Ever wondered if the dal you ate at the local dhaba has Michelin-star potential? Vineet Bhatia, who has won the coveted honour twice, certainly seems to think so. For his new TV show, the London-based chef has travelled to 13 cities across India, transforming their best-known local food into restaurant quality dishes. Accompanying him on the journey is wife Rashima, who picks the dishes for him to modify.
“It’s proper Indian ‘khaana’ (food). I’m just plating it well,” asserts Bhatia, adding, “When we serve food at home, there are four to five dishes. But we never put them in nice plates and try to make them look beautiful. It must appeal to your eyes without compromising on the authenticity and flavours of India.”
Bhatia’s journey on the show, Twist Of Taste With Vineet Bhatia on Fox History and Traveller, will feature bustling cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore and even the less likely, Mcleodganj and Manali in Himachal Pradesh. Ask him if there are areas left to explore, and he says, “The list is endless. I’d like to go to Agra, Meerut, Kashmir, Ahmedabad, Bhopal and even inner Maharashtra. We’re waiting for feedback, and if all goes well, we’d love to do a sequel.”
Citing an example of what to expect on the show, the chef recalls his visit to Amritsar. “We visited a restaurant called Kesar Da Dhaba, which has been around for 90-odd years. Their dal was phenomenal. All I did was, serve it in the form of a puree with jeera aloo and tandoori lamb chops — a classic combination.”
At his own restaurants too — be it in London, Geneva, Dubai or even Moscow — Bhatia keeps up with the latest trends in Indian food. “Everyone wants to lead a healthier lifestyle, so we try and simplify the food in terms of the way it is cooked, making it look beautiful and clean,” he explains, adding, “The taste is already great; where we lack is the way we present our food. Over the past eight to 10 years, Indian clothing, attitudes and finance have changed dramatically, so why not food too?”
Jalebi jhenga; Malai kulfi; Warm kesari rabdi
Serves: Four people
2 Motichoor ladoos
64 pieces of 2 inch sticks of straight jalebis
4 malai kulfis
200 gm saffron rabdi
80 gm soan papdi
Break the ladoo down, put it in center of the plate, stack the jalebis sticks around it like a cage.
Put a Kulfi inside the cage, crush the soan papdi and put it over the kulfi.
Finally pour hot saffron rabdi around it
Watch Twist Of Taste With Vineet Bhatia from August 14 at 9 pm, every Sunday.