Sarah wants to clear misconceptions about Indian cuisine
After enthralling the desi audiences by cooking perfect Indian dishes in Masterchef Australia in 2014, model-turned chef Sarah Todd, took her love for the country a step further by opening her own restaurant in Goa. And the restaurateur says that despite being in India for so long, its cuisines and cultures remain a mystery and are as unexplored as others. This ability that the diverse Indian demography possesses, has something for everyone. “Indian cuisine is different state to state, even village to village. From Assam to Kashmir to Goa, I have taken something from every visit, whether it is a technique or an ingredient, and incorporated it into my cooking,” says Todd, adding, “This country is so diverse, and I look forward to exploring more regional cuisines, unusual ingredients, and ancient techniques.”
Todd says the lockdown for her has been a “time for reflection”. “I know it sounds like a cliché, but I have learnt to appreciate the little things in life. I have learnt to prioritize and to spend more time with friends and family who deserve my undivided attention . . . even if it is virtually,” she quips.
The chef, who plans to open a restaurant in New Delhi, also hopes to set up numerous dineouts across the country and the world. The latter endeavour is also an effort that may clear many misconceptions that the world has about Indian food. “Some misconceptions of Indian cuisine are it is complicated, heavy, or difficult to make. Indian takeaway is hugely popular, but it is not a true representation of what is eaten in the homes of Indians. This is the country that brought us Ayurvedic Cuisine and Yoga. Indian cuisine is flavoursome, healthy, and wholesome,” says Todd.
However, she says that it is upon Indians themselves to open up to new cuisines in order to experience the world as well. Does she feel Indians are a bit apprehensive when it comes to trying something new? “Indians have an advanced palate and enjoy flavoursome food from a very young age. One of my most memorable times in India was visiting a home for girls in Goa. I made frankies for them and they polished them off in no time. Some of the girls then picked up a piece of lime, sprinkled it with masala and began sucking on it. Indians love their food which is why MasterChef Australia is so popular here. They are experimenting more with different cuisines, but it must be packed with flavour,” she responds.
The Australian Chef is also a part of The Perfect Serve as one among the all-female AO Chef series. “It is one of Australia’s most prestigious culinary events,” she says. So, what motivated her to be a part of it? “My cooking style is well-known in India where I have been working for the last five years. However, this would be the first time Australians would have the opportunity to try my style of cooking that evolved during that time in India. It was a resounding success. One diner told me that she had no expectations but said it was one of the best dining experiences she had ever had. The Perfect Serve is a five-part documentary series that follows me, Analiese Gregoy and Bo Songvsava as we undertake the daunting task of serving a five-course menu at the Australian Open. Viewers get an insight into the behind-the-scenes preparations and follow the journey across different countries, cultures, and cuisines.”