‘Food — a basic need has now become a status symbol’
Zafran, the contemporary Indian restaurant by Foodmark, located Salmiya is known for its vibrant, modern Indian cuisine and its commitment to providing quality dishes to food fanatics.
The restaurant recently hosted a group of media representatives to an up close and personal exclusive master cookery class held by the restaurants master chefs Chef Gaurav Singh and Chef Mohit Dhingra. Participants were treated to a few items that they themselves helped put together.
Chef Singh was specially flown in for the event to provide insights and incorporate some of his favorite easy-to-prepare ingredients into approachable home-style dishes.
Sajan Alex, Country Operations Manager, Foodmark Kuwait, said: “It is with great pleasure that we conducted this exclusive cooking session for select media representatives to learn the culinary secrets of Indian cooking. Zafran is all about flavour and indulging in Indian spices, the representatives enjoyed a memorable cooking experience as they reproduced the dishes. After this huge success, we will continue to conduct many more master classes.”
The Times went a step further to know more about the masterchef Gaurav Singh and his relationship with the culinary arts.
Describe your entry into the culinary world and your early interests?
My first experience with food and the way it is cooked in a kitchen was obviously with my mother. I was totally awestruck when I’d see the powdery flour getting transformed into a bread.
It was love at first sight with food; I could see magic in front of my eyes.
This is when I decided to pursue my passion which was cooking, as my profession. In the year 2000, I graduated with a degree in hotel management from Dadar Catering College which is more popularly known as Institute of Hotel Management and Catering, Mumbai. I started my career as a kitchen executive trainee with welcome group management institute — ITC Hotels (Starwood hotels) in the year 2001.During this training I got an opportunity to learn various cuisines, cooking methods and I finally chose to specialize in Indian cuisine at the world famous restaurant Bukhara in India.
What were the biggest challenges you have faced?
It isn’t easy to learn and master the finer details of the Indian cuisine. It takes a lot of hard work and patience to learn the skills required. The biggest challenges is to learn and master the skills, understand the food, taste and those other finer details from cooks and chefs who have been in the trade for decades. The absence of a documented book for cuisine makes it all the more difficult.
How would you describe your cooking style?
The menu offering has to be authentic yet light .It means that when someone comes and eats in my restaurant, one relates to the authentic taste, yet does not feel overstuffed with oil and spices. Therefore I always adapt to an authentic yet a modern cooking style which involves around local and fresh produce which is sustainable.
From your point of view, could you describe the ever evolving nature of food?
Food was always the basic need and now it has become a status symbol. The evolving nature of food is very interesting and not easy to predict. With the introduction of molecular gastronomies it takes a different tangent, but I still feel that there would surely be an approach of back to basics.
Where does the inspiration for your contemporary dishes come from?
Apart from cooking, as a chef you also talk to a lot of guests and listen to their view. I am often inspired by the thoughts of colleagues and read magazines on latest food philosophy and modern trends. The inspiration comes collectively from all these sources and one is always excited to execute these ideas
What is your absolute favorite dish to prepare and why?
It’s the biryani. I have always been fascinated with cooking some great biryanis. There is a biryani promotion lined up in Zafran Dubai and UAE in the month of May - June and I am really excited to cook for the occasion
What is the one ingredient you cannot do without and why?
Although this is a very difficult one to answer, it definitely has to be the tomatoes; one cannot do much without them. They make a great soup, sauce, salad and even the authentic Indian curries.