Interviews

‘Awadhi Cuisine has no fear of losing its popularity to various new cuisines entering Indian market’

Coutryard by Marriott is
celebrating ‘Awadhi Feast’ for the first time in Delhi, but it is fourth time for
Chef Amit Dash, the master of Nawabi cuisine. The man who can cook hundred
different types of biryani has travelled to almost all major Indian cities and
worked in some of the most famous restaurants known for Indian food. He has
recently joined Marriott’s Delhi property, though his association with the group
goes back to four years. 

In an interview with India
Hospitality Review
, Chef Dash talked elaborately about his love for the
cuisine. He also explained us various interesting details of cooking techniques
involved in this kind of food. The chef also shared with us his experience with
customers in his twelve years of professional life and his tryst with
technology in kitchen. 

Here is an excerpt of the
interview: 

Speciality: North- West
Frontier cuisine, Awadhi, Peshawari, Afghanistani, Dum Pukht style of cooking. 

Is there anything called authentic
Awadhi cuisine left or has it got itself mixed with other cuisines?
 

Yes it did get mixed with
Mughlai cuisine, North-East Frontier and Peshawari cuisine. Now it exists as a
blend of these different cuisines.

Professional Journey: I
started my career with ITC Hotels which is known for its Indian food. I started
with ITC Chennai. I worked there for sometime until I was sent to ITC Maurya in
New Delhi Here I worked in the world renowned restaurant, Bukhara. Then we went
to Mumbai to open Kebabs and Curries Restaurant at Grand Central Hotel of ITC
Group. This hotel, as the name suggests, was dedicated to Kebabs and Curries. Then
I went to Jolly’s Nabobs (Awadhi Restaurant) in ITC Windsor, Bangalore.

The ITC journey stopped
there. I worked with Taj Hotels after that until I joined Marriott. I joined
Marriott, Chennai and worked for two years there. Then I moved to Mumbai and
now I am in Delhi. I have been at Marriott for the last four years. 

Major ingredients specific
to Awadhi cuisine:
Spices- 20-25 spices- dry rose petal, nutmeg, cinnamon,
cardamom etc. It is not very spicy, but has different kinds of flavour in it. All
the spices are pounded separately and added as required by the particular dish
instead of mixing all of them together.

A lamb Nihari, therefore, will
only take Nihari spices and not all the spices mixed together. So the chicken
tastes different than a lamb. 

Popularity of Nawabi cuisine among Indian foodies: It is very popular. People have to travel a lot, especially for business purposes and they get fed up of typical restaurant food and want to come back to dishes which taste like home. This aspect of these foods makes it very popular among eaters even today. The restaurant, Bukhara, for instance, hasn’t changed in the last sixteen years.

Awadhi cuisine has no fear of losing its connoisseurs despite new cuisines entering Indian market. Indian food has its own charm and it also attracts a lot of foreign travellers. 

Innovation in food vis-a-vis
changing food habits: 
Health conscious eaters- Awadhi cuisine is known for its richness since it was the cuisine of royalty. A
lot of restaurants still follow that dictum. But, it is impossible to serve the
same kind of food in this era. So we need to keep in mind that we serve dishes
which are healthy and tasty at the same time, while retaining the goodness of
Awadhi cuisine. For instance, my personal innovation is a dish called Baag-e-bahist
or Garden of all greens which is a dish made out of green vegetables.
 

Technology in Kitchen: There
are dishes, such as some kinds of biryani, which needs an entire day to be
prepared. That requires a lot of patience. The tools and techniques that we use
in the kitchen now helps us to reduce on time taken and makes it more
hassle-free without compromising on the taste. 

A kitchen equipment that
impresses you:
Rational combi oven. It is a Mini Chef in itself. You can use it
for any style of cooking- roasting, baking etc and on top of that you can
programme it for one-thousand different recipes. You can also customize the recipes.
The machine is smarter than man that ways. Others include blast chillers. 

New festivals to watch out
for: 
From the next quarter in
2015, we are planning on festival which has to do with pairing of Indian food with beverages, such as kebab with scotch, beer
and biryani etc. We are planning on having sixteen biryanis in that festival. But the plan is still at a very nascent stage.

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