A novel perspective on Indian flavours

The various communities that have travelled to and settled in India have had a strong influence on the country’s fare.

The various communities that have travelled to and settled in India have had a strong influence on the country’s fare. This culinary impact is why India is known as a melting pot of cuisines. Ask any Indian to name their favourite dish, and the comprehensive list shows the diversity of our cuisine.Be it the lip-smacking biryani, the piping hot samosa, or the tasty Delhi chaat, each of us has a favourite Indian dish that we always pick. We asked a few ex-pat chefs from Delhi-NCR to name their favourite Indian dish and recount their memories attached to it.

Joel Scholtens Lindsay
Joel Scholtens Lindsay

For the love of street food
Raul Andea Borja is a Japanese chef from the Philippines who works with The Claridges, New Delhi. Borja shares how he has always been passionate about India’s cuisine and culture. For street food lovers, he recommends pani puri from Kolkata, which is traditionally known as puchka. “I had my first puchka when I was working at The Oberoi Kolkata, I remember having Puchka for a week straight after tasting it for the first time,” says the chef. Nowadays, the chef’s morning routine begins with a cup of cutting chai. He shares, “After my morning walk at Lodhi Gardens, I love to go to the Khan Market tea stall and have a cutting chai. It is also the time I connect with my family in Manila, Philippines.” Another classic Indian favourite of the chef is poori sabzi. “It is such a comfort food for me. This is one dish I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of!,” he adds.

Taste of simple home-cooked meals
It cannot get better than a simple meal of yellow dal and rice or a South Indian coconut-based curry for liquid chef and mixologist, Joel Scholtens Lindsay from The Blue Bar at Taj Palace, New Delhi. “I truly admire the humble, simple Indian homestyle cooking—the kind prepared by mothers and grandmothers,” he shares. A lover of wholesome meals, Lindsay adds that while travelling across the country, he loves to have different kinds of thalis. “It is always my first pick. The best I have had was a vegetarian Manipuri Thali during my travels to the Northeast.” Similar to Borja, Lindsay is also an ardent fan of the masala chai so much so that he has created Joel’s Gin Chai for the menu at The Blue Bar.

Indulging in Scrumptious delights
It was in 2012 when China-based Chef Zhang Hongsheng first visited India. “That day, a friend had taken me to an Indian restaurant for a meal—I tried the Chicken Tikka and Mutton Rogan Josh,” shares Hongsheng, who currently works at Hyatt Regency Delhi. Since then, these two dishes have been the chef’s favourites. “The Mutton Rogan Josh has a unique taste. It is juicy and full of flavour. It can be eaten easily with rice and butter naan,” he adds.

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