Delhi-based Chef Vikramjit Roy wins hearts with an exotic Poila Baisakh popup at The Salt House
The busy chef-cum-entrepreneur also tells us about his future expansion plans
Chef Vikramjit Roy, who helms The Tangra Project in Delhi's DLF Avenue Mall in Saket, is known for his incredibly eccentric takes on local delicacies. On a whirlwind trip to Kolkata ahead of the Bengali New Year, the chef invited us to the fine diner The Salt House for a tasting session of his dramatic Poila Baisakh pop up menu, called the Tangra Project Origins x The Salt House, that had everything familiar in a fantastic format.
The things we simply loved from this never-ending gastronomic trail included a delectable cheese platter, the very exotic Parwal Guacamole Chips and Chaat, the melt-in-your-mouth Chhenna Paturi, Mutton Pantheras, the very delicious Edamame Chholar Daal and Doi Stuffed Squid Maach among others. Since the menu was an ode to the City of Joy, where he grew up, it couldn't be complete without some very engaging desserts including The Rose, Paan and Dodhikorma Cheesecake.
We had a chat with the chef, who also is behind such culinary brands including Hello Panda, Park Street Rolls and Biryani, Ginger Garlic, Woke Pizza and Sumdimsum, on the sidelines of the pop-up session. Excerpts.
Tell us what was the idea behind this unique pop up?
Our restaurant, The Tangra Project, essentially celebrates the inclusivity that Kolkata upholds. It's about all the influences that Kolkata has had over decades and how it has adapted all of these influences to something which is its own. When we finalised our venue to showcase our restaurant in Calcutta, it was like coming back to where it originated from. We worked hard to identify what we wished to showcase that could exemplify our celebration and also bring something absolutely new to the city gastronomes.
Tell us about a few techniques you employed to come up with this fabulous fare?
Fermentation was at the core of the entire concept. Knowing we were coming to Kolkata during summer, we devised various modes of fermentation to build our dishes in so that they could have a cooling effect and help one adjust to the weather. Apart from this, sous-vide, dehydration and cryo-frying are some of the other techniques which dominated the food we served.
How do you see things shaping up in F&B with things opening up once again?
It looks very positive all around. I think one of the major learnings has been to build a sustainable and cost-effective business model. A model that could survive the test of the unforeseen. Having said so, the industry has come back with sheer resilience. I foresee better than before business in the next 3-4 months with international travel opening up and tourism getting back in full flow.
Tell us about your expansion plans in Singapore?
Similar to our intent in Delhi and now in Kolkata, we wish to offer Singapore a unique dining experience through our restaurants. We have finalised a couple of concepts starting with an uber-cool tasting menu, celebrating food from here cooked with Japanese techniques and presented with a similar sensibility.
Being a Bengali, what are your comfort Bengali meals and dishes?
Anything and everything that my mum cooks are the epitome of comfort for me. All the dishes that I grew up eating - whether it was haleem opposite Chaplin cinema, or the rolls in Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road, biryani at Aminia, Nahoum's, food cooked by parents of my Christian and Marwari friends - all of these are comfort food to me.
You have not opened any diner in Kolkata yet. Any plans?
We would love to. As of now, we are looking at establishing our current business of Cloud kitchens in Gurgaon and Delhi and our restaurant in Saket well enough apart from expanding into Singapore. But we have our eyes open on Kolkata, and would love to come back home with something unique that would positively disrupt the food and beverage industry here.