Chef Daniel Viejo Prado explores the Spice Route to create culinary magic in Kochi
Gastronauts yearning for variety can now sample Spanish fare with an Indian twist at The Drawing Room. The inclusion of tapas (small eats) and raciones (sharing portions) within this Fort Kochi eatery was orchestrated by Barcelona-based Daniel Viejo Prado. We catch up with Daniel aka @meltingpotchef during the tail end of his South Indian sojourn. “I was heading to Manilla to visit my buddy chef ‘Chele’ González—whose space Gallery Vask just got ranked amongst the world’s top 50 restaurants. But upon the insistence of my friend and The Drawing Room’s co-owner Abraham Thomas, I decided to stay in Kerala for some time. This eventually lead to upgrading their permanent menu,” explains Daniel.
A tasting journey
While the chef explains how he draws inspiration from people, nature, memories, textures, culinary techniques and the history of Kerala, I drain my refreshing glass of cold-pressed citrico juice. Soup
arrives in the form of gazpacho desandia. The tomato puree-based cold soup infused with watermelon chunks is refreshing and flavourful. I’m fairly surprised when the next dish I’m served from their new menu is a pincho de tortilla (Spanish omelette). Stuffed with salted potatoes and sautéed onions, even Michelin star chefs consider the simple omelette one of the hardest recipes to get right. Aided by over 26 years of industry expertise—with stints at top restaurants across Spain like Bistró Guggenheim, Ocaña, Lando, Jena and Hoyo 19—Daniel creates a near-perfect fluffy omelette.
Worth the wait
Regulars at this beachside boho-chic restaurant, popular for their live music showcases and lip-smacking seafood (caught mere metres away), needn’t worry. You’ll
still find their signature pal-kappa meen curry on the menu alongside paella (large rice dish) and pulpo a la gellega (Galician-style octopus). Two dishes I would definitely recommend are the potatoes in seafood broth with succulent prawns and carrilleras estofadas con arroz (a remarkably tender beef served with a piquant garlic rice). Compared to the rest of the lavish spread, dessert in the form of a Philadelphia mousse cheesecake is a disappointment. So what was the hardest part about cooking for Indians with the Spice Route’s ingredients? “I had to unlearn everything I knew and restructure every one of my recipes. But if I had to, I would do it all again in a heartbeat,” shares the Spaniard.
Meal for two: `1,500 onwards.