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CHEF'S CORNER

Chef Mahesh Sharma

Thursday, August 17, 2017, 15:45 Hrs  [IST]

Chef Mahesh Sharma is a specialist Indian Chef who has taken inspiration from Indian cuisines and culture, and tried to modernise it through his own research, innovations and creativity. Chef Sharma has managed to combine his knowledge with his love of Indian spices and ingredients to create innovative modern Indian cuisines. He worked in kitchens of leading Indian and international brands both within the country and outside and honed his skills. He was an Executive Chef with Le Meridien Jaipur, Swallow Hotels, UK, Rajputana Sheraton, Hilton Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, etc., before joining Radisson Blu Dwarka Delhi. An ardent painter and author of cook books, Chef Sharma was also the President of Rajasthan Association of Chefs Society (RACS). Hospitality Biz reports.



Q There is a lot of buzz about ‘modernising’ Indian food. What is your understanding about modern Indian food and how it is different from traditional cuisines?
Modern Indian food is based on the twist of spices used in cooking. Today, because of evolved health awareness and consciousness, people prefer less oily food. Therefore, attempt is to make food less oily in modern Indian cooking. Similarly, in modern Indian cooking there is a lot of stress on accompaniments, which are appealing to the eyes. This cannot be seen in traditional style of cooking.

Q When modernisation and innovation is important for traditional cuisines to appeal to larger audience and palate, what precaution you suggest while attempting modernisation?
While attempting modernisation in Indian cuisine, I will suggest that flavours and taste should not be affected, though cooking method may vary. And also accompaniments should be appropriate as per the dishes. The dish should relate the region from where it belongs to because dishes in India are segregated state wise. By keeping these things in mind, one can definitely modernise the Indian traditional cuisine which will reach to a large audience.



Q What kind of innovation and creativity is possible in Indian cuisines? How do you rate Indian cuisines with other international cuisines in terms of opportunities for creativity?
Indian cuisine is based on authentic methods of cooking which should not be changed. To do innovation and creativity in Indian food the only method which is applicable is fusion; and creating fusion should be in such a way that the items used should complement each other very well and the taste should not be much affected. And also plating with authentic cutlery can be used for presentation. As I have also done innovation in Indian food which has given me good results.

Though rating the cuisines on the basis of presentation is very difficult nowadays because the trends are changing and one cannot judge which cuisine is most popular in terms of creativity and innovation. New dishes are coming up in market and mostly fusion which is a rising trend; new dishes are being invented each and every day. And in some cases, on the basis of authenticity Indian cuisine lacks in creativity.

Q What is your take on molecular gastronomy in the Indian context?
Molecular gastronomy is also adopted in Indian cuisine. There are no limitations as such that molecular cannot be used in Indian cuisine. I have used molecular food in Indian style in my hotel, like sweet curd molecular sphere (Misthi Dhoe) and chaat papdi sphere which can be used as a dessert and as an accompaniment. This is a new concept and being liked by the guest. I know for a fact that, molecular gastronomy with Indian touch will gain popularity in the coming years.



Q How do you react to government’s move to control portion sizes in hotels & restaurants?
It is very necessary to have a controlled portion size of food in hotels because it helps in controlling food cost. The food served on plate can be presented very well with creativity which will look more presentable to the guest. It will reduce the food wastage and also the exact portion size is decided on the basis of normal diet of an individual. I think it is good that the government is initiating such things to minimise the wastage.

 
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