City Express caught up with Nathan Sivagami, executive chef, The Residency Towers, T Nagar whose passion lies in all things cheesy, beefy Italiano!
CHENNAI: How would you like a Rasamalai fused with Italian sauces and dressing? The foodies back in Saudi Arabia loved it.
After my apprenticeship in 1989, I moved to the UAE and my first job landed me in an Italian kitchen, where I spent 3 years under the guidance of another chef who gave me a recipe book full of authentic dishes.
It was a traditional gesture. So, that’s my speciality. I also learnt South American cuisine. But let’s talk about Italian cuisine first.
Italy is divided into the North and the South. I cook the North Italian dishes that are more authentic in their flavours. Signature dishes, apart from the pizzas and pastas, would include rice with porcini mushroom and pana cotta, all simple in flavours.
Now, ingredients are the main components on a plate and for our Italian dishes, you’ll find rice, meat, tomatoes and herbs. You know how we pluck Karuveppilai (curry leaves) every day in our kitchen? It’s the same there.
Freshly plucked rosemary, thyme and basil. Of course, I haven’t forgotten the cheese. We play with cheese for almost all dishes. Parmesan cheese makes every pasta dish complete!
My favourite is the soft, buffalo mozzarella cheese, it’s mouth watering! For starters, goat cheese is good and Gouda for ravioli. What is Italian cuisine without cheese? (smiles)
Before I get to South American dishes, here’s how I got into the field of food, flavours and aroma. My mother is a teacher and she would use her skills while the other family members helped her in the kitchen. She inspired me by her sambhar skills too! (laughs)
One element that is almost synonymous with South American cuisine is beef. Sometimes chicken, prawns but not much of fish. Beef is loved by the people there and we chefs play with its flavours.
Argentine Chimichurri sauce is one of the main sauces that is used for marination. If you ask me what dish would South Indians prefer? I’d say try Chicken with Chimichurri sauce or raw sea food cooked in vinegar dressing.
In the end, desserts — which is everyone’s favourite! I would strongly recommend tiramisu.