CHENNAI: There are 18 types of spices (see box) that you should roast and powder. The next time you make chicken curry, Chettinadu style, use the powder. And use black pepper for spice, not green chillies. I’ve been observing, cooking and experimenting with Chettinad cuisine since I was a child. I remember instructing my mom to add different ingredients or noting down a recipe for her from different cookery TV shows. I love the spicy tanginess!
I’ve been cooking since 2005 after I got into catering despite my parents’ wish to see me in the textile industry like the rest of my family. But food has always been my passion! So, it has been 12 years working in the kitchen, exploring different flavours and ingredients.
I began my career in 2005 with The Residency Group of Hotels, Coimbatore. The same year I moved to Bengaluru and worked with The Richmond Hotel till 2011. I also worked with The Residency Group of Hotels, Karur, before I joined Courtyard by Marriott.
But why Chettinad you ask? Though I am a South Indian boy who grew up in a home with traditional South Indian kitchen, I wanted some chatpatta flavours in my life. I was smitten by Chettinad masalas, meat and curries.
Through experimentation, I can tell you that a dry chicken fry needs onion and tomato masala paste. You should try it. And for the vegetarian dishes, no garam masala, only go for the garlic, onion, red chilli and tomato paste. But I’m more of a non-vegetarian lover (grins).
My favourite dish is fish curry and another reason I prefer non-vegetarian dishes is that they have more scope and space for experimentation. I can make many varieties of fish, crab, chicken, duck and turkey too...no beef and pork though. And coming back to fish curry, don’t stick to coconut paste, try the onion, tomato, garlic paste with coriander and chilli powder. It will be a new experience altogether.