In pursuit of culinary inspiration

Chef Megha Kohli tells us that her travel pursuits usually involve packing her bags, starting her car, and whizzing away, covering a lot of ground—with her favourite travel partner, her dad.
Megha Kohli in Armenia.
Megha Kohli in Armenia.

Chef Megha Kohli tells us that her travel pursuits usually involve packing her bags, starting her car, and whizzing away, covering a lot of ground—with her favourite travel partner, her dad. The executive chef at Cafe Mez and The Wine Company loves to explore regional flavours and has often incorporated what she has picked up on her escapades into her culinary creations. In this interview, the Central Delhi-resident tells us about her travel experiences, her luggage essentials, among other such things. Excerpts…


On the earliest travel memory...
The first memory of travelling somewhere was with my dad and other family members. My dad is very fond of travelling, especially driving. All of us—my mother, dad, brother, and I—would be in the car and we would first decide to go to a destination, and then end up seeing many other places around the same area. Till today, travelling for me, my brother, and my dad is never really about the destination but always about the journey. We like to be on the go. We stay at one destination—say for a day—and take off for another place the next day.


On the types of experiences she seeks while travelling...
I love travelling by car—it means I am in control of my trip. I can stop if I feel something interesting is happening, to speak to the locals, or to just pluck fruits and vegetables if I cross a field. I like talking to people. I love experiences that help me learn something about the world, other people, their lives, and definitely about food—something I can bring back with me.


On the latest travel memory...
Last year in August, I went to Spiti Valley with my father. My dad had to visit for some work, so I decided to tag along. I would call it the best five days of my life. My dad and I have really similar personalities. We were listening to music in the car… It was beautiful. The drive was tough because of the terrain but with every turn, the view would change, it was such an unexplored territory. I have never seen terrain like that before. We drove from Delhi to Shimla, Shimla to Spiti, then to Chandra Taal Lake, and then back to Manali. We did that in four and a half days.
This is one of the trips where I did not pay much attention to the food. I just switched off and enjoyed the time with my dad. I relished momos, Maggi… basically typical mountain food. It was not a food trip at all.
On the last food trip...
I am very passionate about regional Indian flavours and I think every place has something to offer. But the last food trip I had was to Armenia. I went there with a friend and fell in love with the food. It was a mix of varied flavours and influences. Every meal was like a revelation—the cheese, the fresh produce, the way they cook their meals. I ended up incorporating a lot of what I had produced in my menu at Lavaash By Saby and now at Cafe Mez.


On her travel essentials...
A good pair of shoes, comfortable track pants, a jacket, my earphones, and a portable charger so that I do not stop taking pictures if my phone battery dies. Also, a notebook and a pen because I am constantly taking notes—if I like a dish, I write down the flavours.


On her next trip...
I look forward to another road trip with my father to Ladakh soon.

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