HYDERABAD: Executive Chef at Hotel Aditya Park, Sarovar Portico Hotel, Chef Venugopal, who has more than 12 years of experience under his belt, tells us about his favourite Telangana dishes and how he longs to bring his mother’s touch to his dishes
What does authentic Telangana food mean to you?
Just like other cuisines I love this newly discovered cuisine. It’s a staple cuisine for me. Andhra cuisine has already made its place in the list of world renowned cuisines and now it is Telangana’s turn. People who love to explore new cuisines will definitely love and cherish authentic food of Telangana. The uniqueness of this cuisine is that, one should understand the dish and its culture to enjoy it.
On evolution of Andhra cooking
Unlike the past, Andhra cuisine has now gone viral throughout the world. We get Andhra curries and food all over US, Europe, China and Australia as well.
First time in the kitchen
It was in Taj Coramandal, Chennai in 2002. On the first day, my duty chef asked me to rest since I came from Hyderabad to Chennai and asked me to report in the kitchen at 5 am the next day. I reported, as I was told and finished at 11pm. This continued for a few weeks. Later, my chef changed my timings as per the standard shifts. Since then, there has been no looking back.
Your kitchen at home
I maintain a mini hotel kitchen in my home as well. I ensure almost all the ingredients are available in my home kitchen. That’s the reason why my friends and relatives love to visit my place (laughs).
On place you would go back to?
Unfortunately chefs keep evaluating dishes from a technical point of view rather enjoying it. Same goes with me. I hardly cherish food at restaurants.
Best part of being a chef
I serve good, healthy food to hundreds of people every day. I help them with their meal. They all appreciate my food and bless me. What else do I need. I am the happiest person on duty. That encourages me in bringing out the best.
One dish you would never want to try again
However, professional or experienced chef I may be, I always fail to bring my mother’s taste to the food preparations. That taste!!! I cannot get. It’s still a myth for me.
Favourite dishes and what makes them irresistible?
My mother’s Thalakayakura is my all time mouth watering favourite. A typical Telangana dish, and is accepted by a very few. This dish is made with the blend of lamb stock and local spices – a great preparation. It also works as a cure for cold. When she prepares it for me, I never share it with anyone.
Next big food trend
Street food, retail food chains and door deliveries are going to boom further. People today have no time to prepare meals. They somehow manage their meal with whatever is available nearby.
Most underused ingredient
Gehuwala. It is used in haleem and Indian gravy. It is available in Old City.