In their crisp whites with well-chiselled tools securely tucked into various pockets, they walk nimbly around their kitchen kingdom with a smile that conceals the work pressures of the last three months.
Businesses have suffered across the board, with the restaurant industry being at the apex. But keeping that aside, they march forward to win back customers with culinary exuberance.
The need of the hour is to think out of the box, they say. Using the lockdown period to their advantage, these top chefs have come up with brand new recipes that they call the ‘lockdown gems.’
Chef Praveen Shetty, Executive Chef, Conrad, Bengaluru
Chef Praveen experimented with an appetiser that is not fancy but lives up to please the palate. He calls it the Ragi Wrap with Vegetables Salsa.
“This lockdown gem was an accidental creation. I had some leftover vegetables so I thought of making a gluten-free ragi dosa and converting it into a wrap stuffed with mixed vegetables, topped with salsa mint and coriander dip. Now it has been added to our restaurant and wedding menu,” says Shetty.
Anahita N Dhondy, Chef-Partner, SodaBottleOpenerWala, Cyber Hub, Gurugram
A little bit of millet in your life can keep you strong and healthy, was the starting point of Anahita N Dhondy’s Ragi and Whole Wheat Tacos.
“Being home, it was important to think of something tasty yet wholesome. I thought of making tacos of millets instead of corn. With Ragi and whole-wheat tacos, charred corn salsa, mushrooms, sour cream, fresh salad leaves and avocados, I got the beautiful amalgamation of sweet, spicy and fresh Flavours,” says Dhondy.
Chef Dhruv Oberoi, Head Chef, Olive Qutub, The Grammar Room, and Serai, New Delhi
Inspired by his favourite destination, Bali, Chef Dhruv Oberoi created Bali on my Mind. “When I follow my heart through the dreamy roads, I wake up in Bali,” he says, adding, “I was so fascinated by the way the Balinese lived that I wanted to give it a tangible form.
It’s reminiscent of my holiday stories from the streets and shores of Bali that I missed during this lockdown,” says Oberoi.
It’s a tapioca pudding cooked in fresh turmeric, infused with coconut, and milk, garnished with mango, riped jackfruit and granola crunch made out of horse gram, tender almonds and coconut sugar.
Chef Nimish Bhatia, Culinary Mentor & Food Consultant, Bengaluru
One would commonly associate healthy food with being boring. But this is not true of what Nimish Bhatia has come up with.
A delectable combination of shaved cucumbers, radish ribbons, brown garlic, fresh juicy beetroot slivers, strained yoghurt in the form of Labneh, citrus dressing made of freshly squeezed lemons, extra virgin olive oil and Himalayan salt, came together as what he calls, A Dollop of Jouissance.
He finishes it off with melons, walnuts, mint leaves and coriander. It gets a thumbs-up for being an immunity booster, besides offering richness in vitamins and minerals.
“The lockdown period made me realise that there was nothing more important than health at this time. With limited ingredients available during that period, I conceptualised this,” says Bhatia.
Chef Anurudh Khanna, Executive Chef, The Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi, The Westin Sohna Resort and Spa, Sohna
With a clear focus on using local produce, Chef Khanna created Amaranth Bathua Duet with Turmeric Foam. These are patties made of spinach, bathua and amaranth with millets, garnished with cress, topped with vibrant yellow turmeric foam.
“My food is always inspired by local produce. I also try and bring lesser-used ingredients, such as amaranth in this case.
The dishes pack in fibre, along with being rich in proteins and vitamins.
The presence of turmeric further amps up the health quotient by inducing the goodness of curcumin in every bite,” he shares.