Chef Talk: Why Sofitel's Indrajit Saha likes to keep it traditionally modern
He is the man behind running a kitchen at one of Mumbai’s most plush five-star hotels. With a passion for food on his 'apron', Chef Indrajit Saha believes that innovation and quality are two ingredients that have the power to change the game in the world of food. His single most endeavour is to take his guests on a gastronomical high with international as well as regional Indian recipes.
Chef Indrajit Saha of Sofitel Mumbai BKC talks to India Food Network about innovating Indian dishes for the international audience and what food lovers can expect in 2015.
Gaggan’s modern approach to traditional Indian food is the winning formula
Indian food is now exposed to a new conceptual approach, that of molecular gastronomy, which was initially considered to be part of only Western cuisines. When it comes to Gaggan Anand (chef of Asia's No. 1 restaurant, Gaggan), his approach has been to keep the identity of Indian cuisine and the inspiration drawn from traditional recipes, intact. I believe that is the reason behind Indian food receiving an overwhelming response worldwide.
When innovating heirloom recipes for a global audience…
The challenge is to keep the oil and butter as minimum as possible when innovating for international food lovers.
Quality and innovation play a crucial role in perfecting regional cuisine
At luxury five-star hotels, our endeavour is to work on concepts that are popular as well as universally appreciated. So, regional cuisines work well as long as the approach remains innovative and the quality of food is at its best. At Sofitel Mumbai BKC however, we frequently explore both regional and international cuisines to take our guests on diverse gastronomical journeys. We have food festivals including Mewari, Gujarati, Malwani as well as international cuisines like French, Thai, Vietnamese, German and more.
A typical day at work is like…
Each day at the Sofitel Mumbai BKC has something to look forward to. Apart from interacting with guests, I also oversee the functions of the department. A round-up of the outlets, banquets and happenings of the day are part of my daily routine before it opens to the guests. I also ensure that preparations, with set-ups, mise en place and menus are in order before the service hour begins. A meeting is held daily with the staff, and then with my team including sous chefs and specialty chefs from each outlet, to brainstorm ideas. All in all, an average day in F&B is never the same and that’s the very reason why we are so self-motivated.
Fondest food memory…
Shorshe Maach, a pan-fried fish delicacy with Bengal mustard (Kasundi), steamed and wrapped in banana leaves.
Honoured to have worked with…
Ashley Coleman, Joy Bhattacharya and Massimo Bottura as all three of them were way ahead of their time!
What to expect in 2015…
With plans to keep Mumbai open 24 hours, the focus will be on cocktails and beverages. Smaller portions of dishes will rule. The limelight will be on unexplored regional cuisines, for instance, Assamese and Bihari. Traditional recipes will be given a contemporary twist. Sommeliers will help to create the best wine and food pairings. Use of alternate proteins, soul food with an organic base and micro-green dishes will find a presence on the table.
At Artisan, Sofitel Mumbai BKC, patrons will be introduced to gourmet wraps and stylised cuisine this year.
Love to eat at…
Frangipani, Yauatcha, Mahesh Lunch Home in Mumbai. Not only because their cuisine is authentic, but also the quality of their food is impeccable!
When not cooking or thinking about food…
It is important to maintain a healthy balance between one’s passion and family. When I am not at work, I look forward to spending time with my daughter.
Recipe of Braised Lamb Shanks with Cabbage Roulade
Chef's note: This recipe was inspired from a menu creation called ‘Back to Basics’. The dish is a combination of an authentic delicacy served in a modern way. It reflects home-style Mamma’s cooking with a contemporary twist. The lamb is complemented with vegetables and served with cabbage and mushroom.
BRAISED LAMB SHANK
1200 gm lamb shank
1000 gm water
40 gm salt
50 gm flour
1 piece shallot
3 piece garlic
200 gm brown sugar
300 gm dark beer
500 gm Jus de veau
5 gm clove
5 gm Juniper bean
3 gm rosemary
1. Mix the water and salt put the cleaned shanks in it for 24 hours.
2. Then take out and dry.
3. Season the shank and the dust with white flour.
4. Pan fry them golden brown.
5. Then in the same pan add the shallot and garlic and sautee for 1 minute.
6. Add the brown sugar and caramelise, deglaze with the beer.
7. Add the jus de veau and add the spices and herbs.
CRÉME OF CELERIAC
200 gm celeriac
50 gm cream
50 gm butter
4 gm celery salt
1. Vacuum pack the clean celeriac.
2. Then steam till fully cooked.
3. Then blend with the cream and butter.
4. Season with celery salt.
ROLL OF MUSHROOM & CABBAGE
4 big leaves green cabbage
100gm Portobello diced
100gm Button mushroom diced
100gm Ceps mushrooms diced
100gm Shiitake diced
20gm Parmesan cheese
1. Clean the cabbage and blanch.
2. Then sautee the shallot and garlic.
3. Add the mushrooms and sautee till all the liquid from the mushroom has evaporated.
4. Add the brandy and cook till all liquid has evaporated.
5. Add the cream and boil till 50% of cream has evaporated.
6. Add the cheese and parsley, season with salt and pepper.
7. Leave it to cool.
8. Then make a roll from cabbage and mushroom.