Chef Garima Arora tells us how she's revolutionising regional breakfast staples at her new restaurant in Bangkok
It was back in 2018 when Garima Arora broke the glass ceiling by becoming the first Indian woman to receive a Michelin star for her restaurant, Gaa, in Bangkok. The news made headlines in India. The Le-Cordon-Bleu trained chef of Punjabi heritage has been mentored by some of the biggest names in the culinary world - Rene Redzipi of Noma and Gaggan Anand of Gaggan in Bangkok, to name some. After the opening of her own restaurant, she went on to win the title of Asia's Best Female Chef in 2019. Today, she adds another feather to her cap with her newest venture in Bangkok – an all-day eatery and bar called Here.
''I see it as an opportunity to showcase the versatility of Indian cooking as well as the real flavours of our cuisine, especially in home cooking'', says Arora.
Read on to find out what drove Arora to launch Here, her love for Indian breakfasts and more. Edited excerpts from an interview:
Tell us a little about Here
Here is a casual all-day eatery and bar. On our breakfast menu, we serve homely and nutritious dishes like, oats chilla, black rice dosa and gobi paratha, while our lunch and dinner menus focus on dishes that are robust in flavours and pack a punch.
What is it about Indian breakfast that's so special to you?
Indians are big breakfast eaters, and our breakfast repertoire alone comprises more offerings than any other cuisine in the world, so it is the perfect way to show our guests what Indian food is all about.
Can you list a few breakfast dishes you've given a makeover to?
What we try to do at Here, is introduce Indian cuisine to an audience in a way that is easy to understand while staying true to our culinary heritage. Our black rice dosa served with homemade butter, gunpowder and coconut jaggery chutney is the dish where we put our own spin to classics. Instead of using white rice, we use Thai black rice which gives our dosa a nutty flavour profile. Then, we have the Magno & Ma Kwaen Pepper Shrikand served with Besan Puri, which is completely unique because of the flavour combinations of mango and ma kwaen pepper from the north of Thailand and tastes very similar to Sichuan pepper. Another one of my favourites from the menu is our take on the naan. We put our own spin to freshly made naan with toppings like candied ginger, sour cream and lime.
Oats chilla, fresh salad and peanut chutney
Black rice dosa with homemade cheese and gun powder
Gobi paratha with homemade cheese and pickles
Besan puri with mango ma kwaen pepper shrikhand
Naan with candied ginger, lime and sour cream
Are any of the dishes inspired from old family recipes?
Many dishes on the menu feature dishes from my family recipes. Our Gobi Paratha is passed down from my grandmother. It always comes with our homemade butter which I learned how to make from her and people just can't seem to get enough of it. It's one of the things we are known for. We also have our Oats Chilla served with fresh salad and peanut chutney, a recipe which belongs to my father, who enjoys eating healthy.
We've all grown up hearing our mothers and grandmothers nag us about not leaving the house without eating that first bite. And it makes sense given the fact that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Add to that the mere range, colour, variety of breakfast options available in Indian cuisine, and desi brekkies become worthy of champions. In other words, we not only get Arora's obsession with breakfast, but are also kind of part of that team.
Equipped with a Master’s degree in Journalism, Tarini is forever questioning everything around her. Headstrong and passionate about the art of storytelling, she is up to date with all things travel, food, beauty, and innovation. When she isn’t out reviewing the newest restaurant, you can find her researching the latest skincare trend or curled up with a book and a cuppa in the farthest corner of the room.