Experts at the stove

Experts at the stove

Experts at the stove

There was a time when complicated dishes and exotic desserts were considered best left to the experts, but no more. These days, it seems that nearly every other kitchen in the City is churning out creme brulee, baking cheesecakes and cooking up batches of risotto.

Once-luxury products like truffle, arborio and blue cheese have now become staples on supermarket shelves and Bangaloreans aren’t shying away from experimenting with their strong flavours. Gourmet cooking, it seems, has entered the household kitchen — if not on a daily basis, then at least more frequently than before. Metrolife speaks to a few Bangaloreans to find out more about this trend.

One of this group of enthusiastic amateurs is Mythri, a law student. Mythri began to fix simple snacks when she was in high school and gradually, moved on to more advanced dishes. “I began with milkshakes and ice-cream sundaes and a few years later, started with more difficult stuff, like curries and Chinese food,” she recollects. Her repertoire is fairly impressive. “I’ve experimented with Chinese dishes like schezwuan noodles, hot and sour soup and vegetable balls in garlic sauce. I can make pretty good pasta too,” she says.

Mythri believes that food-based reality shows like ‘MasterChef’ and ‘My Kitchen Rules’ have injected a certain glamour into the cooking industry. “They inspire people to try their hand at cooking too. When I see the way the contestants cook on these shows, the colours on the plate and the presentation of the dish, I realise that I can do this too,” she explains, adding, “I think movies like ‘Julie and Julia’ also serve the same purpose. At the end of the day, coming back home and cooking gives one a lot of happiness.”

Vijaya Baskaran, the executive chef at Le Meridien, points out that the easy availability of gourmet products seems to have pushed people into cooking with them. “People see these products at gourmet stores and pick it up for novelty value. After all, it’s much cheaper to cook with these products at home — eating out at a good restaurant could cost about four times more. But at the end of the day, it’s hard to match the experience of a restaurant at home — one can buy caviar, but they can’t get the accompaniments and fanfare that come with it at a restaurant,” he says.

There’s another angle to this trend — it makes for good business. Vibhuti Bane, a chef, explains, “There’s a clientele for this kind of highly-developed menu — especially for small or medium-sized parties. A lot of five-star hotels and high-end restaurants don’t cater to small gatherings. So there’s actually a niche in the market for amateurs who cook passionately.”

However, he believes that amateur cooking is characterised by an unwillingness to experiment. “If someone tastes paella or cheesecake at a particular restaurant, he would replicate it exactly, rather than innovate with different flavours. For example, most people still make pizza with a base that’s as thick as two slices of bread — rather than the thin-crust variety, which is how it should actually be,” he says.