Creamy punch

I grew up surrounded by women and a few men who were magicians in the kitchen. From simple snacks to more elaborate meals, they did it all with such flamboyance and passion that it stirred us as kids and brought smiles to our faces. I grew up in a beautiful little township of the Tata’s in Jamshedpur. Summer vacations were, however, spent in the ancestral home in Kolkata, an ancient gargantuan palace of a house, where the entire clan congregated from various corners of the globe.

The kitchens were massive and were manned by this fleet of cooks who we called ‘thakurs’. They had their own hierarchy and a very definite code of conduct. Every meal was an event in itself and one could hear the grinding stones churning out various blends of masalas through the day. We kids, almost a dozen and almost in the same age group, hung around the kitchen and raided it every now and then to steal anything from hot kochuris to just fried begunis to simmering ‘rosogollas’. The ‘thakurs’ swatted us away; but in hindsight I feel they quite basked in the celebrity status that we kids endowed on them.

 I believe it was in these formative years, immersed in heady aromas emanating from an age old kitchen that I realised that only a few other professions had it in them to provide such instant gratification and pleasure as one related to food did.

The choice, at a later stage in life was to choose between a career in the Army or out of it. So the world of food turned out to be my true calling.

I am an alumnus of the Institute of Hotel Management, Mumbai,  and joined the Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai, as a chef trainee in 1994. It was at the Zodiac Grill, then considered the premium European food restaurant in the country, where I learnt the basic principles of cooking.

In 1996 I joined Cunard Cruise Lines in Miami. A long and spectacular spell on board the iconic luxury liners, the Queen Elizabeth 2 and the Royal Viking Sun gave me “an exposure to the world of high end gastronomy that no amount of riches could buy.”

In 2002, I took on the mantle of chef de cuisine and later that of executive chef with deGustibus, the company that had given shape to the iconic Indigo and rewritten the rules of fine gastronomy in Mumbai. Over the last many years with the company, I have set up the crazily popular and much celebrated Indigo Delicatessens.

A man of not many words but varied interests, I am a keen motor biker, a photographer, and a reasonably skilled self-taught musician. The recipe I am sharing with you is, ‘Farfalle with Three Mushrooms, Caramelised Onions and aged Parmesan’ —one of my favourites.

Executive Chef Jaydeep Mukherjee, Indigo
(As told to Shilpa Raina)

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