From the shores of Mediterranean

Chef speak

From the shores of Mediterranean

“I was raised by grandparents who were steeped in culinary tradition. They instilled in me a deep respect for ingredients and techniques, laying the groundwork for my future endeavours,” he explains.A History major from St Stephen’s College, Delhi, Manu enrolled in the famous American Culinary Institute, New York, graduating with several awards to his credit.

 “I worked in some of the most exciting restaurant kitchens in NYC and interacted with many of the top chefs there before relocating to India in 2004,” he says while expanding on his favourite cuisine from the Mediterranean.

“The food of the Mediterranean is a mix of regional and cultural influences. Much like India. The very name Mediterranean evokes images of rolling Tuscan hills,
pastoral fishing villages and sunny Greek islands. It is also one of the freshest and healthiest cuisines around, a robust combination of flavour and ingredients that lends itself to exciting experimentation.”

What are his favourites? “A simple grilled fish with lemon and olive oil does wonders for me, especially if the fish is ocean fresh! I also do a lamb shoulder similar to the style of an Italian Osso Bucco (veal shanks cooked in broth and white wine)  that always gets the wow factor.Beyond its core of olive oil, bread and wine, Med food covers a number of herbs, spices, vegetables, fruits and nuts that define each unique regional flavour print.”

What does he recommend for the Indian palate? “It’s the diversity of Med food that appeals to Indian taste buds. We all love a Garlicky Humus, a fresh Greek Salad with Salty Olives, a simple Caprese Italian Salad (combination of tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil) or a more complex Moroccan Chicken Tagine (a slow-cooked chicken stew). Like Indian food, there is something for everyone although the focus is more on freshness, keeping the ingredients flavourful but not over-seasoned.”

So how do the uninitiated get familiar with Med cuisine? “The simplest dishes are available everywhere or easy to experiment with at home. Mezze (appetisers served with drinks), fresh crunchy Greek salads, a variety of pastas and risottos, Ratatouille (a delicious French veg stew) and Caponata (a cooked veg salad made with eggplant and
celery) are delicious and easy to put together.

The flavours of the Mediterranean are at once diverse and embracing — you cannot help but get hooked,” he signs off.

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