Hottest chef in Asia, Gaggan Anand deconstruct the baingan

The chef to top 2015’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards in Singapore on turning baigan ka bharta into smoked salsa wraps

Gaggan Anand, the chef behind progressive Indian restaurant Gaggan in Bangkok, is in a chatty mood when we meet him at San-Qi at the Four Seasons, where he is collaborating with a team led by Anshuman Bali, to create a special pop-up breakfast, served to select guests over three days.
At one station, idli batter is being churned before it is baked and topped with sambhar foam and chutney. At another, boiled aloo stuffed with green chutney mousse is tossed into a charcoal batter to make ebony hued vadas. “The inspiration for this,” says Anand, “was the vada pav sold outside Mithibai College.”

Gaggan Anand
Gaggan Anand at San-Qi, Four Seasons Hotel, Worli. Pic/Atul Kamble

On this trip to the city, the 37-year-old has made trips to the stalls at Juhu Chowpatty, Tardeo’s Swati Snacks and Britannia & Co. at Fort as “research”. All information and observations collected will be put to use at the restaurant in Bangkok. Or even Mumbai.

Unlike what was speculated, Anand is set to open an eatery here instead of in Delhi, and chefs have been in training for over a year for it. “The kitchen will be as big as the restaurant itself, and headed by Chef Garima Arora, whose earlier stint includes Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark,” says Anand, who is hopeful that he can host chef communals at his Mumbai outpost. “It has taken me five years to launch in India, but it is now or never.”

Anand shares easy tips to deconstructing baigan ka bharta and uplifting a simple roast chicken.

Do try this at home
“There’s one simple trick to cooking a great dish. Be happy.” While describing how to deconstruct baigan ka bharta and uplifting a simple roast chicken, he says the first step to building a progressive dish is to break the traditional recipe down into parts. “Keep three elements in mind — the ingredients, the base dish and the process. Who can stop your imagination?”

Baigan ka bharta

>> The ingredients include aubergine, tomatoes, chopped ginger, onions, green chillies and coriander, coriander seeds powder, green chillies, butter or ghee, lemon juice.
>> Chop the base (aubergine in this case), and deep fry or grill to get soft, rollable slices.
>> Make a salsa of the rest of the ingredients and use as filling to make wraps.
>> Smoke the wraps, and serve hot.
>> Another option is to toss a pasta in the bharta, instead of making an aubergine sauce.
>> Sprinkle basil leaves. Thai grilled/ roast chicken
>> Remember, when you grill chicken, use a small chicken with skin; it retains the juices.
>> Ditch adding yogurt or rich milk products, and try oil-based rubs instead.
>> Take some light soya sauce, and add chopped garlic, palm sugar or jaggery and vinegar to it.
>> Stuff the chicken with crushed chillies, lemon grass, galangal or kaffir lime to give it a Thai flavour.
>> Rub the oils generously over the outside and roast in an oven.

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