Michelin-star chef Vineet Bhatia is back to offer afive-course jugalbandi meal, blending Italian, Indian and Japanese
Michelin-star chef Vineet Bhatia is sprightly when we make a call to his Chelsea home in the UK, where he is based. “I’m usually in Mumbai every two or three months, but I don’t always tell,” he says.
Bhatia, the consulting chef at Ziya, arrives in the city this week to launch a gourmand menu. “I try to change the spread every one or two years. The menu is an effort to present international food trends.”
The chaat platter at Ziya
Able to keep a keen eye on how the evolution of food trends in India matches up to those in the West, Bhatia sees consumption heading toward smaller portions. “It is taking on a haphazard look; clean lines are out, especially in Europe. There’s a lot of deconstruction and organised messed, as I like to call it, playing out on plates.”
Flowers and herbs are a hit, and chefs are preferring to stick to one bold flavour, he shares.
On his latest menu, a dish he’d like to discuss is the curry leaf prawn. “Curry leaves are banned in Europe. Did you know that? The pesticides used to store them are raising an alarm,” he says, making us imagine the ruckus news of this sort would create in India.
Also read: In conversation with chef Vineet Bhatia
Staying true to Mumbai’s spirit, he is trying to capture the essence of street food. That brings Kolkata-born, Bangkok based star chef, Gaggan Anand to mind, although unlike him, Bhatia steers clear of molecular gastronomy.
“I am also doing a bhekti with a crust of macademia nuts. Indian food should not end with kaju, pista and badam purees. This I will serve with green peas upma and beetroot and lentil sauce.” Bhatia, whose culinary philosophy has been Indian at heart but modern in presentation, wants you to close your eyes when you take a bite. “You should be reminded of your country,” he hopes.
On the dessert front, too, he stays with that thought, bringing to the table a coffee-flavoured halwa and caramelised banana kulfi.
“Designing a menu is like setting musical notes. There should be highs and lows, so that guests don’t get bored.” On one of the special service nights, that is November 19, the dinner menu sees three chefs from Oberoi — Chef Adriano Baldassare, Chef Ruben Santos and Bhatia — weave flavours of three distinct cuisines into one five-course meal.
“We figured that Indian, Italian and Japanese are loved by Indians, and they all have the umame flavour in common. The salty, meaty flavour in mushrooms, tomatoes and Asian miso.”
Chef Vineet Bhatia
On the menu is sea bass too, with a tadka of burnt garlic and chillies. “The burnt garlic adds a sweeter, nutty taste, and the chilli, a necessary kick. This, we will serve with a Japanese black bean sauce,” he shares.
Bhatia speaks of rounding it off with rasmalai cheese cake that carries a Macha tea flavour, and the Italian panacota in coconut.