Serving Thaalis to Australians

How did Pani Puri land on the menu of Tonka, one of your restaurants in Melbourne?

Q. How did Pani Puri land on the menu of Tonka, one of your restaurants in Melbourne?
A. My sous chef is from Mumbai, and that’s why we included it on the menu. It is something that people there have never tried or seen before. Either they love it or they don’t get it.

Adam D'Sylva
Adam D’Sylva cooking at Olive Bar & Kitchen, Qutub, Delhi. The 37-year-old chef (who is half Indian) was in the city last week

Q. How has Indian food been received in Australia?
A. With Indian food there was a preconceived notion that it’s full of ghee. But my kitchen is a ghee-free zone! We use olive oil to cook and a lot of fresh Australian produce that helps to make Indian cuisine fresh and punchy, and not too heavy. This change in the way of cooking had been received well. We have everything from Goan Fish Curry and Biryani to Lamb Curry on our menus. Indian food has great heritage and history, which can be presented in different ways.

Q. While you experiment with Indian food to increase its appeal, many chefs aren’t open to reworking traditional recipes. What’s your take?
A. I feel fusion cuisine is the wrong term to present any cuisine. Cooking is more about enhancing the different nuances of any cuisine and hence re-interpretation is the key to present your food to different audiences. This can be done by understanding the key elements of any cuisine and mainly — the produce used to cook. The food industry today is very huge in Australia, and with so many cooking and food shows on TV, people are catching on to it.

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