Mumbai food: Grant Road vegetable bazaar trail with UK Chef Shaun Kenworthy

Nov 08, 2017, 09:21 IST | Phorum Dalal

Armed with "kitchen Hindi", UK chef Shaun Kenworthy drops by Grant Road's bhaaji market for a crack at blending desi veggies with continental cooking styles. Here's what happened

IT has been an early start for chef Shaun Kenworthy. He flies in from Kolkata at 3.30 am, dumps his bags at the hotel and meets us at Grant Road station vegetable market. It's sveltering, but he's excited to find something he has not cooked with before.

Prawns and yogurt
Chicken and Wild Garlic

Arun D'Souza, new executive chef of Doppio, is around to guide us. The 47-year-old UK chef, who has been brought on board to consult on a new menu for the Breach Candy restaurant, holds up a leafy bunch for D'Souza, as vendors giggle at the camera. "Aluvadi," he tells him. At the same time, we butt in, "Patra!" Kenworthy has made up his mind that he'll use the taro leaves.

veggie market
At Grant Road veggie market. Pics/Falguni Agrawal

Kenworthy first came to India 17 years ago as executive chef at Kolkata's Park Hotel, where he met his model wife and stayed back. "My house is close to Lake Garden SuperMarket. I love being there at different times of the year. In winter, the vendor ladies sit with 40 types of saag," he shares excitedly.

Bazaar halt
By now, he has picked up enough "kitchen Hindi". Kenworthy has shopped for a bunch of wild green garlic and purple yam. We think of Gujarati undhiyu, but he only grins. "My cooking training is French-style, and I don't like to waste ingredients. So, if I am using an orange, I will use the zest and candy the pit. I don't know how many young chefs understand that today," says Kenworthy, wiping the sweat off his brow but not the enthusiasm in his stride. Having grown up in a small town near Manchester, he tells us one of the first meals he had at a restaurant was an Indian one. "It was a small town but it had six to seven Indian restaurants. I visited it at the age of eight for my grandparents' anniversary. I grew up with Indian mates too. The mass migration of colonial expats had started in 1971. A lot of Patels were my friends."

Kenworthy's tryst with Indian vegetables keeps going back to his cooking in Kolkata. "I love the pui shak (water spinach) for its edible stemmy part. It tastes a lot like kale," he adds, explaining that he prefers using individual masalas over ground mixtures. "Turmeric only soils the linen."

The noisy, bustling market, with scooters parked in the middle of the road, is nestled between two rows of buildings. Kenworthy halts at a sprouts vendor. "People travel across India, especially the north, and talk about non-vegetarian dishes. But, Indian cooking to me is about vegetables; the individual flavours they bring is so interesting. You can do so much more with texture, colour and taste. While the world is coming to terms with vegetarian cooking, it has been engrained in India for centuries."

Kitchen hop
Our shopping bags are full and it is time to head to the kitchen to rustle up a meal using some of our stash - Pui shak, tendli (ivy gourd), laal math (red spinach), mogri (radish pods), guava, sweet potatoes, purple yam, wild garlic, baby aubergines, puri, channa chor garam, patra.

At work  in the kitchen
At work in the kitchen

Kenworthy believes in simple cooking methods and fresh ingredients. "A lot of my style is European. Take the Italian chefs for example, they are the laziest. They hardly use any elaborate ingredients and will give the least possible treatment to their dishes. Even Greek cuisine is known for its handful of ingredients."

In the kitchen, with his apron on, Kenworthy gets into warrior mode, chopping, frying, sautéing, and roasting. He deep fries the tendli, aubergine and mogri, cuts the purple yam and sweet potatoes and puts them in the oven for baking. He takes a chicken breast with the skin on, and grills it in a pan, and wraps it in the green garlic and sets it in the oven to roast.

Chicken-and-Wild-Garlic
Prawns and Yogurt

We watch him as he pops in ingredients, improvising with every step. He grills prawns, grates guava and slices the water chestnuts. All this comes together in two dishes - Chicken Baked in Wild Garlic with Purple Yam and Sweet Potato; and Prawns Pan-roasted South-India Style. Rustic, simply executed dishes, we prod him to tell us if they'll make it to the new menu. "What we cooked today was seasonal, and I'll have to ponder over it," he grins, inviting us to dig into the food that has already enticed us with bold fragrances.

RECIPES

Chicken Baked in Wild Garlic with Purple Yam and Sweet Potato
(Recipes serve four)
Ingredients:
4 220 gm chicken breasts with skin on
2 sweet potatoes
2 purple yams
200g beetroot
30 grams yogurt


Method:
Pan-sear the chicken breast and cover in wild green garlic and bake in oven at 200C for 7-10 minutes

Wash the sweet potatoes and roast at 200 degrees Celcius for 45 minutes to an hour
Cut the purple yam into squares, dry roast in oven at 200 degrees Celcius for 45 minutes to an hour and then pan sear for colour
Boil the beetroot until tender and add the yogurt with a pinch of salt, cumin, salt, pepper and drizzle olive oil. Add water if needed.

Prawns pan-roasted with ideas of the south with guava-waterchestnut remoulade
(recipe serves four)
INGREDIENTS
20 prawns
100 gram yogurt
Laal saag (red spinach)
2 unripe guavas
100 gram water chestnut

METHOD:
In a hot pan, throw in the prawns, sear until half cooked and add mustard, cinnamon, star anise. Just before they are done, add curry leaves
To the yogurt add pinch of roasted cumin, salt, drop of vinegar acidulate
For the remoulade, finely shred guava and water chestnuts. Squeeze a lemon, honey, salt and pepper to taste

RECIPES CREATED BY CHEF SHAUN KENWORTHY

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Recipes

Chicken Baked in Wild Garlic with Purple Yam and Sweet Potato  (Recipes serve four)

Ingredients:
4 220 gm chicken breasts with skin on
2 sweet potatoes
2 purple yams
200g beetroot
30 grams yogurt

Method: Pan-sear the chicken breast and cover in wild green garlic and bake in oven at 200C for 7-10 minutes. Wash the sweet potatoes and roast at 200 degrees Celcius for 45 minutes to an hour cut the purple yam into squares, dry roast in oven at 200 degrees Celcius for 45 minutes to an hour and then pan sear for colour boil the beetroot until tender and add the yogurt with a pinch of salt, cumin, salt, pepper and drizzle olive oil. Add water if needed.

Prawns pan-roasted with ideas of the south with guava-waterchestnut remoulade (recipe serves four)

Ingredients
20 prawns
100 gram yogurt
Laal saag (red spinach)
2 unripe guavas
100 gram water chestnut

Method:
In a hot pan, throw in the prawns, sear until half cooked and add mustard, cinnamon, star anise. Just before they are done, add curry leaves
To the yogurt add pinch of roasted cumin, salt, drop of vinegar acidulate
For the remoulade, finely shred guava and water chestnuts. Squeeze a lemon, honey, salt and pepper to taste

Recipes created by Chef Shaun Kenworthy

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