Gregory Bazire and Pritha Sen discuss how essential mustard is in cooking
Gregory Bazire and Pritha Sen of soon-to-open eatery Mustard discuss an integral ingredient in French and Bengali cuisines - the zingy mustard
Atria Mall woke up from dormancy with the launch of nightclub Maatahari in January 2017, followed by Swey in February. Since then, Spare Kitchen has made it its second home after Juhu. Soon, there will be a zingier reason to visit the mall, with upcoming restaurant Mustard. If you've been to the Goan outpost in Sangolda, your mouth is watering already, right?
Two chefs from different parts of the world — Gregory Bazire from Normandy and Pritha Sen from Bengal — celebrate their love for a common ingredient in their native cuisines: mustard. And don't sweat, not all the dishes want to overwhelm you with it. The two have stuck to their cuisines and dug out home-style and complex urban recipes to give you the best of both worlds.
Moules Gratinèes a la Dieppoise: This dish comes from the north of France. Prawns, mussels and salmon are mixed in white sauce and topped with crunchy bread crumbs, and baked.
'My food should bring a smile on your face'
Bazire grew up in Trouville in Normandy, where his parents ran a brasserie, Les Vapeurs. At the age of 13, he started working in the summers to earn a quick buck. "I did the job of a waiter, from loading wine in cellars to placing butter and bread baskets on tables. I then moved to the back of the kitchen, peeling mussels and fish, and during the winter, I was a coat collector," says Bazire, who went to the US to work under chefs Michel Richard and Jean Louis Paladin at their Michelin-starred restaurants in Los Angeles and Washington DC, respectively. He followed this up with a stint at a culinary school in Strasbourg. In 1996, when he went back to work with his mother in Normandy, the concept of bistronomy — a more refined style of cooking in a casual café — was already on his mind and Bazire incorporated it into his work philosophy.
Souffle Glace a l' Absinthe: A frozen soufflé, it comes laced with absinthe on a pool of vanilla bean sauce. The cool taste of fennel in this iced version of the 18th-century French dessert is rather unique
In 2005, he wanted to travel and ended up in Goa. "I wanted to settle in Chile or Goa; the village life suited me. I like the generous people in Goa, and life is simple," says Bazire, who ran Le Poisson Rouge and set up Om Made Café in Anjuna. Then there was no looking back. He started consulting for restaurants across India.
Chef Greg Bazire
In 2015, he met Poonam Singh, the owner of Mustard, who brought Sen on board to set up the restaurant. "We are doing the food of our roots, and each dish is prepared to bring a smile on your face," says Bazire, whose focus is to offer familial, or homestyle, and bourgeoise cuisines that are more elaborate and refined. "But, you will get a taste of classic France. [There will be] no tweak in the recipes for the Indian palate," he adds.
According to Bazire, there is a contrast in French and Bengali flavours. "Bengalis pack in one strong punch, but with the French, you have to bring all the different condiments, garnishes and sauces together for the final flavour. The French use mustard in condiments to complement meats. We do sauces for fish and meat, and preserve fish with mustard. It is also a base for mayonnaise," he explains.
Kanchkolar shammi kebabs: The sweetness of green banana kebabs is cut with a spicy green chutney and a roasted chilli and mustard relish. Served with coriander chutney and banana chips, this is a perfect monsoon indulgence.
'Bengali food is big on mustard'
Over a phone call, Pritha Sen, whose food is all about the culinary history and gastronomy of the region that was once undivided Bengal, stresses that the entire menu is not about mustard. "It's typical of what the Bengali culture of eating is, and obviously mustard plays a big part — we use mustard seeds in tempering, mustard oil to cook, mustard paste to flavour. We have a strong connect with mustard. It has grown here from time immemorial, so is a readily available source," she says, explaining that mustard paste is a fresh paste usually used in fish curries, while kasundi is made after fermenting mustard seeds and adding spices.
Her idea of the menu is to encapsulate the culinary history of Bengalis. "The food goes through complexities, imbibing influences and styles to create more [intricate] recipes. The traditional styles were all about steaming, boiling, sautéing and making soupy curries without the use of overbearing masalas or oils. With time, we imbibed influences and made it the Bengali food that it is today, complete with garam masala, green and black cardamom, cinnamon, star anise and dry fruits," she signs off.
Mal pua: Our heart sinks when we get our thick pancake-like mal puas, with just a gentle slather of rabri. We need more of the malai
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