Mumbai Food: This pop-up features delicacies from Kerala's Malabar region

Updated: Dec 07, 2016, 15:27 IST | Shraddha Uchil

As his culinary venture Esca Brahma completes a year, Sandeep Sreedharan says memories are integral to creating good food

Slow-cooked Mackerel, Salt-baked Taro
Slow-cooked Mackerel, Salt-baked Taro

“I remember visiting my uncle’s house in Ooty as a young boy, and plucking plums in his garden. I also recall my aunt preparing a delicious slow-cooked mackerel,” says Bandra-based chef Sandeep Sreedharan. This memory, along with many others, will find its way into a pop-up meal he will be hosting this weekend as part of his culinary venture Esca Brahma, which is turning one.

Seared Salmon, Pulimulagu, Tapioca Charcoal, Podi, Nasturtium
Seared Salmon, Pulimulagu, Tapioca Charcoal, Podi, Nasturtium

Sreedharan’s specialty lies in interpreting coastal flavours in a modern way, with fresh ingredients and seafood taking centre stage. While this might sound like something that’s been done before, what sets him apart is his focus on food from one specific place, North Kerala.

Aired Tayir Saadam, Idli Textures, Charred Pineapple, Coconut Air
Aired Tayir Saadam, Idli Textures, Charred Pineapple, Coconut Air

“I grew up in Mahe, a former French territory, which sits by the sea in Kerala’s Malabar region. So, all the food I create features simple flavours that are drawn from the region’s cuisine and, of course, my memories. Every time I create something, there is a memory that drives it.

I then play around with different textures and ways of presenting a dish,” he says.

Sreedharan’s foray into the culinary world happened in the most unlikely manner. After spending several years as a management consultant, he decided to quit his job last October. He says, “I had no formal training when I decided to start Esca Brahma, but food has always been my calling. Everything I’ve learned is from my travels, followed by plenty of research.”

He adds, “My job would take me around the world. I used to try different cuisines at various restaurants, and I realised flavours from our country could be elevated too. People think of South Indian food as spicy and restricted to only a handful of items; I wanted to change that perception,” he adds. He started cooking more and more, experimenting with flavours and textures and, along the way, acquired culinary techniques and nuances that helped him put a humble cuisine on the global map.

In a year since its inception, Esca Brahma has gone on to cater over 50 dinners, mostly private affairs, with the occasional pop-up meal thrown in. Sreedharan hopes to start a commercial venture soon, possibly in the form of a restaurant. “I’m not a professional chef; I am still learning. At the end of the day, I’m still a work in progress,” he concludes.

On: November 25, 8.30 pm to 11.30 pm 
At: Magazine Street Kitchen, Gala No 13, Devidayal Compound, Gupta Mills Estate, Darukhana, Byculla (E). 
Log on to: insider.in
Call: 9820330144 
Cost: Rs 4,000 onwards

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