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Unleashing three common myths around dining, culture, and cuisine- PART I

16-Jun, 2022

Welcome to an animated topic – unleashing myths around dining as related to cultures and cuisine. This round, we shall keep it fun, discharging tales from several conversations I had with guests, friends, or diners.

Hopefully, we all learn from each other, and I will continue to learn along this journey.

Myth 1- All Indian food is curry

Generally, Indian food is “best” associated with curries, an inseparable term. Let’s zoom in deeper into this new lens affixed indiscriminately – perspective. What Indian cuisine offers is more than the colors from a kaleidoscope.

- Roast- I grew up in an environment where traditional cooking was inherent. My aunt used a mini hearth full of live charcoals to roast eggplants. As kids, we watched in awe, with shades of worry that shoot up with those drops of moisture as they ooze out from the eggplants as they roast…falling on the live charcoal. I remember both- rising flames in smoke patterns “and” those spikes of roast flavor in our meals. Precious!

Another famous cuisine that comes to mind is mutton ghee roast, seared until the meat is tender in (organic) ghee or clarified butter.

- Steamed- As I have shared, filleted fish steamed with some smooth and spicy chutney to get the soft, flaky steamed fish will go down memory lanes, passed to many generations.

- Fried- from light pan-fry to deep-fried, fried cuisine is a huge part of several meals in Indian cuisine. From vadais (vada), cutlets, and galouti’s (light pan-fried vegetarian patty), the essence of fried cuisine comes with ingenuity, especially for chefs vying for a 5-star rating. Chefs know the drill.

- -Baked- the popular naans or flatbreads you have tried at some phase in your life are all baked. They bake it in a hearth called Tandoor. Biryani’s, which were royal to the kings as “the” meal that commands respect, is baked in a vacuum, a.k.a Dum.

- Stuffed- pan-fried or baked- Stuffed brinjals, bitter gourd, ladyfinger, or capsicum are plenty of options here. Difficult to prepare and picks many brownie points.

- Soups- while this is “generally” not the favorite as soups don’t speak volumes or accolades, soups and sorbas (clear soups) have been at the table for ages! Discerning diners understand that it’s excellent to start light, so soups are getting popular lately, at least in 4-5course meals.

Myth 2- Fusion Food.  We live in this world where everything seems fusion.

This word irks me, as it’s used so loosely today that it begs a clarification, after which we shall honor your verdict.
Instead, I would underscore the renowned “innovations” that Chefs take a lot of pride in the world of fusion, some of which make sense while the others don’t. Take a Taco Pizza and a basmati maki, or at the other far end, we hear rasam engulfing a raw oyster appealing to some modern Indian cuisine. This is like immersing yourself in a whirlpool of “fad” delight as one still tries to figure out what happened at the end of those crucial 5 seconds of consumption. And though we respect these, I bet you won’t try these at home . We try too hard sometimes, I guess.

Following the above instances, the probability is less than half if we aspire for our food to be remembered. Past that, fond memories would be a stretch!

@ Chef’d club, we follow the wiki definition – Ref- Wiki- Fusion cuisine is a cuisine that combines elements of different culinary traditions that originate from other countries, regions, or cultures.

Yes, several modern dishes we toss up are influenced by French or other European cuisines - Sauces are our trump card, and we are often reminded of the goodness of what we deliver; 3 consecutive years on record. To cite a few we have mastered: Citrus beurre’ Blanc (pairs with fish or rich cauliflower puree), beurre rouge or cognac-based pepper sauces (pairs with red meat ), herb oils (as a dressing), or green peppercorn cream (pairs with chicken or sauteed king asparagus) and finally a classic 100% white wine-based zesty pineapple sauce (pairs with butter-poached prawns) There’s been a lot of debate on why Chef’d club should consider commercializing their sauces as they command a premium, but given resources, and regulatory policies, this goal might need beyond just Chefs.

Myth 3- Fine Dining.  It’s all so fancy, including the food. It looks like you might leave the table half full. 

A well-curated five or 6-course menu, if well thought through, will never leave guests hungry. At Chef’d club, we ensure you experience the finest with every $ well spent. From a quantity perspective, we have moved from “too much food” to “just perfect.”

A guest’s dining experience is paramount. A well-planned fine dining experience to us combines the five elements below.

1: A good table setting, especially the most popular one, is a white tablecloth setting, with each crisp napkin well-ironed, but things have changed quite a bit. Depending on the objective of the dinner, the setup can be a combination of casual or formal dining.All napkins are well ironed.

Choice of crystal and flatware would bring that opulent feel. It must look polished and inviting.

2: Food is served course-by-course. A 30-second pitch from chefs is optional, especially if the dinner is formal (e.g., a corporate team dinner) where guests indulge in closed-door conversations and fantastic food. However, we have seen guests more inclined to engage the chef with some great questions.

3: I know this might sound shallow, but brands do matter at Chef’d club to create that elegant, elevated experience. Finesse comes coupled by default if you are paying 200$ per head. We have no problem if you turn the plate and take a peek.

4: Wine – while the list is often optional, we disagree that alcohol is required for fine dining. Still, if you are game for that ultimate experience, wine pairing is provided. There is a reason behind the chemistry alcohol brings, hitting all those perfect notes of pleasure when combined with food. However, In most cases, it’s optional. It would be wrong if it comes across as consuming alcohol mandatory in a fine-dining environment.

5: Service excellence – this is our trump card. Rest- you must witness it to believe it.

I hope it was insightful. Let’s unravel more next time.

Our motto:  At Chef’d Club, we hope that our food will be remembered