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The desi shift

Indian cuisine finds its place in the spotlight with leading chefs and restaurateurs powering the back-to-roots movement

A ward winning chefs, foodies, home cooks are dipping into the local bounty and coming up with ways to spotlight Indian cuisine with the reverence it rightfully deserves. Chef Prateek Sadhu of Masque returned from a foraging sojourn in Kashmir with the forgotten, humble seabuckthorn. Chef Vicky Ratnani uncovered the precious versions of bhoot jholakia and unknown Naga spices during a trip to the North East. Chef Amninder Sandhu has been championing the no-gas cooking, elevating Indian food to the level of manna, with her tandoor renditions, while making use of mango wood. The mood is certainly upbeat on the desi khana, with the movement gaining rapid momentum.

Garima Arora of Gaa fame (in Bangkok) pulled out the first ace last year in November when she became the first Indian female chef to clinch the Michelin star. A devotee of Indian cuisine, Garima is now powering the Food Forward India movement—a non-profit initiative that flagged off its first chapter, in Mumbai, to reintroduce Indian cuisine to the world with renewed panache. With interactive engagement between chefs, restaurateurs, writers, historians and scientists, it is a collective effort. Prod her as to why it took her so long to propose this idea, and she retorts, “This subject has been gestating in my mind for so long, but the reason it’s happening now is because of the momentum Gaa has gained over the last year. Finally, I have the platform to speak about what is close to my heart and actually do something concrete.”

She is looking to leverage her personal equity and expertise into creating the desired momentum. “With Food Forward India, we hope to create a starting point for future cooks in their career. Most importantly, it is to bring back a sense of curiosity and a more intelligent outlook on Indian food. I hope together we can come up with ways to preserve it thoughtfully and shape it consciously.”

Shilpi Madan for New Indian Express

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