What’s on Chef Gaggan Anand’s Plate?
Whipping up a quick breakfast at Four Seasons Hotel, chef Gaggan Anand served up a charcoal vada pav, a microwaved idli and a disintegrated egg burji. In between talking about this spin on the classic breakfast, he also made it a point to reiterate several times that he hates preparing a breakfast menu and he would never do it again. He also confirmed floating rumours about setting up his restaurant in the city, which is due next year. Amid all the non-stop food banter on how jalebi batter is the crispiest in the world, and his contempt over the Maggi ban, he also mentioned how he regularly fires people at his restaurant, for not liking their face. And because they had no idea what they were doing (he added later).
We spent a well-nourished morning with the jovial and extremely innovative chef, and squeezed out some home truths. Binge away…
1. Gaggan in Bangkok… “Bangkok chose me. I landed at Bangkok and I never left, like a typical Indian. I was supposed to be there for three months, but it ended up being the best journey of my life and Gaggan (his restaurant) happened.”
2. Best food memories… “My mother’s food. I love everything she makes like bharta, arbi, chole and matarwale chawal. My cooking is based on her food and the memories of that taste.”
3. Favourite food spots… “Lahore in Kolkata, biryani from Shiraz, Bengal Fish Fry, and my roll-walla. I used to go to Amber for all my birthdays. I love Bengali wedding food and used to wait for winters, to get invited to weddings. Those were the best dinners I have ever had!”
4. The very first dish you prepared… “Maggi, when I was 13.”
5. Greatest inspirations… “Inspirations are everywhere. But my greatest inspiration is Chef Ferran Adria.”
6. Kitchen nightmare… “I hate creating a breakfast spread. I worked at a hotel where I created a menu of 186 items for breakfast, and usually I would spend 18 hours of my day doing just that. It is something I will never do again.”
7. Next big food trend… “Humble home cooked food. Why do we want a risotto when your khichdi is better?”
8. In your fridge… “250 magnets on my fridge. Actually I have two fridges, because one isn’t enough. But you would usually find sugar-free chocolates, Haagen Dasz’ Yuzu and Citrus Cream, and Japanese cakes.”
9. Best food destinations… “Thailand, Japan, Spain, Italy (I call it ‘eat’ly) and Hong Kong.”
10. An evergreen dish… “Tandoori chicken from Amber.”
11. On your blacklist… “Broccoli”.
12. An Indian dish to die for… “Puchka!”
13. An ingredient that you would ban… “Ants!”
14. Favourite dessert… “A kilo of rasgulla, dahi, two kilos of gulab jamun and half a kilo of jalebi.”
15. Food apps on your phone… “Open Rice, Where Chefs Eat, and Good Fish Guide.”
16. Current obsession… “I have started collecting salts. I have around 200 different salts from around the world and my kitchen has all the possible sauces.”
17. Food tips… “1. Start cooking with Canola oil, it’s the healthiest form of fat.
2. Never calculate the cost while cooking because then you would restrict your creativity. Cook what you can in your budget.
3. Cook seasonal products. Don’t cook a mango in winter and a strawberry in summer.”
18. Power ingredient… “Love. It gives soul to food.”