Food, culture and identity

We look at six top chefs across India, who are blending sustainable practices with a grand gourmet experience.

The food philosophy of most top chefs revolves around strong belief in food provenance. Taking lead from the ethos of ‘fresh and simple’, they take pride in continuing their endeavor to offer produce and technique centric cuisine. Some years ago chef Anurudh Khanna, who is always inquisitive to learn was inspired by a quote that still drives him today, “The road to success is always under construction”. For chef Paul Kinny his cooking could hardly be considered far from the west’s idea of the ideal epicurean experience!

When asked, chef Naidu says that his love of cooking started at an early age in his grandma’s kitchen. Little did he know that his love of combining the freshest of ingredients, and his religious approach to ancient recipes would take him to heading dining needs of luxury hotels in India. “My philosophy towards cooking has always relied on using the highest quality of locally sourced ingredients possible and sticking to the traditional cooking techniques,” he says. In a mark departure to liking of ‘Home food by most Chefs’, chef Rohit Tokhi prefers dining at the places he visits and tasting the real food from local streets/markets or even households if possible. “Whether in the cooking technique, presentation and ingredients used, it is important to keep the essence of the core ingredient (meat/vegetable) true to its root,” shares chef Praveen Shetty.

Having started his career under the mentorship of Austrian Master Chef Werner Matt, chef Hermann Grossbichler began his culinary journey as a kitchen commis. To him, food is an art and often an expression of culture and identity.

Egg Hopper

Fast-action dried yeast: 1tsp
Rice flour: 200
Golden castor sugar: 1pinch
Coconut water, plus a little extra for thinning: 300ml
Coconut milk: 200ml
Sesame oil: for frying
Eggs: 2


In a jug or bowl, dissolve the yeast in 50ml warm water and leave to bubble for 15 mins.

Put the flour and sugar in a bowl with a pinch of salt. Add the coconut water and milk and whisk it continuously to avoid lumps, then add the yeast mixture and mix it until you have a smooth batter. Cover it with cling film and leave to ferment for 2 hrs.

When it’s time to cook the hoppers, whisk the base mixture again to remove any lumps. It should be the consistency of double cream, so add a splash more of coconut water to thin it if needed.

Heat a lidded, non-stick frying pan or small, lidded, high-sided wok until very hot and brush on a little sesame oil with kitchen paper. Add a ladleful of mixture to the pan and immediately swirl it around to create a bowl-shaped pancake. Cook, uncovered, for 1 min, then cover with a lid.

Cook for 1 minute or until the edges start to colour, then crack an egg into the middle of the hopper and put the lid on. Cook for 3 minutes or until egg white is cooked but the yolk is still nice and runny.

The hopper should be soft and spongy in the middle and crisp at the edges.
Remove and set aside, then repeat with the remaining batter. Serve it with coconut sambal i.e. made by freshly grated coconut, garlic and dried whole chilies (or chili powder).


Chicken Krapow Rice

Steamed jasmine rice: 180 grams
Chicken mince: 80 gms
Chopped garlic: 10 Gms
Chopped bird eye chilli: 10 gms
Chopped red onions: 5 Gms
Thai red chilli sliced: 5 Gms
Haricot beans chopped: 10 Gms
Fresh Basil leaves: 2 nos
Fish sauce: 5 ml
Non veg oyster sauce: 8 ml
Dark soy sauce: 10 ml
Chilli paste: 5 Gms
Chilli oil: 5 ml
Sugar: 5 Gms
Chicken broth powder: 8 grams
Potato starch: 5 grams


Heat the wok with oil, sauté garlic, onion and chilli. Add chicken and cook.

Toss the steam rice with basil leaves, Thai chilli and seasoning.

Separately, sauté garlic and chilli in wok and chicken stock to it.

Add oyster sauce, fish sauce, dark soy and seasoning to it and thicken with potato starch.

Add the rice in a serving bowl and top with the chicken krapow sauce,
While serving pour the hot sauce on rice clay pot


Ancient Grian Risotto

Oyster mushroom: 150 gm
Milky mushroom: 150 gm
Bottom mushroom: 150 gm
Shimeji mushroom: 150 gm
Black rice: 60 gm
Germinated brown rice: 60 gm
Garlic: 30 gm
Thyme: 20 gm
Guajarati barley: 60 gm
Fresh red chili slant slice: 5 gm
Black pepper crushed: 10 gm
Olive oil: 20 ml
Unsalted butter: 30 gm
Parmesan cheese: 50 gm
Microgreens: 10 gm
Sundried tomatoes: 10 gm
Parmesan shaving: 5 gm
Onion: 20 gm


Sautee mushroom with garlic, Thyme, onion, and make a mushroom ragout,
Boil all three rice until al Dante and mix mushroom ragout into rice.

Once done finished with butter and parmesan cheese.

Garnish with chili slice, sundried tomato, parmesan shaving, and microgreens.


Lobster Nerulli

Lobster Meat: 720 Gms
Shallots Cleaned: 250 Gms
Chopped tomatoes: 200 Gms
Chopped green chilli: 10 Gms
Ginger /Garlic paste: 20 Gms
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Cumin seeds: 10 Gms
Red chili powder: 20 Gms
Coconut milk: 10 ml
Turmeric powder: 10 Gms
Salt: To taste
Coconut oil: 20 ml
Curry leaves: 10 gm
Fresh coriander leaves: 10 gms
Lemon juice: 30ml


Take a brass pot and heat coconut oil, add cumin, mustard seeds and whole shallots and sauté, till brown. Add the red chilli powder and sauté.

Take out the shallots in a separate bowl and keep aside.

Add chopped tomatoes and cook. In a separate pan sauté the shallots and then add to the tomato base. Add prawn stock, salt and turmeric as seasoning.

Marinate the lobster with salt , turmeric and deghi chilli Sauté in a separate pan and add to the base. Finish with coconut milk. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with hot appams.



Idli Rice: 1 kg
Urud Dal Split: 2 cups
Fenugreek seeds: 1tbsp
Pandan Leaves: 10 Nos
Salt: To Taste


Soak idli rice, urad dal, and fenugreek seeds separately for 4 to 5 hours.

Grind the urad dal and fenugreek seeds to a smooth and fluffy batter. Grind the rice after removing urad dal batter in a bowl. Mix both the batters together in a bowl with adding salt. Ferment the batter for 8 hours.

For Steaming Moode: Make Pandan Leaf as long round shape, pour the fermented batter in to the leaf cup then steam it. Pour the batter into the Leaf cup. Steam cook this for 20-25 min. Take out the Moode and allow it to cool for 5-10 min.

Serve hot with coconut chutney.


Kacche Gosht Ki Biryani

Mutton curry cut: 800 gms
Basmati rice: 500 gms
Brown onions: 200 gms
Ginger paste: 010 gms
Garlic paste: 010 gms
Red chili powder: 010 gms
Coriander leaves: 015gm
Mint leaves: 15gm
Green chilies: 50gms
Garam Masala: 25gms
Curd: 250 grams
Saffron: 1gm
Oil: 100 ml
Ghee: 30 ml
Salt: As per taste
Potli Masala: 100gm


Wash and soak the rice for 50-55 minutes.

Marinate the mutton over night with Garam Masala, chili powder, curd, chopped coriander ,mint , green chilies , ginger garlic paste salt, Keep aside.. Soak the saffron in warm water.

Boil 5 liters of water with a little salt and Potli Masala. Allow it to boil till the flavor comes out. When the water starts boiling add the soaked rice.

In the meantime, transfer the marinated mutton into a deep bottomed pan which has a tight lid.

Once the rice starts boiling, drain the water and layer the rice over the marinated mutton in the lagan. Sprinkle the saffron mixture over the rice. Add ghee.

Cover the lagan with the lid and cook on a high temperature until it starts steaming.

Then cook on a medium flame for 45 to 50 minutes; till mutton is tender and all the moisture is absorbed.

Garnish with brown onion, coriander and mint.

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