Flavours of freedom


By N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe
New Delhi, Aug 15 (IANSlife) As we celebrate India’s 75th Independence Day this year, it is interesting to look at regional cultural ideas, each with its own customs, traditions, language, and cuisine. Food is at the heart of quintessential Indian culture, and to get to its rich culinary heritage IANSlife speaks to five chefs to find out what regional cuisine means to them.

Chef Rajesh Kumar, Executive sous Chef, The Claridges New Delhi; Chef Prasad Metrani, Director of Culinary, Conrad Bengaluru; Chef Mayank Kulshrestha; Chef Sahil Arora, executive chef at Hyatt Regency Dehradun and Chef Prakash Joshi, Head Chef of Colossal Hospitality’s Kynd Cafe speaking about their love for regional food.

Chef Prasad Metrani, Director of Culinary, Conrad Bengaluru

“I feel very proud of how our country has transformed from a captive nation to one of the fastest developing economies. 75th Independence Day and Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav is a momentous victory for all of us,” says Chef Prasad Metrani, Director of Culinary, Conrad Bengaluru who has 17 years of experience in the industry, “Regional food is extremely diverse and in my journey of 17 years, I have been lucky to see how varied ingredients and spice notes blend with one another. Goan food, Maharashtrian food, and South Indian breakfast dishes are my favorites. Indian regional food is very ingredient specific and has a certain flavour and aroma. Every regional dish has one hero ingredient that plays a major role, giving your dish a unique flavor.” This year Kerala-style Chemmeen curry flavors are my preference says Chef Prasad.


For the Coconut curry paste:

Coconut 200 gms
Turmeric powder 5 gms
Red chili powder 20 gms
Coriander powder 30 gms
For shrimp curry:

Coconut oil 50 ml
Shallots 20 gms
Ginger 2 gms
Garlic 3-4 cloves, sliced
Green chilies 10 gms
Curry leaves a sprig
Coconut paste the above quantity
Tomato 50 gms
Tamarind 10 ml
Shrimp 300 gms
For tempering:

Coconut oil 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds half tsp
Fenugreek seeds 3-4
Shallots 1 tbsp, thinly sliced
Curry leaves 3-4, torn

Blend the coconut curry paste with a little bit of water till smooth. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan, Add shallots, ginger, garlic, green chilies, and curry leaves. Sauté till lightly browned and fragrant.
Add the coconut curry paste, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the tomato and cook till softened, 3-4 minutes.
Then add the tamarind water and plain water and boil for 5 minutes till lightly thickened.
Add shrimp and cook for 2 minutes.
In a small pan, heat the oil for tempering. Add the other tempering ingredients. Turn off the heat when mustard seeds crackle and shallots are golden in color. Add to the shrimp coconut curry and mix well.
Keep curry covered for half an hour before serving.
Serve with rice, rotis, or other Indian flatbreads like sodas, appalls, idiyappam, etc.

Chef Mayank Kulshrestha

Chef Mayank Kulshrestha who participated in the regional food haunt recommended his favorite traditional south Indian dish Kari Kozhambu recipe. He said, “The curry has the right combination of spices with desiccated coconut and poppy making it a mouthful bust of tastes. The tender mutton in this curry creates a mouth-watering aroma. I love to eat it with Idiyappam.’

Ingredients I 4 Portions (YIELD:- 1.5 ltr)

Oil 120 Ml
Cinnamon 2 x1′ piece
Cloves 3 no
Cardamom 5 no
Onion 200 gms
Tomato Chopped 200 gms
Ginger Garlic Paste 30 gms
Red Chilli Powder 25 gms
Dry Coconut / copra 60 gms
Coriander Powder 25 gms
Fennel Powder 10 gms
Cashew nut 80 gms
Poppy Seed, paste 30 gms
Coriander Leaves 15 gms
Mutton Curry cut 750 gms
Few Curry leaves
Diced Potato 100 gms
Drumstick (2 inch long) 100 gms
Salt to taste

In a handi heat oil crackle whole garam masala, add chopped onion sauté till golden brown
Add ginger garlic paste, add mutton pieces & cook till it leaves water & becomes pinkish in color
Add chopped tomatoes to the mutton, then spices and curry leaves
Make a paste of poppy seed & Copra and add to gravy cook well. Add diced potato and drumstick to mutton Gravy & simmer till done.
Check for the seasoning & garnish with coriander leaves
Serve hot

Chef Sahil Arora, executive chef at Hyatt Regency Dehradun

“Regional cuisines are deeply rooted in the Indian heritage, with every few kilometers one can experience different flavors and ingredients being cooked in local households. I feel it is very important to preserve these local, regional flavors as they keep the heritage and culture of our country as vibrant as it is. My favorite regional food is Aloo ke Gutke with Hara Pyaaz Parantha – a delight from the Garhwal region of India,” says Chef Sahil Arora, executive chef at Hyatt Regency Dehradun.

Make full use of your holiday preparing this Spicy Bread Bombs with Saunth Chutney recipe shared Chef Sahil by at home and enjoy it at leisure!


boil potato mash 0.012grm
cumin seeds 0.002grm
coriander seeds 0.002grm
coriander chop 0.01grm
mint leaves 0.005 grm
tomato chop 0.01 grm
greenchilli chop 0.005 grm
hing 0.001 grm
oil to fry 0.2 grm
salt 0.005 grm
chaat masala 0.005 grm
white bread (slice 6)0.01 gram

Crackle the cumin, and coriander seeds in hot oil,
Add green chili, chop tomato, coriander, and mint chop.
Mix the grated potato to make the mixture, and add salt and chaat masala.
Just soak the bread slice in lukewarm water, and stuffed it with the potato ball.
Layer the potato ball with the bread slice tightly.
Deep fry it in oil, and serve it with mint chutney.

Chef Rajesh Kumar, Executive sous Chef, The Claridges New Delhi

Speaking about regional food Chef Rajesh Kumar, Executive sous Chef, The Claridges New Delhi says, “Punjabi food has always been an all-time favorite for me. It is rich, full of flavors, and has varieties in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Punjab itself as a state is rich in history and culture, so, if I have to choose a cuisine to celebrate our Independence Day, I would definitely go for Punjabi cuisine and finish it with a mithai.”

To remember the dawn of a new beginning while indulging in the flavors of freedom Chef Rajesh shares the Motichoor Laddoo recipe to sweeten the day.


For Boondi:

2 cup besan/gram flour
2 tbsp Rava / semolina / suji (fine)
one fourth tsp saffron food color
1 and a half cup water
oil for frying
For sugar syrup:

1 cup sugar
half tsp saffron food color
half cup water
one fourth tsp cardamom powder
half tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp cashew / Kaju (chopped)
2 tbsp pistachios (chopped)

Step 1 Make the boondi batter: To make this traditional Indian sweet at home, take a large bowl to add 2 1/2 cups of gram flour, then mix orange color and mix it well. Then, add some water and a little baking soda. Blend the mixture well and make sure there are no lumps. Once the blend attains a perfect consistency, it’s time to move to the next step.
Step 2 Prepare the boondi: Now, heat ghee in a large deep frying pan. Place a perforated ladle (jhada) on top of the oil and add some of the batters. Slowly let the boondi batter fall in the oil and cook them on a low flame, till properly cooked. Once done, place the boondi on tissue paper to remove excess oil.
Step 3 Prepare sugar syrup and mix with the boondis: Then, take a pan and add some water and sugar, allow this blend to boil until it attains a two-string consistency. Then add some cardamom powder and let it cook. Then add the boondis and cook till the sugar syrup and boondi is perfectly mixed. Cover it with the lid and turn off the flame.
Step 4 Garnish and relish! Grease your hands with a little ghee and start shaping the laddoos. Place them in an open tray and garnish them with some crushed nuts and indulge in the goodness.

Chef Prakash Joshi, Head Chef of Colossal Hospitality’s Kynd Cafe

Joshi’s favorite regional dish is Vegetable Seekh Biryani made with carrot, beans, cabbage, and a variety of other vegetables, says, “Every vegetable has a different taste and texture and that’s what I like about it. There’s so much freedom in the flavor! Indian food needs to be highlighted this Independence Day because of how unanimously the elements come together!”

To commemorate the 75th year of India’s independence, Chef Prakash shares a vibrant color of the India flag resemblance Sushi recipe to make at home.


Sushi rice 500 gms
Sushi Japanese vinegar 50 ml
Nori sheet 15 gms
Salt 10 gms
Pepper 5 gms
Oil 100 ml
Avocado 250 gms
Tempura 250 gms
Tobanjan 50 gms
Mayonnaise 250 gms
Wasabi 350 gms
Ginger pickle 500 gms
Kikkoman sauce 250 ml
Spinach 2 Kg
Carrot 500 gms

Wash rice at least three times or until water is clear, Fill rice cooker or casserole with water to about 1 inch over the rice, Over high heat, cover and bring to a boil, Reduce to medium-high heat and boil vigorously for 20 minutes, Reduce heat to low and cook a further 20 minutes, Remove from heat and let sit, still covered, for another 20 minutes, In a small saucepan, slowly heat the Japanese sushi vinegar, and sugar until very hot but not boiling. Fold in “Su” (vinegar and sugar) with the hot rice, Place rice carefully in a clean bowl, cover, and let rest for 30 minutes. Divide Rice In Three Parts, For Red Rice Combine carrots in the processor and blend until smooth, For Green Use Blanched Spinach in Processor And Blend Until Smooth.
On a sushi mat, place a sheet of Noori, Lightly pat rice on the bottom two-thirds of Noori. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of rice, Place avocado, and fried tempura flakes on top of rice, Finish with a few drops of Wasabi Oil, Roll up sushi tightly, moistening the edges to seal, and let rest, Cut the roll with a sharp damp knife and drizzle spicy mayo on top. Serve with soy sauce, pickled ginger, spicy mayonnaise, and a small amount of wasabi paste on the side.

(N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe can be contacted at lothungbeni.h@ians.in)


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