I recently got the opportunity to witness celebrated Chef Michael Swamy in action, at a cook-off organised by Fairfield By Marriott. It turned out to be a fun evening, as Chef Swamy, alongside Chef Aniket Das (Executive Chef at Fairfield By Marriott, Rajajinagar) demonstrated a few recipes from Maharashtra and Karnataka. The best part? The Chefs showed the audience, consisting of food bloggers and foodies, how to cook these dishes in a healthy way, without having to compromise on the taste.
The cook-off began with Chef Das demonstrating a dish from his childhood in Maharashtra, usal made with moong sprouts. He explained how the dish is full of nutrition, thanks to the addition of moong sprouts and is made with extremely little oil. It can make for a lovely breakfast option, he said.
Next up, Chef Swamy showed the audience how to prepare Fish In Chinchoni Masala. Chinchoni masala is a special kind of spice mix used in the coastal areas of Maharashtra, that adds spicy and sour flavours (‘chinch‘, in Marathi, means ‘sour’). The masala can be prepared very easily at home, and imparts a beautiful reddish-orange colour to any dish that it is used in. The fish used in this particular dish was steamed (rather than fried) and cooked in very little oil, making this a healthy yet flavourful preparation.
Lastly, both the chefs jointly demonstrated a Karnataka-special recipe – Ragi Shavige aka Ragi Vermicelli Upma. All of us know of the numerous health benefits that ragi (finger millet) possesses, and this upma is a delicious way to use all of that goodness, Chef Das stated.
Both the chefs then expressed their desire to make Indian cuisine better known in the world. ‘India has such a vast culinary heritage. Every little part of the country has several indigenous foods to boast of, and yet, when the world talks about Indian cuisine, it is mostly understood to be just a few dishes like chicken tikka, masala dosa and chicken curry. That is so not the real picture,’ said Chef Das.
‘The only way to clarify this misconception is through masterclasses like this, where people get to know the real breadth of Indian cuisine,’ said Chef Swamy. That is so very true, when you come to think of it, no?
The cook-off ended with a beautiful high tea that showcased selected dishes from Maharashtra and Karnataka, like pao bhaji, podi idli, ragi dosa, bhel poori, vada pav, gobi manchurian, mirchi bajji, onion pakoras, thandai, cutting chai, filter coffee, and mango milkshake. Delectable much!
I have to thank the chefs as well as Fairfield By Marriott for this very well-presented, thought-provoking, and informative cook-off!
About Chef Michael Swamy
Chef Michael Swamy is a well-known figure in the Indian and international culinary world, with a career spanning over 20 years. This Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef has had the honour of having cooked for and served several prestigious personalities like Sir Andrew Pagewood and Prince Charles. He has authored two Gourmand Award-winning books, The East Indian Kitchen and Easy Guide To Pairing Indian Food & Wine. His third book, Comfort Food, co-authored with Mugdha Savkar, was released recently.
Chef Swamy has worked as food critic and feature writer for various magazines and periodicals, such as Jetwings and Jetlite (in-flight magazines in Jet Airways), Liquid, and Asian Photography. He has also contributed articles on various aspects of world and Indian cuisine, patisserie, desserts and sweets, for various newspapers, magazines and websites.
In February 2017, Chef Swamy launched his own restaurant, Nueva, in New Delhi, where he serves his take on South American cuisine.
About Chef Aniket Das
Chef Aniket Das heads the kitchen at Fairfield By Marriott, Rajajinagar, Bangalore. This culinary artistry expert has been associated with the Marriott group for over 7 years now, juggling various roles in different hotels in the group. He has also had international exposure with a 2-year stint at the Movenpick Hotel in Doha, Qatar, as Executive Sous Chef.
Chef Das believes in keeping his flavours authentic and his plating artistic.