While the global pandemic has left many unable to travel, an international community of Indian chefs is championing the many tastes of India from afar by bringing the food of their hometowns to some of the world’s finest restaurants. This month, in a 30-minute-special, CNN’s ‘Reconnect’ delves into this rich and diverse nation through the eyes and dishes of India’s culinary pioneers. For chef Palash Mitra, cooking Bengali fish curry, or macher jhol, is the one thing that never fails to take him back to his hometown of Kolkata. The city is renowned for its colourful festivals including the Durga Puja. This year with festivities forced to go virtual, food became a way for Mitra to celebrate his heritage from afar.
In his Michelin-starred restaurant in Hong Kong, he has been serving up Kolkata traditions to a whole new audience. In a village just outside of the Northern Indian city of Chandigarh, chef Jessi Singh grew up living the true farm to table experience. Singh would milk the buffalo, churn the milk, and spread the ghee on home-baked bread. CNN learns how the now Melbourne-based chef is bringing this fresh philosophy to his family of restaurants, by serving up dishes that pay homage to his relatives and village upbringing. Chef Garima Arora is the first and only female Indian chef to earn a Michelin star, and was rated Asia’s top female chef in 2019. But beyond her accolades, Arora is also spotlighting India’s uncharted culinary diversity through her non-profit organization, ‘Food Forward India’. Last year, Arora and her team committed to mapping out the cuisine of every state in the country. She started with Telangana, the state she was born in, finding inspiration for several new dishes at her restaurant in Bangkok. Growing up in Delhi, chef Kuldeep Negi learned his craft from the colourful food and spice stalls of the centuries old Chandni Chowk market. Today, Negi is keeping the essence of Delhi’s bazaars alive at his renowned restaurant in Singapore. One of his best-sellers is tandoori prawns, which celebrates the distinctive smoky flavours of Delhi’s tandoors alongside the fresh ingredients available in his new home. For chef Deepanker Khosla, mutton biriyani brings back memories of his childhood in the Uttar Pradesh city of Prayagraj. Inspired by his home, Khosla built a sustainable restaurant in the heart of Bangkok. The restaurant farm conserves rainwater to raise hundreds of fish and over 40 varieties of plants. When the pandemic put restaurant dining on pause, Khosla began serving up his signature biryani to 15 different communities each day.
Airtimes for 30-minute special:
Saturday, December 26 at 4:30pm IST
Sunday, December 27 at 10.30pm IST