A LEAP OF FLAVOURS
AMARANTA AT THE OBEROI, GURGAON, OFFERS A FRESHLY ENGINEERED MENU, DEEPLY INSPIRED BY THE ICONIC, MICHELIN-STARRED NOMA IN COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
Chef Tejas Sovani, executive sous chef at Amaranta, The Oberoi Gurgaon has been Noma-fied—that’s how we describe him after his three-month stint at Chef René Redzepi’s two-Michelin-star restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark. The young chef is back in his kitchen cooking up an exciting storm of Indian flavours with a delicious contemporary twist. So while at his restaurant, don’t be surprised when you hear fancy culinary terms such as sous-vide, flash-grilled and dehydrated. Expect minimalist plating and maximalist flavours.
MY FOOD STORY
After graduating in hotel management from the Oberoi Centre for Learning and Development (OCLD), I was inspired to give cooking my all; it became a passion, an obsession. I wanted to showcase the best of Indian flavours to an ever-evolving audience in a way that would wow them. All the executive chefs that I have worked with during my career have been my mentors. I feel there’s something I have learnt from each one of them—unique and inspiring— that has made me who I am today, a bold, playful and confident chef.
INDIAN WITH A TEJAS TWIST
At Amaranta, we believe in personalising each interaction with our guests. We spend time explaining the menu and the finer nuances of the dishes such as the ingredients, method of preparation and the cuisine philosophy to them so that they feel for the food like we do. My personal style is what I call a
‘play-ted menu’, blending authentic regional recipes and unusual flavour pairings to curate a truly memorable experience. A meal here is like a culinary journey in itself, where stories are told via food that is rooted in the familiar but plated to play with your senses. The menu is brimming with modern techniques and ideas such as dehydration, sousvide, fermentation and dehydration (things that I picked up during my training years) but we make sure that the flavours are easily identifiable and not lost in transition.
DIVERSITY IS THE NAME OF THE GAME
The inspiration for the menu we have carefully crafted is diverse–-from havelis in Lucknow and traditional “gams” in Saurashtra to the rarified classics of the Jain Paryushan to the ‘deras’ of Punjab. So on the new menu you can find dishes such as Kolkata Street Bento Box, Lal Maas Kachodi with Aloo Subzi, a Farsan medley with Dabeli Bao, Khakra Crisps, Dhokla Pakodas and Chilli yogurt dip.
THE NOMA EXPERIENCE
To say that I enjoyed working with Chef René Redzepi at Noma would be an understatement of the century. Rene is a visionary and always breaks down a dish from its grass-root level to dig deeper into the history of the flora and fauna of that particular region, and we present our menus at Amaranta in much the same way. Inspired by him, at Amaranta I have a team of six regional cuisine specialists from Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Bengal and Rajasthan who have been handpicked from small-town eateries, to protect the authenticity and simplicity of their cuisine. Their repertoire spans century-old recipes to recently evolved runaway successes.
Attention to detail is everything. Foraging at Noma, for example, meant starting very early in the morning to source a list of ingredients for the menu. We used to head out in our jumpsuits and gum boots accompanied by a few chefs who have a degree in Botany, for our daily visits, so that they could help us procure the best possible herbs and ingredients. Our discoveries included wild berries, exotic varietals of plums, wild mushrooms, garlic flavoured Chantrelles and nettles that are grown in the wild. It was quite an experience and made me realise how important fresh ingredients are for a chef.
Today, the world has a whole new understanding of Indian food, where individual regions are claiming the spotlight. I keep exploring small town markets in search of key seasonal ingredients and authentic regional recipes that are coupled with constant experimentation for our menu. Chefs today have refined recipes, create new dishes, pay more attention to the quality of ingredients and sophisticated
presentation. One must know that no matter how successful you are in adapting your cuisine to suit foreign palates, all revolutions have to be indigenous. Indian chefs are inspired to curate menus primarily keeping Indian guests in mind and are looking beyond the usual dishes to create a revolution.
There’s a certain rhythm that underlines interesting storytelling with each dish in a tasting menu. Right from the fusillade of starters, one can enjoy bite-sized portions high on flavour, texture with elements of surprise, each designed to give the guest a glimpse of what’s to come. At Amaranta, our culinary philosophy is everlasting freshness, with an ability to put a twist on recognisable Indian flavours, and we want that to be the highlight in a guest’s dining experience.
Everyday cuisines are being discovered and re-discovered. For example, the curry has adapted to whichever environment it has been exposed to. And in a way, it has managed to grow beyond India. Marrying ingredients and creating something new will always be the motto. And like all experiments, there has to be a right mix of instinct and intelligence. In the last 100 years, there have been multiple lifestyle changes, in the way the climate has changed, agriculture, farming and so on. It is important that we care for our ingredients. It’s crucial to pay attention to the freshness and authenticity of the produce you work with.
FAVOURITE DINING EXPERIENCE
I have immense admiration for Chef Rene Redzepi of Noma for his food, for he has a passion for experimentation and a love for local seasonal ingredients like no other chef in the world. His playful deconstruction of dishes and the classical fine dining approach to fresh ingredients is awe-inspiring. My alltime favourite restaurant in the world is the renowned restaurant Mugaritz, tucked away in a quiet corner of Spain. The dining experience there is unlike any other —simple, thoughtful use of ingredients and gorgeous presentation. That is my food philosophy too.
Ghizaayat—meat pate croquettes, lamb in picklinG spices, spiced lamb brain GouGers wilderness, a confit of kinG mushroom, Green and black Gram and curried coconut sauce
the KolKata street box with jhal muri, aloo Kabuli, phuchKa, radha ballavi and ghugni