BON Ap­petit

India Today - - LEISURE - —Suhani Singh

Hindi film food doesn’t usu­ally stretch be­yond paani puri, jalebis and the oc­ca­sional wed­ding buf­fet. Raja Kr­ishna Menon’s Hindi re­make of the Hol­ly­wood com­edy Chef, how­ever, aims to whet view­ers’ ap­petites with a much broader menu.

Menon’s fa­ther-and-son food truck en­trepreneurs, played by Saif Ali Khan and Svar Kam­ble, dish out rotza, crispy whole wheat ro­tis filled with moz­zarella and savoury mix­ture of meat, pa­neer or veg­eta­bles. Other dishes seen in­clude ela ada (rice pan­cake stuffed with jag­gery and grated co­conut) and avial (a veg­etable dish with cu­cum­ber, brin­jal, drum­stick and grated co­conut) from Ker­ala; prawn curry and rawa fish fry from Goa and ka­chori chaat from Delhi.

For au­then­tic­ity, Menon roped in Sand­hya C. Ku­mar, a chef, food stylist and food and bev­er­age con­sul­tant in Kochi, to cook the dishes. A grad­u­ate of the In­sti­tute of Ho­tel Man­age­ment in Ker­ala, Ku­mar worked at the Four Sea­sons Ho­tel in Mum­bai for al­most eight years be­fore mov­ing to Thiruvananthapuram to start her own com­pany,

In­dulge-In, which helps set up restau­rants and re­vamp ex­ist­ing menus.

Menon’s a fan of Ja­panese, Chi­nese, Thai, Ital­ian and French cui­sine, too. But he wanted Ku­mar to fo­cus on tra­di­tional and au­then­tic In­dian food. “He didn’t want any­thing out of the blue,” says Ku­mar. “The idea was to show food that au­di­ences can re­late to and that also es­tab­lishes and builds the fa­ther-son con­nec­tion.” Ku­mar and Menon de­cided the menu in ad­vance and Ku­mar’s team cooked and tested the dishes be­fore the shoot to avoid last-minute glitches. And Ku­mar made sure ev­ery­thing looked gor­geous with­out re­sort­ing to ar­ti­fi­cial colour­ing or preser­va­tives.

Food is a cat­a­lyst and not sim­ply a vis­ual in­gre­di­ent in Chef, says Ku­mar. The film high­lights the im­por­tant role that food plays in In­dian cul­ture. “Our hos­pi­tal­ity is all about what we serve our guests to drink and eat—even if it’s a fu­neral, food is in­volved.” Will her dishes look as mouth-wa­ter­ing as the street food seen in Anga­maly Di­aries? That re­mains to be seen. But Ku­mar is cer­tain of one thing—the movie will in­spire view­ers to try the re­gional clas­sics it show­cases.

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