Was cooking always your first preference?
It was the only preference. I never wanted to do anything else other than to cook professionally and then expand my arena in the food and beverage sphere.
How did coming from a culinary family shape up your journey?
I was exposed to culinary arts from a very young age as I belong to the third generation of a family intimately involved in Delhi’s catering industry. I started my culinary journey at IHM Pusa. Becoming an Industrial Trainee at the Oberoi, a Management Trainee with the India Habitat Centre and a Sous Chef were the three major milestones of the first phase of my professional life. Working and learning with the best chefs during that period became the core of my food sensibilities and strengthened my interest in cooking.
How was your experience working across international ventures such as the French ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Irish Food Board?
It was extremely enriching. It made me understand food and beverage, not only in terms of produce and plates but also cultures. Every plate, every bottle has a story that needs to be told. I also worked with the Meat and Livestock Association of Australia. Travel became an integral part and led me to a greater understanding of people and what’s on their plate. It made me a better chef, irrespective of the fact that I was not cooking in a kitchen.
What has been an unforgettable cooking experience for you?
Whenever I conceive a dish, a plate, or a drink in my head and transform that thought in my kitchen or the bar, it is an unforgettable experience. The joy of creation is unparalleled. The moment of truth is when my guests take that first bite or the first sip — that’s when it comes full circle.
Your signature style of cooking is ‘Collaborative Cuisine’. Can you describe it for us?Food, I believe, has broken the cuisine barrier. The meal plates are ingredient- and mood-specific instead of being cuisine specific. Collaborative Cuisine was coined when I conceived Titlie, my culinary bar in Goa. It is when two or more ingredients, food techniques or inspirations, jam on a plate that the result is more than the sum of its ingredients. It’s abstract and all over the place, yet forms a pattern and tells a story. A classic example would be the butter garlic, black pepper prawns, with sambhar puree and Pol sambol. It’s a take on a Singaporean dish, with a hint of the Kerala sambhar and a Sri Lankan chutney. At Titlie, the Hummus Plate is topped with bhindi kurkuri. My food philosophy is ‘Gourmet Casual’ and represents a way of life. The offering is big, hearty, bold and gourmet, yet unpretentious. The idea is to make the familiar more exciting and the non-familiar more approachable.
Your restaurant — Titlie in Goa — is a rage amongst travellers. How did the idea for it come about?
Titlie was conceived as an Indian international hospitality brand for a beach front. The first physical manifestation happened in Goa, but it could have been Bali or Miami too. It’s the best of Indian hospitality for a global audience. As for the name – well, like a butterfly evolves from a caterpillar that crawls to [having] beautiful wings and flying, Titlie is lazy in the day like a caterpillar, and eclectic with a full flutter in the night. This transformation, this journey that we take everyday, is the essence of Titlie.
What does your ideal meal look like?
An Ideal meal for me feels like joy and warmth. It showcases the intent with which it's cooked and it brings a smile to the face. It could be dal chawal, or a lobster. It's not the ingredients but the motive with which it's cooked that will make it an ideal meal.
Chef Sibal’s favourite dishes out of the Titlie menu
Butter Garlic Poached Prawns
A true testament of collaborative cuisines, this has been part of the menu from the beginning. It’s a burst of bold flavours and textures
Harissa and Rose Roast Chicken with Green Lentil Tabbouleh
Acombination of chilli and sweetness, it is a true delight. And when it gets mixed with the greens from the tabbouleh, it offers a unique blend