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Kitchen Confidential: Ranveer Brar

Kitchen Confidential: Ranveer Brar

Celebrity Chef Ranveer Brar thinks it is high time we start including local farmers in to our dinner table conversations

Snigdha Sharma
February 01 , 2018
05 Min Read

OT: How did Raja Rasoi Aur Andaaz Anokha come to be?

Ranveer Brar: The show on Epic Channel  has been one of my favorites ever since it came on air. In fact I almost did the first season of the show and shot a pilot for it too. Unfortunately, schedules overlapped and it didn’t work out then. It’s amazing how the universe sent it back my way and I got to be a part of Season 3.

OT: In every episode of the show you share stories and anecdotes about the food you prepare. Tell us how important these stories are for understanding and preserving the rich and cosmopolitan culture of this country?

Ranveer Brar: Be it discovering a new dish or retasting an old one, it is the stories about food that establish our connection to it. When we hear an anecdote about a particular dish or its ingredients, it makes the whole experience of eating even more memorable. Take our festivals for instance, the food prepared is in sync with seasons and it influences what and how people eat during these festivals. Understanding where we come from, where our food comes from, food practices, ingredients goes a long way in appreciating what we have. It forms a bond that naturally makes us protective of that legacy.

OT: The local cuisine of a place often gets affected according to the number of tourists who arrive there expecting familiar tastes. Is there a way to strike a balance between the two? 

Ranveer Brar: Touristic expectations at a culinary level stem from two things broadly – first is the perception they build on the basis of information they find online. The second is the individual's perception of taste and his/her food preferences. The food and culture of any place go hand in hand. It is equally important to appreciate and preserve the culinary heritage of a place, which is what makes it stand out at the end of the day. Certain establishments do draw inspiration from the local food to recreate those tastes and present a more balanced and modern take on traditional foods. But then, the true essence of the local cuisine of any place in the world lies in its street food.

OT: With more than half of the world’s population residing in cities now, food is being industrialized at a global scale. This has put indigenous food cultures including traditional cooking techniques around the world at the great risk of being lost forever. In light of this, tell us how concepts like slow food and farm to table can be revived among the masses?

Ranveer Brar: These concepts can definitely be revived among the masses very simply by incorporating agriculture and farmers into the conversation as much as we can. We are reaching a stage where the source of food has become markets and supermarkets. On a sub-conscious level, we are becoming unaware of the original source, which is land. In that context, I believe that creating conversations around the land and farmers is the first step towards creating actual awareness about the food. Steps like these also work towards reviving concepts like slow food, farm to table and so on. For instance, at Fort Alila and Bishangarh, we have set up an organic farm close to one of the restaurants. Here guests can choose their ingredients and have them cooked right away! It is a humble effort, but aims to connect patrons directly to the food source. Also, while people have glamourized farming and there are a lot of urban farmers who have made farming look cool, there’s still the original farmer who is struggling to make ends meet. I feel they need to be spoken about just as fervently as the urban farmer, so the benefits actually reach them. It’s equally important to pledge to eat local and seasonal, if not ultra-local then definitely seasonal because it makes us think, study and research what’s available at a given time of the year. It will also benefit producers and allow them to grow what nature allows them to grow. This then eventually leads to a healthier ecosystem overall.

OT:  Tell us about some of the most interesting cuisines you encountered on your travels across India.

Ranveer Brar: It’s difficult to pin it down to a few since we have such a rich culinary map. But if I have to name a favorite few, I would say Lucknowi (which I grew up with and am partial to), Goan Saraswat, as well as Goan in general, and Syrian Catholic.

OT: Please share a simple local recipe from anywhere in the country.

Ranveer Brar: I happened to visit a small village near Jodhpur inhabited by the Bishnoi tribe who set a wonderful example of living in harmony with nature. Here, I met an interesting personality called Shanti Devi who treated me to an amazing meal consisting of rabodi, a simple sabzi made of sun-dried jowar papads and raab, a buttermilk drink thickened with bajra flour. I was further amazed when she told me that she could prepare at least 50 dishes using only those ingredients!

OT: Tell us more about the upcoming season of Raja Rasoi Aur Andaaz Anokha

Ranveer Brar: The next season is definitely going to be more exciting. We are looking at a newer venues as well as a lot of aspects of Indian cuisine that have been touched upon. So yes, the team is very excited to take the new season to the next level.


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