It is said that the passion for food unites all, and this adage certainly holds true for father-son duo Vir and Raaj Sanghvi. NDTV Food caught up with the renowned personalities for an exclusive conversation centred on matters of the palate and much more. They spoke at length about their cooking experiments, the best meal they had, the Sanghvi family's food traditions as well as upcoming trends for the restaurant industry. It was evident that the author and entrepreneur both share an ardent zeal for all things food. Read on!
1. What's the dish which is a must at every Sanghvi family get-together?
Both of us are adventurous eaters and love experimenting with new cuisines and exotic ingredients when we travel. But the truth is, at home, we typically celebrate special occasions and family get-togethers with comfort food like Chaat. Perhaps it's our Gujarati gene; we love the Paani-Puri and Dahi Batata Puri from Soam in Mumbai!
2. Raaj, did you ever consider a career in journalism inspired by your parents?
Journalism in India was very different when my parents started out. Today, newspapers and print publications have lost out to TV and digital media. The news tends to break on Twitter and other social media platforms. While I do contribute and write articles for media publications intermittently, it was never a serious career option for me.
3. Vir, what's the one thing you learnt from your son Raaj?
I haven't learned it yet, but I wish I had Raaj's ability to make friends with people, especially with top chefs. He has the world's greatest chefs on speed dial and the friendships are real and genuine. I do know some chefs, but mine are foodie friendships based on talking about cuisine. Raaj, on the other hand, will go out for the evening with his chef pals and travel around the world with them.
4. How did you spend the lockdown period? Any cooking experiments or foods you tried?
Like most other food lovers, we spent the lockdown ordering-in as much as we could. There was so much misinformation during the initial period, when we were still learning about how Covid-19 worked. We took extra precautions while accepting outside food. We did experiment with cooking easy things like pasta and risotto. We make a mean version of Bucatini Amatriciana - a popular Roman pasta with lots of guanciale and pecorino romano!
5. We have seen home chefs come up in a big way during the past one year. How can we encourage and give them a platform to showcase their talent and recipes?
The lockdown gave rise to a large group of passionate foodies that had time to hone their culinary skills through YouTube and experiment in their home kitchens. But no one in India really does anything for home chefs and as an industry we tend to concentrate on restaurant and TV chefs. Culinary Culture's home-chef contest is our attempt to showcase India's vibrant home chef community and highlight the stars among them on a national platform. It's a philanthropic initiative, with no strings attached or sponsors involved. It was conceptualized to encourage Indian home-chefs and reward them with cash prizes.
6. Mock meats and meat substitutes are becoming the new buzzwords. Do you feel the Indian market will adapt to these vegetarian and vegan meats?
Mock meat has been around for decades. Even in India, Chinese restaurants in the 90's had mock-duck and mock-chicken options on the menu. In the past couple of years, people have become more health and environmentally-conscious, and the mock meat phenomenon has earned greater global media attention. In the West, well-funded companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have gained market share and forced traditional big fast food chains to update their menus and embrace the trend. Even a great chef like Daniel Humm of the three Michelin Starred restaurant, Eleven Madison Park in New York, has transformed his approach to food and gone vegan. It would be naive to say that this trend will not reach India eventually.
7. Tell us the cuisine or the dish which you feel is currently trending the most on the International radar.
We haven't travelled abroad since the first lockdown so let's stick to India. There are three hot lockdown trends and interestingly they all have to do with comfort food. Perhaps we were all so worried and insecure that we needed comfort rather than adventure. The first trend is baking. Everyone bakes now. If it isn't sourdough bread, it is pies, cookies and cakes. The second trend is burgers. Every restaurateur and his dog are now making delivery burgers. And the third is biryani. It's the most ordered delivery meal. But not enough people make it at home.
8. Your most memorable meal and dream foodie destination?
We've had many memorable meals around the world together. A couple of years ago, we flew to Modena, a small town in Italy, to eat a meal cooked by Massimo Bottura at the three Michelin starred Osteria Francescana. We also flew down to eat the last meal served at the old Gaggan restaurant in Bangkok, before he closed and reopened at a new location.
But not all great meals are eaten abroad. The last time Heston Blumenthal was in India we had an astonishing lunch cooked for Heston (and us!) by Chef Ghulam Qureshi and served in a sun-filled terrace at the Maurya in Delhi, where we had the best Kakoris and two different biryanis, washed down with Puligny Montrachet and Sassicaia!
The one foodie destination that we haven't done together yet is Japan. And it definitely tops our bucket-list.
9. Any Sanghvi family food tradition or recipe that you'd like to share. We're all ears!
Eating too much! Neither of us drinks much (usually only wine with meals) but we make up for it by eating too much. When it comes to our food, nothing succeeds like excess!
About Aditi AhujaAditi loves talking to and meeting like-minded foodies (especially the kind who like veg momos). Plus points if you get her bad jokes and sitcom references, or if you recommend a new place to eat at.