India’s Savya Rasa has brought collaborative cooking with Ireland’s most eminent Indian chef and restaurant, aka Pickle, Chef Sunil Ghai’s invention that offers a reliable Indian cooking experience that emphasizes the North Indian cuisine cooked with the finest Irish produce. Excerpts from the interview:
Tell us a bit about yourself and your culinary journey?
I was born and raised in Gwalior and come from a Punjabi family and the love of good food runs through our veins! Perhaps inspired by my foodie family adventures, I decided to do my hotel management from Gwalior. I started working early at the age of 17. My childhood memories center around food. We loved to cook and celebrate with delicious food. I met the love of my life and got married to Shitti Ghai (Leena) who is from Shimla and moved to Ireland in 2001 and made this beautiful country our home. It was in 2016 that I started with a gastronomic journey and opened a restaurant in 2017 and another in 2020. My culinary skills received some recognition and I was lucky to win the award for the best leader of Ireland twice. I have been the recipient of the Best Indian Chef in Ireland award four times. My restaurant has also been awarded several times.
Why did you choose a South Indian restaurant for your first international restaurant when Pickle is from North India?
At Pickle, there’s a story behind every dish – a reminiscence or relationship behind the fragrant sauces, boulevard dishes, complex stewed meats that relate to the homecoming idea of using fresh ingredients, locally sourced and cooked with love.
Savya Rasa’s cuisine redefines coastal culture at its best; a vigilant and comprehensive study of South Indian cuisine that takes you back to dark times; unfinished without the finesse and novelty Chef Sheik Mohideen brings with it. Sheik’s extensive 15-year gastronomic journey speaks volumes about him as he fervently strives to set milestones with new projects, every fleeting day. The food artist credits the credit for tracing the roots and restoring them like molds by performing the almost unmanageable task of retaining culture through every recipe.
A union between the two, has been set up to create a one-of-a-kind tasting menu cooked with the finest Irish produce, showcasing the restaurant what the best South Indian cuisine has to offer. The Pickle team is exceptionally enthusiastic about working with Savya Rasa, and the name of the restaurant seems to perfectly sum up why: Savya Rasa was created to celebrate the richness of South Indian cuisine and culture. Very often, thanks to stereotypes, many people outside South India consider Idli, Vada, Sambar, Dosa, etc. like classic South Indian dishes. However, South Indian cuisine has all of this and more to offer. With the food Sheik creates, Savya Rasa seems to fit the bill perfectly. We organize dinners on our two grounds. In 2023 I will be traveling to Savya Rasa to present my culinary philosophy of what we do at Pickle here in Dublin.
What was the favorite dish of the Savya Rasa pop-up guests at Pickle?
Guests loved the tasting menus. Savya Rasa had taken over the entire restaurant for the weekend and we only sold the Special Menu (at the price of 80 Euros). It was a huge success. However, one dish that really stood out was “Sainu Thahta’s Chicken Kebab with Coconut Cashew Cream”, which is tender pieces of chicken marinated with cashew cream. , coconut milk, ginger and garlic paste, salt, green chillies, coriander paste, skewered and grilled. on a hot plate. A Malabar home caterer and maker called “SAINU Thatha” invented this from the influence of Arabic skewers and modified it with his native ingredients in Malappuram district of Kerala.
Which ingredient do you prefer to work with?
I like to cook fresh seafood with fresh herbs like cilantro, mint and basil. I like the taste of rapeseed oil. It reminds me of my mother using mustard oil all the time while cooking. The flavors come out so well with canola oil, especially if you’re cooking Irish lamb, vegetable curries, or even tempered lentils.
What is your favorite dish to cook at home?
I like to cook chole bhature at home or simple yellow lentils, matar mushrooms and aloo gobhi with pulao and chapati with boondi raita – simple holistic Indian dishes. Chole Bhature has a special place in my heart as my dad loved it and always brought it whenever he brought home food. In 2019, while I was on vacation in India, my dad asked me to do chole bhature. I was under immense pressure as I knew he was quite knowledgeable about this dish. Luckily he loved it and told me to do it again when I get back next year. But unfortunately, it never happened again!
What is your favorite kitchen equipment?
The good old mortar and pestle. My mother is my inspiration and she has never used a grinder or blender. I saw her making all the spice pastes and powders in a mortar and pestle.