Drawing a map of modern India


I remember the first time I tried Trèsind Mumbai’s 10-course tasting menu. I never expected what would happen next.
He told us how well thought out and personalized this menu was. Eight months later, while sitting with him at his restaurant, I told him that he hadn’t replied to my long fan mail. He apologized many times and I felt embarrassed.

Manchurian Sai 2

Saini has worked with Manish Melotra, one of the faces of modern Indian fine dining with an Indian accent. He then went to the Masala Library and helped create some of Farzi Café’s most popular dishes (the Parle G Cheesecake is a genius). He then moved to New York and then Dubai. Tresind he founded in Dubai in 2014 followed by Carnival and Tresind Studio in Dubai where he served tasting menus to around 20 guests. Tresand Mumbai also opened at the same time.

Tresindo Mumbai

He said he didn’t know what he was doing, but with Trèsind and Trèsind Studio ranked 18th and 4th respectively on the first edition of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in February, he was on his way. In the Middle East and North Africa, and shortly after, Trèsind Studio was the only Indian restaurant to receive a Michelin star in the first-ever list published by the Dubai Restaurant Guide. became.

Trecindo Dubai

“As I evolved, so did my food. As we all continue to evolve, so does food in its own way. At least in my restaurant, I don’t believe in the specialty cuisine philosophy. When we opened Trèsind, we made it theatrical because that was the need of the moment, but now our approach to restaurants has changed: Trèsind is a family-friendly experience, but a fine dining environment. Carnival opened in 2016, but it’s more casual, and Trèsind Studio is where you want to do things that are focused, micromanaged, and more elaborate,” he elaborates.

Torresindo Studio

Every headline you see about Saini immediately mentions modern Indian cuisine, but his same view goes back to a conversation with chef Hussein Shahzad last year.He said he was sick of the word “modern.” Saini agreed, saying, “It’s absolutely impossible to define Indian food. wasabi in the kitchen. Indian cuisine was modernized from his 16th century, and even before that, given its colonial history, bread was first introduced when there was no notion of pubs and freshly baked bread. It was all flatbread. It is more important to understand our basics first. All Indian spices are used differently in every kitchen. Then think about modernization. Can you explain chart masala and its 100 ways to use it?

Of the factors that shape what we essentially call modern Indian cuisine, Saini explains that Indian cuisine is complex, so service and aesthetics that simplify it are important. “I want him to serve 20 different dishes, but the balance, the pace, the way he delivers them, that’s the modern He’s an Indian.”

His new 14-course tasting menu at Tresind Mumbai does just that. We are sitting hungry. But first comes the cucumber panipuri with preserved pear, feta and dill leaves. Then butternut ravioli, sage pesto, Palakpata. Golden fried dalvada comes with carrot shots Chinese characters, perfectly balances the tongue of Chinese characters With vada spiciness. Each course is spaced and explained by the server. While waiting for the meat, slow-simmered lamb nihari curry is placed on the table. needle Avoid filling up with pav. But thank God I am not. Candovi Ice cream with pickled papaya chili milk.

The protagonists of these 14 courses are: khidi Indian. Plain Kihidi contains saffron from Kashmir, green apple from Himachal, butter from Punjab, ghee from Haryana, pumpkin seeds from Rajasthan, papaya chutney Curry leaves from Gujarat and Karnataka. The server will tell you the masala when putting each pinch. We’ll leave it up to you to mix it up and let you know if you want to take it along with the side of the card.I think I might write an ode to this khidi soon.

chicken chettinad

“You are right when I said that modernization is also service. It’s an important part of the food experience,” he adds.

Dubai is a melting pot of cultures and attracts tourists from all over the world. In fact, it seems like a good destination to introduce Indian cuisine to the world. At the same time, it also means catering to different tastes and witnessing the shift in the typical Western traveler’s taste for Indian food. Did Saini witness the shift? “Occasionally an Englishman would come and say that the food wasn’t spicy enough, and if we compromised to suit everyone’s tastes.

Well why would I do that? Everything from India is not hot. Gal Ka Kana It has chili peppers on the side. We don’t compromise on anything when it comes to numbers. There is a misconception that Indian food is always spicy. tandoori Bread or rice on the menu. A pleasant surprise as Europeans still have low standards for Indian food.

Also, meals are always Panipuriwhen people finally take a bite, we give them another.

pani puri martini

As a second-generation chef after Manish Mehrotra and Gaggan Anand, what does Saini feel are the challenges facing chefs creating modern Indian cuisine today? “Chef Manish always told me to cook the way I wanted to, but the essence of that should not be compromised.

In progressive Indian cuisine it’s very easy to deviate.A perfect balance with drama
ridicule. The theater should add value to the food and experience. I was hooked for a while, but I learned from my mistakes,” he admits.

Prior to Saini, chefs such as Vikas Khanna, Manish Mehrotra, Vineet Bhatia and Atul Kochhar were dedicated to bringing Indian cuisine to consumers around the world. I point out that Saini is also part of that movement. “That’s not enough,” he says. Apart from Gaghan, he doesn’t have a single restaurant on the World’s 50 Best list. These chefs have accomplished a lot, but Indian cuisine is still not on par with the rest of the world. do.

Saini’s restaurant getting the recognition it deserves seems like a positive step towards our positioning and I’m optimistic that the best is yet to come. We believe we can add a dish to the list of dishes we all know so affectionately as traditional Indian dishes.

quick take

Underrated Indian food: Kashmiri cuisine
Most overrated Indian food: chicken tikka
Meals that can be eaten three times a day: sambal vada
Indian chef you would like to collaborate with: Hussein Shahzad
5 favorite dishes in the world: A bowl of ramen, South Indian cuisine, shrimp Balchao O Pedro, pork ribs with Indian accents, chicken curry from Rajinder Dhaba (Delhi)

(Featured image: Duck Cafe Real)