She started helping her mom in the kitchen when she was 10 years old and by the time she was 13 she started cooking in her free time after school. “By then I knew that I wanted to be a chef,” says chef Anahita Dhondy. “I got the perfect opportunity with SodaBottleOpenerWala and AD Singh’s vision to revive the dying tradition of Bombay Irani café. That’s how I become a chef,” she says .
by Swati Sharma | New Indian Express
The very first time I entered the kitchen at SodaBottleOpenerWala in November 2013, when we opened the first outlet in CyberHub, Gurgaon, I felt like a kid in a candy store. It was fascinating, till the time your bubble bursts and you are told to move fast. My first shift was long, tiring and very, very interesting. I remember being told to do multiple things, and went back home exhausted.
When our house was being made, special instructions were given that the kitchen has to be the same size as any other bedroom. We’ve got a wooden table in the middle of it, and it been designed by my parents beautifully. It’s the most special and warm place of the house and definitely my favourite.
Common cooking mistake
There are several small mistakes people make while cooking. For example, sautéing onions and garlic till the right stage will take the dish a notch above or cutting vegetables the same sizes so that cooking is done evenly.
Where would you like to eat again
There are many very nice restaurants in Delhi/NCR and some that I have been in other cities and countries. Yum Yum Cha in Delhi, and Fatty Bao in Bangalore for my pan-asian craving, Guppy by Ai nails my Japanese love; Gourmet Burger Kitchen in London for juicy meaty burgers with skinny fries, Olive Bar and Kitchen in Delhi for Chef Sujan’s The Tasting Lab – where he pushes the boundary of modern cuisine, Dum Pukt for the best Indian food ever, Al Kauser for their kakories and Big Chill Café for their consistent food and desserts. There is several worth mentioning, especially road-side cafes.
Favorite part of being a chef
The last six months has been a very interesting journey, we opened new outlets in Bangalore in April followed by Hyderabad in May. My profession has enabled me to meet people across the country. Whenever I get the time, I love talking to people about food. Interacting with guests who come to the restaurant and want to know more about the food is also very heartening.
Dish you struggle with
There really isn’t something that I’ve completely given up trying on but yes, I can say there are many techniques which are difficult in the culinary world and you need to practice it to improve your skills and get better at it over time. Making dosas, or popatji’s (similar to the Japanese tokayaki) and even certain pastry skills are difficult, but nothing that I am likely to give up on.
Guilty food pleasure
I love chocolates, and ice cream, really juicy barbecued pork ribs, pepperoni pizza, and lots of wine and beer. And a lot of Tiramisu. They are extremely irresistible as overloaded on sugar and fatty, and will lift your mood instantly. At SodaBottleOpenerWala we worked very hard on the desserts and you will find me gorging on the Toblerone Mousse from the menu.
Food is taking the direction which is either going back to its roots or getting fancier or futuristic by the day. Today, people are aware and know about what they are eating. They are constantly looking for something new, quirky, dynamic. Regional food is a highlight and modern Indian is upcoming and getting popular.
Our country is endowed with some of the freshest and exotic vegetables. It is diverse from the North to South and East to West. We have some wonderful ingredients which we tend to overcook and misuse. Restaurants should use seasonal produce besides procuring items from all over the world. We have millets like jowar and bajra, herbs like tulsi and neem and fruits like the ice apple which are brilliant to use. I would say go back to your ayurvedic books and start looking for the ingredients your grandmother used to cook with.