It is rightly said that the more you travel, the more you learn. Travel has so much to teach, whether it relates to culture, architecture, heritage, traditions or food, and one constantly gets to explore a wide variety of things. And that is one reason why chefs nowadays are travelling more in order to lend as much variety as possible to their menus. That’s what Chef Akansha Dean experienced when she went to Singapore recently and tried Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, a local delicacy. She liked it so much that she introduced it to the menu of Imperfecto Shor Cafe. Hainanese Chicken, which is the national dish of Singapore, is a special culinary recipe that is a leftover from immigrants who came from China’s Hainan province.
Narrating the experience she had there, Dean says “It’s been a month since I got back from Singapore and of course I have been missing the street food a lot. And among that what I miss the most is the Hainanese Chicken Rice! Stalls serving Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at the Maxwell Hawker Centre in Chinatown attract the largest number of people with tourists especially making it a point to try it out. I loved the fact that it was warm, fluffy and aromatic at the same time. With the addition of chilli sauce, it makes for an amazing dish.”
Commenting on the history of the dish, she adds, “When the Hainanese left their innate villages on the sultry island of Hainan little did they know they would make a permanent gastronomic mark in Singapore. It is food fit for the gods. Interestingly, chicken rice in Hainan is not served with chilli sauce, and it’s this enthused addition that has made an ordinary dish extremely magical. And then the inevitable happened. I introduced it on my menu at Shor Cafe as dish of the month and hoped people would like it as much as I do!”
Nevertheless, this is just one example. Restaurant India earlier wrote about Chef Abhishek Gupta’s attempt to give local dishes a global look and how his travels influence the dishes he curates. Gupta has travelled to around 15 odd countries and whether it is Italy or Japan, he has always tried to learn and gain experience from different culinary practices and has built up something new from the local ingredients available in the country. “Travelling for me is only to learn from various places and people, and then come back not to replicate something but to create something new, which is not only very Indian but is also accepted by a global diner,” he says. He is a member of Epic, a pop-up dining experience serving ‘experimental cuisine’ at Leela, where they have created more than 320+ innovative dishes.
“This restaurant is more about experimental cuisine, majorly working with a lot of Indian flavours. It is an integration of global experience with local flavours by using local ingredients,” Gupta says. Meanwhile, Together at 12th, an experiential fine dining restaurant, along with the famous Nadodi Restaurant of Malaysia, showcased their authentic nine-course meal to let diners experience a transformative gastronomic journey. Both the restaurants curated dishes which were an amalgamation of Indian and nomad South Indian cuisine. Nadodi Restaurant, which is well known for its ‘nomad South Indian cuisine’, uses flavours and ingredients that South Indians contributed to the region’s culinary diversity when they were settling in the Malay Peninsula and Singapore.