Shillong Jan 15,2018: Two chefs – Mayank Istwal, alumni of IHM-Guwahati, and Shivek Suri of IHM Aurangabad – have decided to open a eatery at Houston in Texas, where Indian food is largely unexplored.
‘Sesame pork’ from the hills of Meghalaya and ‘duck curry’ from the backwaters of Alleppey will be among the many indigenous cuisines served with a twist at a new restaurant in Texas soon.
“The restaurants in the US mostly dish up kebabs and butter chicken as Indian food. The traditional items from the North East or the western part of the country have barely found its way to menu cards here. So, we thought it’s time to serve tradition with a twist,” Istwal explained.
The chefs left their high-profile jobs in Bangalore and Delhi and moved to Houston in Texas in 2016 after a friend gave them references of an NRI couple who was willing to collaborate with Indian chefs for their new restaurant.
“We got in touch with Shammi Malik and his wife, who were planning to start a high-end restaurant, ‘The Spice Route Company’, later this year. Together, we felt the need to visit the kitchens of India for recipes,” Istwal said.
Soon after, in April Last year, Mayank and Shivek embarked on a 100-day journey, covering the length and breadth of the country, to gather tips and secrets from the sculleries and kitchenettes.
“We tried to cover as many states as possible and collect recipes from the homemakers as we believe they are the best cooks in the world. Their recipes are best kept secrets of a family,” Mayank said
The items that immediately caught their fancies include ‘Garlic locho’ from the kitchens of Gujarat, ‘jadoh’ from Meghalaya and the Wazwan food of the Kashmiris, the IHM-Guwahati alumni said.
By combining the traditional style of preparation with contemporary techniques, the dishes will be given an all new avatar, keeping the essence and the authenticity of the flavours intact, he said.
The Spice Route Company, scheduled to open in the second half of this year, will serve an 18- to 20- course meal, covering one dish each from most of the states of India, Suri asserted.
The menu will keep evolving, depending on the seasonal availability of items and the restaurant intends to collaborate with local farmers to source ingredients and spices from India.
The non-veg pickles of Nagaland, the delicacy of Manipur’s snail dishes and duck meat with Assamese spices are some of the lip-smacking items that will put the taste buds on fire, Mayank said. The home cooked seafoods from Malvan in Maharashtra and Goa, the corn dishes from Rajasthan, the fish curries and crab dishes from the far South are also to die for, he said.
“The whole idea is to give our guest an exclusive experience in dining. So basically we will not be selling food we would be selling experience and emotions,” Mayank added.
Source: Hindustan Times