Chef Ajay Chopra has a quick chat with Abid Mohammed
Were you fussy about food, as a child?
I was very fussy about food, anything bland and tasteless was a no-no for me.
When did you decide to become a Chef?
It was my 1st year in Hotel Management and Applied Nutrition, that got me interested in food production.
What was your family’s reaction to your wanting to be a chef?
Initially they were surprised and Mummy ne chappal mari thi (Mom hit me with her slippers!).
What would you be if not a chef?
I wanted to become an architect, before I got interested in cooking.
Given a choice, which talent would you most like to possess?
The skill of being diplomatic and being able to manipulate things and make everyone happy.
Where did you train to cook?
The Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development gave me a foundation, and it has been a continuous learning process ever since.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
Progressive freestyle, a combination of modern techniques with tradition.
Do you have a signature dish or a favourite dish you enjoy cooking?
My guests appreciate many of my dishes created at different restaurants, such as dal makhni, galawat, and kakori. I really enjoy cooking pancakes for my kids, almost every Sunday.
What current trends in food excite you?
Using local ingredients, going back to basics, and technology meeting nostalgia are the trends that I am following.
Are there any ingredients that have fallen out of fashion for you?
Paneer and bad quality Tofu are passé.
Is there a food that you don’t like?
Indian food with under-cooked masala which directly hits your gut and over-cooked, saucy pasta.
Who are the other chefs you admire?
Sanjeev Kapoor, Jamie Oliver and Eric Ripert to name a few.
What should people eat in the monsoons?
Bhutta (corn) which is rich in fiber and great in taste, warm bowls of soup to nourish the soul and pakodas, of course.
What’s your favourite street food?
Aloo ki tikki.
What are your favourite food cities?
Old Delhi, Shanghai and Hong Kong would top the list.
Feelings August-SEPTEMBER 2018