Renowned Indian Chef Rahul Wali who has always been vocal on the ‘Slow Food Movement’ feels Indian Chefs are too concerned about the decorative aspect during the food preparation while the nutritious value of food takes the backstage.
With COVID-19 affecting livelihood for a long period in all the sectors, the need for efficiency is always in the want. Since people are more concentrating on food and cooking during this lockdown period, experimenting with the various recipes, Chef Rahul Wali had launched a series that concentrates only on regional and indigenous ingredients. Being a member of many chefs association in India and abroad he regularly expresses and voices his opinions about food, he is a staunch supporter of the ‘Slow Food Movement’.
For his first series, he gathered information about the regional food ingredients, approached regional professional chefs, created interest in them about the local and regional produce, and started his first series in the first week of June 2020. He started with Uttarakhand and ended the series on June 30, 2020, with Mizoram. The session will have a brief history of the region, dish and the picture of the food is shared with respect to each region. Thirty different regional chefs worked in this series. He was unable to cover certain regions like Andaman and Nicobar, Lakshadweep as he couldn’t communicate with the regional chefs there.
The following series concentrated on Indigenous ingredients. This series was a small and limited one for 7 days. Rahul connected with the young chefs with 3-4 years of experience and encouraged them to use the indigenous ingredients. Chef Disha Jain, Chhattisgarh spoke about Black rice and it’s benefits. Chef Arpit Kate, Princess Cruises spoke about Sandalwood and it’s Ayurveda benefits. The main aim of both the series was to encourage people to use local produce and thereby to help the farmers.
Speaking on the key challenges he faced while collecting the same, Rahul says, “ It is sometimes difficult as in many region chefs had no clue on a lot of recipes were not there. As there was lesser documentation for many Indian cuisines, this is the high time the Indian chef community should start unearthing the authenticity in their region.” As a learner, Rahul feels he had gained various lessons on various regional foods.
Focus on nutritional aspect than decoration:
In these sessions, Rahul also discovered, many Indian chefs are focussing on decorating the food putting the nutrition aspect behind. “Decorating and presentation are important. However, the nutritious value should be the top priority of a chef. Unfortunately, most of us are running behind the look of the food. My opinion is also that too many elements on the plate might also not be a good idea. Rahul also expresses concerns over the image of foreigners on Indian cuisines. “, he says. According to Rahul most of the foreigners do not have the actual knowledge about Indian food. Indian food is portrayed either as spicy or rich. He also says, they lack the knowledge on the basics in Indian cooking. Rahul says that non-Indians should understand some of the finest aspects like how Ayurveda in Indian foods.
Role of Indian Chefs and educational institutions:
Rahul feels that Indian millets should be promoted as most of the Indian cuisines revolve around rice and flour. The Indian chefs should start working from home- speak to their own grandparents or parents and start creating new menus. “I also feel that educational institutions should start bringing traditional Indian cuisines as a subject so that the next generations will never forget the ancient cuisines.”, he concluded saying that he is planning to launch his next series of webinars for the educational institutions.