Chef Avinash Plates Magic With His Modern Indian Creations
Image Credit: Bihari in Berlin version of Avinash

It’s not always that you get a chance to taste creations by one of India’s best chefs, Avinash Martin, someone who is known for weaving characters and creating a much more narrative table. Avinash, born and raised in Goa, who comes from a family of seafarers, decided to learn how to cook so that he could tell the world about the richness of traditional Goan kitchens.

"I watched my mom and grandmother save the dinner curry and serve it as a dip with bread for breakfast, which was a stellar example of constructive fusion and zero waste in cooking," he says. Today, as a well-known face when we talk of regional foods with a dash of creativity, his dishes are known to contain tales of his endearment as well as information on the provenance of the ingredients. The chef's award-winning Cavatina Cuchina restaurant, located in Benaulim, Goa, too, has garnered much attention.

Recently, Avinash was hosting a pop-up around modern Indian food in Trident, Gurugram, and the menu that was curated saw a very contemporary take on traditional Indian favourites from litti to bisi bele bath to bal mithai. The menu was a perfect reflection of India on a plate, as it featured a combination of cuisines from throughout the nation while being authentically Indian. The menu was divided into two sections: vegetarian and non-vegetarian 4-courses and vegetarian and non-vegetarian 6-courses.

The menu opened with an oddly named amuse bouche called "Bawa and his tea," which was inspired by his exposure to the Parsi community during his stay in Mumbai and in memory of his Parsi friend, as they had the custom of drinking chai with bun-malai. And if you are a science lover, this dish would really catch your attention, as the chai (which was actually a soup with flavours of pineapple and tomato) was served in a distiller, straight from a lab, along with a bao that had been filled with fresh malai.

Most of you must have eaten bisi bele bath, but imagine that as a cracker on top of some Saoji mutton, while your neer dosa takes the shape of a crispy cone that was dipped into a bowl of crab xec xec and ghee roast, tom alley butter, and masago. The Hyderabad blues saw carefully plated chicken haleem and liver pate mille feuille with port wine gel, while the vegetarians could relish pumpkin spaghetti.

Each plate was magically crafted, and trust me, everything had that surprise element to it. Have you ever eaten a litti with Champaran duck stuffed inside? The litti was topped with a dash of chokha and drizzled with ghee.

From the entrees section, the Shahi shrooms (mushroom, galouti, truffled wazwan croquette stuffed gucchi with Kashmiri chilli miso and pine nuts) and Mangalorean kaleidoscope, which saw chicken ala kiev, surely topped the list. And for sweet endings, it was bal mithai, but don't expect the usual as this was from Uttarakhand; the mild flavours of a camphor-laced rabri hid the bal mithai. Not to deny that Avinash surely is all about magic on a plate, an experience worth the memory