Chef Manish Sangwan Says His Favourite Spice Is ‘Asafoetida’
Image Credit: Chef Manish Sangwan / Pic-Taj Hotel & convention centre ,Agra

Chef Manish Sangwan, who has his proficiencies in numerous cooking techniques and cuisines, and has been part of the industry for more than 8years is currently he is designated Sous chef in Taj Hotel & convention centre, Agra-the largest private residence in the north India converted into the epitome of luxurious hospitality and largest wedding destination, is an unwavering commitment to excellence. Highly motivated, positive and goal-oriented, with a high degree of flexibility, resourcefulness, and commitment to work, Chef Manish has always been keen in working with new ingredients. 

Having worked with some of the reputed brands in the country Manish has constantly been looking at ways of learning and developing his skills in various cuisines. He has a good command in Indian cuisine , cold kitchen, grills, European cuisines. With the hotel he has He has introduced different styles of gastronomy food presentation and has proven leadership skills with a track record of training, developing and fostering strong teams focused on quality, presentation, cost containment, and safety.

What tricks and brainstorming goes when it comes to designing a new flavor or a menu?

The menu is designed to keeping in mind that time of the Mughal era of 17th century. The cuisine has its own identification during Mughal time. Mughlai Cuisine is renowned from richness and aromaticity of the meal due to extensive use of saffron, cardamom, black pepper, dry fruits and nuts as well as rich cream, milk and butter in preparation of curry dishes. This has influenced the development of North Indian Cuisine. 

So, while keeping the flavors of Indian spices which were used during Mughal era times and from that spice dishes prepared with redolent & luscious.  Keeping in mind while designing a menu and give them a feeling of royal dining.

What’s that one Secret kitchen ingredient that can absolutely turn a dish around?

Turmeric is the secret ingredient of any kitchen that gives an iconic, curry, color, flavor and aroma. Although the excess use of this ingredient make food slightly bitter and chalky after taste. That also has its own antiseptic use in old times. This particular ingredient called as “Turmeric” Turmeric is a bright yellow spice powder that belongs to the ginger family. Since thousands of years, turmeric has been used in Asia as a dye, food colouring agent, and also in Indian traditional medicines. The appearance of turmeric is similar to ginger and galangal as it is also a kind of root except for it’s an orange hue. Turmeric is also known as Indian saffron & it also called as “Haldi” in Hindi. Storage of turmeric should be in sealed air-tight containers away from sunlight. If not stored properly, turmeric can lose its aroma quickly.

What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?

The “Asafoetida” is one of the most favorite ingredients which have its own pungent smell and it deliver a smooth flavor reminiscent of leeks or the other onion relative. Asafoetida also known as colloquially or devil’s dung.                    

This spice is used as a digestive aid, in food as a condiment, and in pickling. Asafoetida is used in vegetarian Indian cuisine where it enhances the flavour of numerous dishes, where it is quickly heated in hot oil before sprinkling on the food. Kashmiri cuisine also uses it in lamb dishes such as Rogan josh. The spice is added to the food at the time of tempering. In its pure form, it is sold in the form of chunks of resin, small quantities of which are scraped off for use.

Given your experience with Indian food what are your top three favorite dishes?

The experience with Indian food is from the time of my childhood till now is like dealing with different ingredient with different region of Indian food. Somehow Indian food has its own authenticity of their particular region for instances “Butter chicken” have their own dynasty on Indian cuisine when we talk about North Indian food. If we talk about South Indian food “Dosa & Sambar”is a staple food of South India. During childhood when My Grandmother prepared pickles at home we have seen Anonymous ingredients which we never think about and these recipes were lost recipes somehow these days. So, Accordingly Indian food has vast history when we talk about and have no end.

My top three favourite dishes are:

  • Rajma Chawal
  • Butter chicken
  • Dal Makhani

As a Chef what do you feel is biggest strength?

The biggest strength of a “Chef” is the knowledge about the spices and ingredients from which we are cooking food in day to day life and should have good working skills to play those ingredients while cooking. Also the biggest strength is to showcase attention to the details and to be a multitasking and have excellent understanding of cleanliness and allergens as well as cooking techniques and culinary expertise. Also should have ability to cope under pressure, decision making ability, creativity and passionate about food and cooking.

Three kitchen spices that you can’t do without?

According to me three spices from which we cannot play a role of dish are :

    Salt: First and foremost, salt is used as a seasoning to enhance the taste of food. It makes bland food such as carbohydrates (bread, pasta, etc) palatable and it helps to bring out the natural flavours in other food .Salt is an important natural preservative and has been used for centuries to preserve meat, fish, dairy products and many other foods. Long before the invention refrigerators slating, like pickling, was used to keep food safe to eat.

    Turmeric: Turmeric adds flavour to food, which explains its presence in curry powder. However, turmeric can also play an important role in digesting that food. The spice can contribute to healthy digestion as a result of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

    Cumin:- Cumin is best used freshly ground for the most intense flavour. Cumin is used frequently whole and in spice mixes to add a characteristic smoky note to Indian dishes. It can be identified by its distinct ridged brown seeds.

What is your idea of comfort food?

Comfort foods are those foods which are easy to make with good nutrient value and having less cholesterol. Although the range of delicacies is never-ending in Indian cuisine, there are certain dishes that are very special for every Indian. These specific delicacies bring back memories from childhood, solves the stress in the lives of people and even citizens who live abroad tend to find places in other countries that can serve them these dishes are khichdi, Dal tadka, Rajma Chawal, etc.

Dhai ke kebab recipe by Chef Manish

    50gms Hung curd 

    30gms Cottage cheese                

    5gms Cardamom powder             

    8gms Ginger chop              

    5gms Chop Green chilly               

    70gms Roasted chana powder                

    10gms Sugar                

    8gms Salt               

    15gms Almond                   

    8gms Raisin                

    10gms Cashew nut                 

    Pinch of Saffron    

    10gms Pista                   

    20gms Ghee                    


    Mix Hung curd and cottage cheese and mash it with palm.

    Add all ingredients mixed altogether.

    Make patty and cooked on griddle with ghee.

    Serve hot with mint chutney