With over 15 years of experience in the field of cooking, this chef is well-known for his expertise in Indian and international cuisine. After working with big hospitality brands in the past, Chef Prabir Kumar Saha is now on a quest to explore Rajasthani cuisine. With Bengali roots and an international flair in his hands, he has now mastered this regional cuisine of India too.
Chef Prabir Kumar Saha started his culinary career very early in life. He recalls a time when he was just a toddler and would stroll in and out of the kitchen while his mother prepared lunch. It was the vibrant colours of Indian food and the tantalising aromas that drew him towards the kitchen. Little did he know that his childhood fascination would help him discover his passion.
Chef Prabir, who works as an executive chef at Chokhi Dhani Resort in Jaipur, is passionate about good food and authentic flavours. Hailing from West Bengal, he has worked with several big brands in the hospitality sector in India and abroad with about 15 years of experience, at Taj, The Lalit, Ayada Maldives, and Ramada, to name a few.
With such a diverse experience, he delves deeper into Rajasthani cuisine. In conversation with Slurrp, Chef Prabir throws light on the nuances of this regional fare's popular non-vegetarian dishes, local spices, and more. Excerpts:
Q1. Given the vast diversity of regional cuisines, what makes the Rajasthani cuisine stand out?
Historically, the Rajputs made lasting contributions to the food and eating habits of the region, especially its non-vegetarian fare. The royals' food was inextricably linked to their lavish lifestyle. Hunting being a favourite pastime of the royalty, non-vegetarian dishes were mostly cooked with shikar, or game meat. This included animals and birds such as venison, wild hare, rabbit, pheasant, quail, and duck. The royal kitchens, or rasowaras, were sites of considerable innovation by the khansamas, or royal cooks. Recipes were zealously guarded and handed down from one generation to the next. In the 20th century, Rajasthani cuisine was a very popular cuisine that was expanded to other states during food festivals. Today, Rajasthani cuisine has gained global recognition for its rich flavours and spices.
Q2. How and when did you start cooking?
Since childhood, food has been my first love. The vibrancy of colours and tempting aromas from my home kitchen fascinated me, and I wanted to know more about the ingredients and the process.
Q3. Tell us more about the spices and ingredients that are specific to Rajasthani cuisine alone.
Rajasthani food is characterised by the use of Mathaniya chillies, jowar, bajra, wheat, gram flour, pulses, and oil seeds. Its distinct aroma and flavours are achieved by the blending of tamarind, coriander, ginger, garlic, chillies, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and rose water. Some famous Rajasthani dishes include pyaaz ki kachori, dal baati churma, mirchi bada, mawa lassi from Jodhpur, Alwar ka mawa, malpuas from Pushkar, and more. Rajasthani cuisine is also known for its delectable pickles and chutneys, which make the meal exciting and also aid digestion.
• Make a smooth paste of curd, coconut, and poppy seeds.
• Once it is ground, take the mutton and fry it in oil.
• Take out the fried chicken and add ghee to the pan.
• In this, add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and garlic.
• Sauté it all together.
• This mixture is then ground into a paste.
• Fry ghee and this spice paste in a pan.
• Then add your fried mutton and combine it well.
• Pour in the smooth curd paste and combine everything.
• Add water, cover, and cook for a few minutes.
• Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.