Chef Rajiv Sinha From On Regional Cuisines And More

Weekends are mostly about lazy mornings, family outings, and sumptuous-looking brunch tables with mouth-watering dishes to devour, one after another. Imagine waking up late, going out with family to a luxurious brunch buffet, and spending the day just soaking up the sun over endless chatter, bottomles cocktails, and delectable food. Sounds divine, doesn’t it?

Delhi has a lot to offer when it comes to brunch places. Café Pluck at Pullman, for instance, is a casual restaurant with a contemporary vibe, serving some of the best of European, Italian, and Indian fare. But it id their weekend brunch that has been making some quite some noise on the block, and we know why

The Farmer’s Basket at Pluck has got the fancy of many foodies in town. In an innovative concept of ‘You choose, we cook’ behind the brunch, guests can select a wide range of fresh and organic raw materials and ingredients for dishes on their own, select the cooking and cuisine style as well, from Indian, Asian or Continental, and the chef’s team will cook the dishes keeping in mind the taste, spices, preparation, etc., preferred by you. Our pick was a whole fish of Indian Salmon, grilled with a tangy sauce and served with crispy veggies. And that was quite a meal. 

But that’s not all that you can get your hands on at the do. One can relish a spectacular buffet packed with the three major cuisines, besides a lavish display of pickles, spices, artisanal pastas, marinades, cheese, and charcuterie. The unique part about the buffet was the selection of regional cuisines such as that of Andhra and Goa, which is a rare sight at buffets of many other restaurants in the city. What was amiss? A selection of drinks. While you can choose a whole lot of alcoholic beverages, the selection of non-alcoholic drinks could be more extensive. After all, why shouldn’t teetotalers have all the fun?

So, after a hearty brunch, we sat down with their Chief Culinary Designer, Chef Rajiv Sinha, to understand the idea behind the concept, his personal journey and some kitchen secrets. Excerpts from the conversation:

Q. When did your culinary journey begin and what was your inspiration? 

A. During childhood, whenever I went into the kitchen and saw my mother cooking, it inspired me. As a Bengali, food is an integral part of our culture and festivities. So, when you see 15-20 dishes on the table on Durga Puja, you are bound to be inspired by your mom’s cooking.  

Q. What’s the most difficult cuisine to cook, according to you? 

A. I’m a firm believer of good ingredients, and cooking from the heart. If you don’t show your love and care towards food, no matter how expensive the ingredients are, how fancy the equipment is, good food won’t come out. So, you need to simply give your heart and soul to any dish, and you won’t find anything difficult. 

Q. Tell us something about the farmer’s table. What was the idea behind curating its menu? 

A. Farmers basket was started with the concept of ‘you choose, we cook’ to give our customers a unique experience, a freedom to try everything under the sun. Generally, you find something south Indian at an eatery, or any particular cuisine at another, but we thought to give an opportunity to our guests to choose anything they feel like eating at the moment.  

Q. Your favourite part of the menu 

A. The fresh produce table is my favourite, as it gives importance to local produce. 

Q. What’s your comfort food of all times? 

A. Trust me, I go back home, and whatever the simple food to satisfy your food, that’s enough for me. I love to go back to my mom’s food, be it a simple dal chawal. 

Q. What is that one staple ingredient in your own kitchen? 

A. A little contradictory, but being a Bong, I would say mustard oil. Everyone complains of the smell it induces, but if you ask me that’s the healthiest you can get.  

Q. What’s your favourite cuisine and why? 

A. That’s a tough one. But I’ve travelled a lot, and I find the coastal food of India- starting from Konkan, Malvani, Kerala, it is a beautiful mix of ingredients. Even though I’ve cooked Italian, French, Mediterranean, and more, the love, respect and care coastal food of India has is exemplary. Your fish curries with a hint of coconut are beautiful, and healthy. I’ve never received any adverse feedback for south Indian cuisine.   

Q. What’s that one Indian dish that you think deserves more recognition at the global level?  

A. I’ve been to Rajasthan and worked there for five years. I find the ghevar and kachoris are extremely popular there. I think it deserves more popularity. The art of making ghevar, especially the batter for which you require a lot of effort, patience and technique to make honeycomb. I’ve tried it so many times but every time something or the other would go off. So yes, ghevar I think should receive more love on the global stage.