Shibendu Ray Chaudhury Swears by His Love For Shukto And Bhetki
Image Credit: Chef Shibendu Ray Chaudhury

The Kolkata boy after making his mark with brands like Taj Bengal, Grand Hyatt Goa, Fairmont Jaipur, and more, has now been appointed as the Executive Chef at Courtyard by Marriott Aravali Resort. Chef Shibendu Ray Chaudhury comes with almost 14 years of experience and is known for expertise in menu improvements, the simplification and localization of cuisines, and assistance in creating individualised dining experiences. A B. Sc in Hotel Management from IHM Kolkata, he strongly believes that his team is his biggest strength.

Chaudhury currently is in charge of leading the culinary team, directing and supervising activities that include menu innovations, simplification, and localization of cuisine.

Here's the excerpt from the interview

What made you foray into the kitchen? And what has been your worst experiments?

I was fortunate enough to have been born and brought up in a family where food used to be the focal point growing up. Heavily inspired by my maternal grandfather, I have picked up the uncanny habit of being inside the kitchen from a very tender age and was always in awe of watching my grandfather buy, cook and feed all our family and friends so passionately in a very whole hearted manner. His lifestyle along with his passion towards food and attention to fresh produce has been ingrained in me which I take to be one of the biggest values in growing up to be a successful chef.

When it comes to my cooking style and food I would say that my experiments with food will always be a great learning experience for me.  Thinking back in time, one incident that I recall was about ten years back when molecular gastronomy was the talk of the town and I burnt my hands trying to make some spheres of Indian gravies and they turned out to be disastrous. 

You have travelled well because of your profession, How do you see Indian food being perceive across the globe?

Indian food in current times has gained immense popularity outside the likes of big cities like London, New York, etc. However, in my opinion, there are still only aware of a handful of dishes outside India which includes; Butter chicken, Naan, Chicken tikka to name a few. With prominent Indian chefs coming into the limelight and entering the world food scenario we have been seeing a deeper interest of people towards different regional Indian flavours. Currently, with India being one of the world’s superpowers the food culture has also seen a big boom which is going to last.

How easy or difficult it is to understand the Indian palate and flavours? 

To understand Indian flavours and palate, it is first important to understand a few key elements which contribute to the flavours; the diverse geography of the country which leads to a bountiful of produce, the diversity in terms of various religious sects which majorly impacts the various food habits, influence of various colonies and cultures who have been in the country and contribute to the food profile from region to region. India offers a very complex and diverse culinary portfolio which is hyper-regional with tastes and flavours varying on each corner. 

What does it take to sustain the competition?

Honest clean flavours, and wholesome and meaningful food, which is relevant to market trends are the most important factors to sustain in the culinary world. In a highly competitive market, it is absolutely critical that chefs remain updated to global trends and not just stick to age-old practices. We are in an era where we see more people stepping out to try different cuisines, look for places that not just serve food but provide an experience through their culinary journey.

What is your idea of innovation when it comes to food?

Innovation is the mother of any success story for a chef or any restaurant. The moment someone stops thinking about creating something new and is content and happy with what they are doing, chances are that they will fade away sooner than expected. A chef should always strive for consistency in the products that they deliver but be hungry enough to try new avenues to take their food to new heights.  

Over the years what has been your most challenging project?

I still remember my previous stint at Renaissance Mumbai (now The Westin Powai) which I consider to be one of my most challenging projects. I joined in 2019, into Marriott’s biggest portfolio in South Asia with 780 keys between the Renaissance and Marriott Executive Apartments. My first day there was also the last day for my predecessor and I was at the helm of a gigantic ship that was in the doldrums. Within the first quarter, against all challenges, I was able to convert the kitchens of the hotel into a profitable operation.

What is your favorite ingredients to cook with?

Fishes, are very clichéd coming from a Bengali but the variety that these marine creatures offer and the kind of flavours that can be achieved is limitless. A special favorite would be Calcutta Bhetki which growing up we have seen being cooked in different forms, and preparations and is also one of the most diverse fishes to create various recipes

As a chef what do you feel is your biggest strength?

My team, my people are my biggest strength. I feel I am as good as my team; the better the bond, the better food is. Once the entire team is aligned to the vision, then some remarkable stuff comes out of their hands. Also, the more diverse the team is, the more ideas pour in to create some magic on the plate. 

What is your idea of comfort food?

My personal comfort food would be a typical lunch which I used to have at my grandparents place which is still etched in my memory. It used to be bhaat, shukto, sona moong dal, topshe bhaja, pabda mach bori diye (Steam rice, Bengali mixed veg with bitters and drumstick, Yellow moong dal, batter fried Topshe fish, Pabda fish in a light curry with lentil dumplings)with a slice of gondhoraj lemon 

A quick and comforting recipe for our readers

One of my all-time favorites and very easy to prepare is the Bengali Bhetki paturi which is a banana leaf wrapped fish in a Bengali mustard marinade. Below is the recipe for the same


  • 750g Bhetki Fish (boneless; cut into 10 pieces)
  • 2 Tbsp. Black Mustard Seed
  • 2 Tbsp. Yellow Mustard Seed
  • 6 Tbsp. Grated Coconut
  • 8-10 Green Chili
  • 4tbsp. ginger garlic paste
  • 4 Tbsp. Mustard Oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tsp. Turmeric Powder
  • 1 Tsp. Salt or to taste
  • 3 Banana Leaf (big)


    Wash bhetki fish chunks and marinate for half an hour with lemon juice, salt and ginger garlic paste for half an hour

    Soak both mustard seeds together in water for a couple of hours. Drain the water and make a thick paste of both types of mustard seeds by adding a little salt, green chilies and some water.

    In a bowl take mustard paste, grated coconut, salt, turmeric powder, and mustard oil and prepare a thick marinade

    Marinate the fish chunks with this paste and leave for 2 hrs

    Take banana leaf and cut it into 6”/6” pieces, brush little mustard oil on the glossy side of the banana leaf and lightly roast those over low flame for 30 seconds.

    Now take a piece of banana leaf and put 1 spoonful of the marinade on the middle of the leaf.

    Place a fish chunk on the top of the marinade and finally put some marinade to cover the fish from the top. Close the banana leaf from four sides to make a close parcel using toothpicks

    Following the process make a parcel of the rest of the fish chunks.

    On a hot pan add a little mustard oil, sear the parcels from both sides and then cover the pan to slow cook the fishes for 10min till they are firm to touch

    Serve with hot steamed rice