Awarded as the Best Lady Chef by Ministry of Tourism in India for my Outstanding Achievement and Contribution to the Promotion of Tourism in the Country, Chef Veena Arora born in small town named Phathalung in Thailand. Marriage brought her to India in 1980 and it was then when she introduced her family to the some authentic Thai flavours. 

During growing up years food always constituted as an integral part of life and she knew her calling. After few stints with different brands, she Consultant Chef at The Imperial and ever since then, has been attached to the Spice Route Kitchen at The Imperial New Delhi as their Chef De Cuisine creating globally renowned menus for every season and occasion, throughout the year. It’s has been a glorious two decades journey for her with the brand. 

In Chit-chat with Slurrp she talks about flavours food and what she misses about Thailand. 

What your take on the popularity of Thai cuisine in India?

The cuisine has evolved manifolds over the years. In the beginning, almost 2 decades back it was not a very satiating experience as Thai food was not a popular palate and guests were not quite aware of or fond of authentic Thai cuisine. But with the changing travel scenario, the liking for Thai cuisine has been tremendous, at a global level. Understanding of flavours and spices has seen a sea change and a progressive growth.

We at The Spice Route get a mixed profile of guests including domestic and international, who are not only ready to try traditional offerings but are also keen to experiment with innovative creations. All this gives me the motivation to change my menus from time to time and come up with unique creations whilst maintaining original flavours. So apart from Thai, our guests ask for Vietnamese and Srilankan signature recipes also quite often and they do make their preferences too.

Do you see a connect between Indian and Thai food

The Thai ingredients and herbs cannot be compared to Indian flavours due to their distinguished texture and taste. They are comforting in their own way and are consumed differently than Indian cuisine. For instance, Thai usually prefer a single bowl meal made with soup (prepared with herbs, veggies/meat) and jasmine rice while Indian recipes feature curries with elaborate accompaniments.

But both Indian and Thai herbs like mint and coriander along with coconut milk are used in abundance in both the cuisines. Also both the cuisines have their own set of comfort or I can say are soul food.

What do you miss the most about Thailand

Thai street food and my friends and relatives, I have grown up with. They will always be special for me. 

An Indian dish that you have given a Thai makeover or vise-versa

At home I enjoy making Dal with Tom Yum paste and it is simply loved by everyone in my family. Dal with Nam Pla ( Fish sauce)is another great combination

What that one ingredients that one always find in your home kitchen

Nam Pla off course. I can’t do without it even when I am making Indian cuisine at home.