Pioneering chef Ananda Solomon brings his favourite Thai cuisine to Mumbai

Thai cuisine once more

Chef Ananda Solomon is back to where he belongs — his kitchen in Mumbai. A man who gave Mumbai, its earliest tastes of real Thai food at Thai Pavilion in 1993, at President, Mumbai – IHCL SeleQtions, he is now set to take the city on another journey of Thai flavours, this time at his new restaurant Thai Naam by Ananda, a 96-seater, with four distinct dining areas, at The Orb, in Sahar, Andheri East.

Thai food is comfort food for him, “a way of life”. His sojourn with the cuisine began way back in the 1990s when he went to Thailand to learn at hotels and street food stalls.

Pioneering chef Ananda Solomon brings his favourite Thai cuisine to Mumbai

Says the chef, “I love Thailand, the people, their culture and food. I have been exploring it for a very long time, but my last two years after I left Taj President, were when I saw the cuisine in a new light. I visited villages along the length and breadth of Thailand and delved deeper into the nuances of the cuisine. Different places do Thai cuisine differently today, and a lot has changed since my earlier trips. I sought answers to several ‘why’s. I interacted with chefs across age groups and saw how they all work to make sure the legacy of Thai food remains unchanged and is carried forward.”

Fresh ingredients make all the difference and Chef Ananda makes sure he gets the best selection straight from Thailand. “Luckily, I am next to the airport too, so that helps,” he says light-heartedly. On a serious note, he adds, “This cuisine is a lot about herbs and that is what makes it challenging. The food should be an experience for the diner’s nose and tongue, from the beginning till the end of the meal. I want this cuisine to grow on people.”

Much like a home, Thai Naam promises you an authentic Thai experience. A rust-red brick wall adorns the entrance, similar to the flooring in ancient Thai homes. “Art elements from northern, central and southern Thailand are reflected at Thai Naam, be it in our culinary offerings or the décor and design,” says Ananda.

The menu is intentionally limited, but abundant in vegetarian options. “I don’t want people to get confused,” he states simply. From marinated chicken morsels wrapped in pandanus leaves and fried, to a spicy mince chicken salad and steamed John Dory with lemon garlic sauce, to long green eggplant with tomato, pickled garlic, edamame and chilli, all dishes reflect his ‘less is more’ philosophy. He does not believe in doing “too much with the ingredients”.

The dishes are served in a sequence, with progression of flavours in mind. “Nothing is served without a reason, merely to fill your stomach. You must savour each morsel and taste the ingredients,” he avers.

Chefs of Ananda’s stature often stop actual cooking, but he cooks every day, and says the learning never stops for him. It is the same mantra he teaches his young team, whom he has hand-picked from Kerala for their skills.

For a man who has helmed successful restaurants, he displays the same excitement and nervousness a newcomer would, anxiously awaiting your reaction, as you taste his food. No smugness and overconfidence for this soft-spoken chef. That is what makes him Ananda Solomon.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 11:56:00 PM |

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