Chef Sanjay Thumma is elated that the best cooking talent of Telangana has been sorted. A total of 13 participants from Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Warangal, Khammam, Karimnagar and Nizamabad participated in the finals of The Hindu ‘Our State, Our Taste’ cookery contest (Telangana round). The task set for the finalists was to make one dish each for starter, main course and dessert, all within 90 minutes.
To select the finalists, the chef met the contestants at cookery contests held in various districts of Telangana. Having tasted and judged their food, he says that being on the jury gave him an opportunity to learn more about regional cuisine, ingredients and the art of simple, yet tasty dishes.
On the personal front, chef Thumma is currently busy working on his farm-to-table concept; for which he has been living on his farm and partaking what is available there. He says, “Every day there’s a new vegetable and a new learning experience. Being away from supermarkets, I manage with whatever my farm provides me. . In that process, I am also learning the ways of farm workers; their food is simple but tasty . I think cooking shouldn’t be complex and tedious; it should be equally enjoyable for the person who cooks and for those who eat.”
Sanjay said he is delighted to be a part of The Hindu’s cookery contest that focused on regional food. “The most interesting thing I learnt from home chefs is the variety and innovation. Since these specials are from different households, some of them are new to me.”
The variety of kudumulu, preparation methods and their presentation surprised him. He seemed to be happy to see the use of local ingredients like medipandu and the chickpea shoots.
“Everyone uses figs but very rarely do people cook with raw medipandu. Medipandu is slightly different from a fig. These ingredients were very much a part of our food chain. As GMO vegetables and grains flooded the markets, consumers stopped appreciating local ingredients and cuisine,” he points out.
As the finalists competed with each other in dishing out their best kept home secrets, Chef Sanjay walked to everyone’s cooking station enquiring about the choice of ingredients and the process ahead. He was surprised by the local innovations like bhakshyalu made with sweet potato and the regional spicy twist to ingredients like pasta and the prawn sarva pindi.
Chef Thumma now wants to educate viewers about local foods, ingredients and simple cooking. He adds, ”This is my mission for now and it gelled well with ‘Our State Our Taste Cookery Contest’ by The Hindu.”