‘The idea is to have fun with chefs’

Love for food: Chefs Boo Kim and Pablo Naranjo Agular

Love for food: Chefs Boo Kim and Pablo Naranjo Agular  

Once a month Boo Kim invites another chef take reigns of the menu and kitchen at Dirty Buns while he mixes up some mean cocktails

Chef Boo Kim and Pablo Naranjo Agular are standing outside Dirty Buns in Kamala Mills, Lower Parel and sharing a laugh. Both are flaunting similar shirts – Kim has beach chappals printed all over, and Agular’s is printed with bare feet. “We’re twinning,” says Kim, as we step inside. A neon pink sign, ‘Let’s get dirty’, stands out, along with the shiny disco ball and the line of yellow bulbs going all the way on the ceiling that dips into a wall installed with mini television screens. The vibe is chill, and we’re “in for some fun,” Agular quips. He is sporting a new hairdo, his earlier messy look has been mowed cleaned.

Creative collaborations

For that particular Thursday, Agular took over Boo’s kitchen to created 10 dishes inspired by his Colombian-Hungarian roots. This is part of Kim’s ‘Boo’s Crew’, a pop-up night once a month on a Thursday where he invites a chef to take over his kitchen. The collaborations began with Vicky Ratnani dishing out a lamb shank, sumac prawns and kerala beef in the breads the first month to more recently with Seefah putting her Thai prowess to use.

The idea stemmed from Boo Kim’s time in Chicago, where chefs would take over bars and kitchens of peer chefs, and have a night out for the industry folks. “The idea is to have fun with chefs and turn it into a chill night. As chefs we are either stuck behind the bar or kitchens and no one has the time to step out and take some time off in the week. This becomes a ritual of sorts,” says Kim. At Dirty Buns, most dishes have something inside a bun, bao or roll. “This is a great experience for the kitchen staff, as they get to learn a new cuisine, work with a new chef and cook a change from the regular menu. We bounce off ideas together, and then chef works with team. We work on the cocktails together.”

Episode three

From Agular’s menu, a dish inspired by his grandmother stands out. Dolly’s Muchacho Bao, which comes with an eight-hour slow cooked braised buff. “Coffee, coriander and jaggery – these are three flavours that remind me of my grandmother’s kitchen. She used to make this braised buff dish, and I am only attempting to recreate it. I asked her too late in her life for the recipe. She was too sick by then and had forgotten the recipe. The addition of coffee in the dish is my nostalgia. Her meat would have this shiny coat from the jaggery caramel. I finish it off on the grill to give it crunchiness,” say Agular. For the vegetarians Agular, has steered clear from mushroom, paneer and potato. Instead, he plays with the winter carrots which are going out of season. Citrus being his favourite flavouring, he uses orange for tanginess.

Food buddies

Boo and Agular met four years ago, when they moved to Mumbai three months apart. “We hang out a lot, this makes it easy to work together. For the cocktails, we just went with the flow,” the duo laughs, as we raise an eyebrow at Breakfast, a cocktail made using Breakfast Cereal stout, ice cream, strawberry jam and peanut butter. Turns out, when we try it in the night, it is what Boo promised: Adult milkshake.

Our favourite drink is Black Out, inspired by their days of partying and discovering bars in Mumbai. A shot of Jim Beam, smoked cinnamon and orange liquer, it is a balanced recipe that keeps us warm all night.

The favourite dish of the evening, coincides with Boo’s – the prawn ceviche. It is acidic, spicy with sriracha and sweet finish thanks to the pickled onions. “This dish reminds me of my childhood. One of my uncles was a Mexican and this dish reminds me of his cooking,” says Boo.

Dessert gets a touch of bitter with citrus, vanilla, peppercorn and mint. “I’m using grapefruit to add a hit of bitter. It is a risk because Indians like their desserts sweet, but I am most excited about this one,” says Agular. We slide a spoon into the sponge cake, which has been topped with a vanilla cream foam. The dense cake marries the light cream, and the grapefruit leaves a bitter aftertaste. It is not so bitter, we tell him. “You should have tried the original version,” he laughs. The second layer is a decadent chocolate fudge, accompanied by a hot chocolate sauce, with a tequila jelly that cuts right through the sweetness.

Kitchen confidential

From the earlier-pop ups, Kim has plans to incorporate a version of Seefah’s crispy pork bun. “It is not the same dish, but I will pay homage to the dish she created. “The dishes that we made at our collaboration were Thai Spicy Chicken Bao, Lamb Massaman Bao, Okonomiyaki, Cripy Pork Belly with chilli and garlic, Prawn Kushi Katsu with Japanese Curry Mayo. Collaborating with other chefs or restaurants is always fun for us. It is important because such events are always a great learning experience meeting new chefs and playing with new ingredients,” he tells us. When we prod him about which chef will helm the new pop-up, Kim refuses to let us in on the name. But he promises it will be a delicious wait.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 2:29:06 AM |

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