Food

Thomas Zacharias lists the dishes that surprised him during his Chef On The Road trips in 2019

Dan Barber and Thomas Zacharias

Dan Barber and Thomas Zacharias  

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Unusual foods that Thomas Zacharias had in 2019

His Instagram feed is usually filled with posts of him travelling either through the country or abroad. His trips are typically centred around food; after all, they are the Chef On The Road trips that Thomas Zacharias, executive chef and partner at The Bombay Canteen, undertakes several times a year. These trips go on to inspire his innovative menus at the restaurant that has gone on to be voted as one of the best in the country.

Here, he shares the five best foods he got to try this past year during his travels.

Chicken sashimi

Chicken Sashimi at Kuchibashi Modern in Kyoto

Chicken Sashimi at Kuchibashi Modern in Kyoto  

I’d gone to Japan early this year, and one of the dishes that completely blew me away was a chicken sashimi I had at a yakitori place in Kyoto called Kuchibashi Modern. They have a special breed of poultry that is bred for sashimi; the bird is processed just before it is served to ensure freshness. It is typically eaten with wasabi and soy; and honestly, the dish made me rethink a lot of things about textures and flavours. Until then, I had never thought that chicken sashimi would be so enjoyable or that I would be wowed by it. But it was one of those dishes that I wanted to order again.

Mushroom ceviche

Mushroom Ceviche at O Pedro

Mushroom Ceviche at O Pedro  

This one was closer home; a delightful mushroom ceviche created by Chef Hussain Shahzad at O Pedro in Mumbai. It was a simple enough dish with some pickled oyster mushrooms, lima beans and a crisp tempura. However, the depth of flavour the dish boasted was something else. I simply loved it.

Wild thali

Wild Thali at Akole

Wild Thali at Akole  

Before the monsoon season, I had gone with the guys from the OOO Farms to Akole in the Sahyadri hills. Here, I met tribals and got to sample their cooking. They use vegetables that are either foraged or locally found, like pendra, gharbandi, chai vel and mahua fruit. Their cooking technique itself was quite simple but flavourful. All they would use was some green chillies, onions and garlic. I realised just how little we know of local produce; it was a turning point for me and also paved the way for the evolving food at The Bombay Canteen. It was following this trip that we hosted Taste of the Wild, a two-month-long exploration of vegetables found in Maharashtra.

Chhatu patra poda

Chhatu patra poda

Chhatu patra poda  

During my trip to Odisha, I happened to dine at the home of Alka Jena, where I had the chhatu patra poda. It is basically straw mushrooms, mustard, green chillies and onions that are wrapped in sal leaves and charred. I loved the technique and the way the different flavours came together. It opened my eyes to how different Odiya food is.

Beet steak

In November this year, I visited the Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Helmed by Dan Barber, it is a modern farm-to-table restaurant. I have followed Dan’s work closely and to be able to talk to him was undoubtedly the highlight of my year. Towards the end of my week there, the team treated me to a 30-course meal that lasted four-and-a-half hours! It was here that I tried the beet steak; it was one of the last savoury courses. The beet was charred and sliced to look like steak; it was then served with some beet greens, beet purée and four slices of beef. The coolest part: the sauce basically looked like a candle and we’d assumed it was part of the table décor. The wax, however, was made of beef fat, which was then poured into a gravy boat. The meal was a re-look at how to achieve a balance on our plates, which are usually meat heavy with some starch and vegetables. Here, the vegetable was the star and the meat a mere accompaniment.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 5:38:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/unusual-foods-that-thomas-zacharias-had-in-2019/article30402076.ece

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