Renowned Australian chef Gary Mehigan has started incorporating Indian food ingredients like curry leaves into his cooking and is excited to cook South Indian food.
Mehigan, who has just finished visiting India, his third in as many years, was impressed by the country’s food diversity and said he wanted to introduce Australians to a whole new world of South Indian flavours.
“I think Indian food is delicious and South Indian cuisine is quite new to me. I’ve tried making apps and picked up a few tips and tricks on my travels here,” Mehigan said in an interview.
Invited as part of ‘Oz Fest’ celebrations, the acclaimed chef shot the pilot sequence of his upcoming TV show in Delhi, Mumbai, Rajasthan and Chennai.
“We have a lot of people from South Asia in Australia so it’s only natural that we serve different dishes every day in our restaurants. One day it’s Thai, another it’s Indian and another it’s Malay etc,” says the chef who runs his own restaurant in Australia.
Mehigan says she has asked for and received lots of recipes for paneer masala, chaat on her Twitter feed, but her current fascination is with appams, masala dosas and malpuas.
“People at home are familiar with paneer masala and tikka but they have heard less about appam, rice pudding and good malpua. They are absolutely delicious. I have been adding more curry leaves to my salads and dishes for a different and unique taste,” says the 46-year-old British-born chef and restaurateur.
The chef, who is a household name in his reality TV show “MasterChef Australia”, says he plans to include a lot of Indian cuisine in his new book which will be out in May 2014.
When asked, the chef who actively scouts for new recipes and cooking styles says he does not subscribe to the idea of secret recipes.
“I’ve been a chef for a long time and I’m more than happy if someone takes my recipe and makes it into something better. I don’t have a ‘Gary’ tag on my recipe. I think food as a whole is constantly changing and evolving,” Mehigan said. .
The food, says the global chef, is “embracing our locality and regionalism and championing tradition.”
Mehigan credits the Internet and YouTube for helping him keep track of global trends.
“I’m not a great predictor of trends if you ask me. Even if I were, I’d keep it to myself. The internet has opened up a lot of experience. I now know what’s going on from Copenhagen to London to New York to top chefs like David Chang…. Either. Food has opened up globally,” Mehigan said.
While in Delhi, he visited the famous spice market at Chandni Chowk and picked up spices and masalas.
“I went to the spice market here, there are so many colors and varieties, so many beautiful spices, so much chilli, cardamom, everything is interesting. I must say that those with me were teary-eyed, I just loved it,” says the chef who is always on the lookout for street food.
While in India, Mehigan cooked with Dhabhavalas in Mumbai, inspected a motorcycle factory in Chennai, hosted a barbecue at the Australian High Commission in Delhi and attended a music festival in Jodhpur.