CHEF it up with Pallavi Nigam Sahay!

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Considering the hectic schedule of today’s working women, Chef Pallavi wishes to introduce them to exotic yet simplified recipes which can be prepared in less time and has the wholeness of complete nutritional meals without sacrificing on taste. She plans to help today’s women in balancing taste and time.

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Why did you want to be chef?

Since childhood, I always loved cooking and I realised cooking gives me a big opportunity to be creative and innovative, as I always hated routine and mundane tasks. I always found There’s so much to learn, so many different cuisines coming from different cultures, each having its own unique blend of spices and cooking methods and that made me more and more curious about food, also I am always at my best whenever I am in my kitchen and that adds to the flavour.

Who is your inspiration?

My childhood inspiration was Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. I cooked his “mutton dum biryani” as a gift to my parents for their anniversary when I was in class 10th. He and his recipes are simply amazing. I always loved his effervescent style of cooking and presentation. Apart from Chef Kapoor, I absolutely love & adore, Chef Atul Kocchar and Chef Vicky Ratnani. They are superb.

What do you think is the most important requirement in a chef?

Being a Chef is a continuous learning process. If you want to achieve greater heights in your career you need to explore and learn different cuisines. This requires a lot of practice, patience and hard work. But the rewards are enriching.

How has the Indian food industry grown over the last few decades?

The ready availability of global ingredients through our supermarkets has opened a new world to the home cooks of the country over the past 20 to 25 years. Adding to this the easy availability of recipes and related videos online over the past decade. This has given everyone a lot of options to explore beyond their regular traditional cuisines. It’s good for new Chefs like me and at the same time very challenging as we are now competing on a global stage and not just within the country.

Is the restaurant culture different in India and abroad?

There’s a lot of stress on fusion in India, mixing Desi with Videshi. While some of them work out well others appear quite ludicrous. In my experience, fusion is not a preferred option for restaurants beyond the subcontinent. People in other parts of the world love to try out only the authentic versions of foreign cuisines.

How are Indian Chefs regarded internationally?

They are regarded with a lot of love & respect. Indian food, due to its wide variety and its famous Masalas has a lot of fanfare globally. This gives a strong launch pad for all Indian Chefs who wish to work abroad. However, beyond Indian cuisine, our Chefs have left little mark on global cuisines. But as more and more continental eateries open in the country am sure Indian Chefs will be able to leave a mark internationally as well.

What challenges have you faced in your career? Any interesting incidents you can recall?

Being a female Chef in an otherwise all male crew can be very challenging sometimes. In one of my assignments in Muscat, Oman the manager of the restaurant had little faith in me to be able to train his local chefs and prepare a multi course meal for over 100 guests. When all went well he came to me and admitted his doubts saying that he had never seen a female Chef in action and was really amazed at my handling of his crew in such a high pressure environment. The key here is to know your subject, once you know your recipes and back your skills people always follow your lead. 

Which is your favourite dish? cuisine?

I have always loved Italian Cuisine and cannot get enough of it. My favourite, almost staple diet is Spaghetti Aglio Olio. 
Back at home, I gobble my mom’s smoked lamb curry and my mom in law’s Litti Chokha from Bihari cuisine – My husband’s native place.

Would you like to change or contribute to the Indian restaurant scene?

Indian restaurants are doing a fine job globally. What we lack is probably getting more and more of our regional recipes into the mainstream restaurants. After all we have a lot to offer beyond the regular Chicken Tikkas, Dal Makhni, Lachcha Parathas and Dosas. We are yet to present to our audience dishes that are prepared in hinterland such as baingan badi, mungaudi, peetha etc.

Who would you like to cook for and why- could be any national international personality?

Oh I would love to cook for our beloved Prime Minister Mr. Modi. It would be an absolute honour to be his Chef for a day. He has done a lot of work to bring India to a position of strength and in fact made us known beyond software, curries and Bollywood. I have noticed lots of positive changes in attitude of others towards me as an Indian whenever I travel abroad over the last couple of years. All thanks to him and his fantastic leadership team. I would love to prepare some Italian and Indian delicacies for him. God willing pretty soon 🙂

Any tips you would like to give to foodies?

Eat and experiment with different cuisines but always eat right. Sometimes in our regular busy schedules we tend to eat too much junk from outside. Best is to follow some easy and quick recipes that can be prepared with minimum efforts and with delicious results. You may try some of the dishes from my latest YouTube Series- Working Women’s Kitchen with Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana channel. 

What are your next plans/dreams?

I have two key goals in life. One being to popularize more and more regional cuisines from my native place M.P and from my husband’s native place Bihar. Second, being to help and give access to Indian youth to recipes that are quick and easy to make at home with ingredients that are readily available at your corner grocery store. For a healthy lifestyle and greater longevity, we need to be very careful with what we eat. And for this we need to start pretty young. Our bodies are our greatest assets and we need to make sure whatever we eat is worthy of this asset and helps it to nourish and grow.

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About Chef Pallavi Nigam Sahay:

Chef Pallavi Nigam Sahay holds a culinary diploma from ICIF, Italy and has been trained at Grand Hyatt Mumbai. Having received her earlier education in the field of Economics, Pallavi with a happy accident decided to switch careers to become a chef.
Pallavi has shot more than 35 recipe videos with prestigious YouTube channels like Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana and leading lifestyle channel Food Food India. She has also published more than 50 articles and shot over 30 recipe videos for the Times of Oman as their Recipe Developer & Food Columnist. Chef Pallavi has also been actively involved as a consultant chef with a leading restaurant group in Muscat (Oman) and has conceptualized the establishment of a multi-cuisine fine dining restaurant which is due to open soon.

 

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