Gary Mehigan says Indian chefs can change world view of their Desi cuisine….A special report by Natalia Ningthoujam
The diversity in India’s food palate has left globally popular MasterChef Australia judge Gary Mehigan fascinated, especially since his view of the country’s cuisine was limited. The chef, who explored the tastes of India for a new TV show, says the country’s chefs can change the world view about ‘desi’ cuisine.
His passion for food is known by all and starting August 15, FOX Life’s “Far Flung with Gary Mehigan” will catch the traveller and adventurous side of the chef on his fascinating journey through the far flung markets of Asia – India, Vietnam, Laos, South Korea and Hong Kong.
A fan of Indian cuisine, the acclaimed chef, who co-owns Melbourne’s tony The Boathouse eatery, shared that the different cooking methods are a big factor in Indian food, as well as the diversity from north to south.
“I love the lightness of the flavours down south. Also, Gujarat and West Bengal would be fun. I would love to do the ride from the southern tip right up to the Himalayas, but I am going to have to get fit for that one,” the 48-year-old master chef said.
The chef, who has been to India a couple of times, says he grew up “in the UK, so grew up eating lots of Indian food, but going to India, I realised how one-dimensional the Indian food being offered in the UK was.”
“Things are changing of course, but there is an enormous opportunity for brilliant Indian chefs to change the world’s view of the cuisine. What’s always fascinated me about Indian dishes and recipes is that they are so different from my classic French training. They are often completely upside down and confusing for me, which is the thrill of course,” he added.
Where does he go to enjoy Indian cuisine when not in India?
“Mainly at home, now that I have learned to cook dosa and appams, potato bhaji and develop the flavours of my curries,” he said.
For now, he is eagerly waiting for the response to his new show.
The “Far Flung with Gary Mehigan” series begins in India, where he discovers the secret of the Mumbai tiffin boxes and tries his hand at making one. He then experiences the craziness of Delhi’s street food style.
He also heads to Jodhpur to get a taste of the Rajasthan International Folk Festival, and chats up with the Maharaja of Jodhpur about his love for Jodhpur, its people and the food.
On his next stop, the chef fulfils his dream of visiting the Royal Enfield factory in Chennai where he rides a Continental GT, apart from visiting the famous fish markets and cooking on the beach.
“I am excited. I hope they see not only different parts of India where they might live, but also other parts of Asia. There is always a sense of trepidation when you put out a new show, but we are pretty pleased with how it’s come up,” said the “ultimate food tourist”.
“I don’t go looking for monuments and cathedrals, I would rather discover restaurants, markets, and local food producers. A great way to see a city is on the bike. It makes me feel like a local and gets me to places I might not normally visit. Both are also a great conversation starter,” he added.
In that sense, he truly believes that maybe “if more world leaders cooked and ate together, the world could be a different place”.
Talking fondly of his passions, Mehigan said: “Food, family and motorcycles are the obvious ones. I love my dog; Molly. She is a gorgeous rescue dog and I love her to bits. I also enjoy teaching and inspiring people to cook. It’s just such a wonderful and personal experience, I love making people smile.”