Chef Raji, a passionate cook, started her gastronomic journey learning traditional Indian dishes and some baking at her home. To gain a certified mastery over the subject, at the age of 36, Chef Raji enrolled herself at a reputed Culinary Academy in Mumbai. There she gained CTH (Confederation of Tourism & Hospitality) Level 2 certification. Later, an urge to expand her horizons furthermore she went to Blue Elephant Cooking School in Thailand to learn the art and science of Asian cooking.
Chef Raji's Kombucha is her designated speciality drink. Made out of scoby, which is the live culture for bacteria and yeast, it transforms Kombucha from a sweet tea into a tangy, fizzy beverage. This healthy drink is increasingly creating a niche for itself in India's foodie culture. She is also well-known for making incredibly delicious cocktail food servings (tapas) like pan ke ladoo, stuffed bread vada (a five-minute recipe!), tempered spinach dumplings, tarte tatin, ceviche, different kind of tarts, cakes, cookies, desserts and a lot more!
She has created a small Greek-themed kitchen garden space of her own in her studio where she grows herbs and spices such as thyme, oregano, clementines, basil, chillies, etc. and uses these fresh ingredients in her cooking.
In an interview with Restaurant India, Chef Raji speaks about her take on cooking fusion food.
Chef Raji's Culinary Journey
My culinary journey started at 36, with an Expertise in Goan cuisine. But I was always keen to learn different cuisines, and that enticed me to take admission in different culinary schools around the world. I have been trained under Palate Culinary Academy (Mumbai), Blue Elephant Cookery School (Thailand), Ballymaloe Cookery School (Ireland) and am looking to enhance my skills even further.
Three interesting findings in the culinary journey so far
- We are all are trying to get back to our roots today - authentic food is back in trend.
- Grow yourself, cook and eat.
- There is a lot of acceptance of different cuisines and cultures.
The Key to Designing a Perfect Menu
For me honestly, designing a menu is very personal; it needs to have your personal presence, your creativity, your own curation, and your integrated favourite flavours on the table. A perfect menu is connected to the cuisine, the culture and the location.
Take on Fusion Cooking
I love to do fusion cooking, but I also love to retain the flavours. While you deconstruct the recipe, don't deconstruct the flavour; that's the trick!
Element of Uniqueness in Food Menu
Just serve real food!
Tips to Impress Guests
When I have family and friends at home, my homemade caramel custard is a must for dessert. But yes I always try to serve something new but keep one recipe from the previous party which was on the top of all.
New-age Food Trends
With the changing of dimensions, I believe a lot of sustainably grown food will be welcomed with love. The millennials are very much aware of the benefits of healthy food so the farm-to-table concept will also be growing more. I can see a brighter future for food. It would also be like cooking from the past, means a lot of authentic, age-old recipes will come to life.
Trends in the Culinary World
I make sure once in a year I enrolled myself to learn some new skill or cuisine. But if one can't enrol into one of these, it doesn't mean you can't cook. With media support through YouTube, Instagram or by reading books, I constantly upgrade my skills. You need to be updated with the news in the food industry.