What are the culinary trends you see today?
There are a variety of culinary trends in the market today, some of which are extremely exciting and interesting. In today’s digitally aware and obsessed world – where access to information is common – I see the rise of smart choices where consumers are moving towards healthy yet tasty food, especially in the metropolitan cities.
For example, Kombucha, which has quickly become a very popular drink and comes in different Asian flavours, is today opted by many over a 90s popular cold coffee or malai lassi. A citrusy quinoa salad for lunch is favoured over a burger. That said, junk food and the taste or craving for pizza, burgers, pasta, fried chicken loaded with mayonnaise will never go out of fashion amongst the youth. You will still see junk food being liked by this segment.
Asian cuisine has a lot of health benefits and is full of Umami flavours, which is what is gaining popularity in the last few years. That’s why you see so many sushi restaurants in New York and around the world. It has globally acquired popularity and will continue to grow.
What are some of the most revered dishes at Spice Traders and why?
Everyone in India knows “Chinese” food as Chilly Chicken. We wanted to put something similar on the menu that resonates with the Indian palate while maintaining the authenticity of the cuisine. Hence, we came up with Chonquing chicken – wok tossed with chilli oil, coriander root and ginger. It has always been liked by all our guests who keep coming back for more. And Chahan Rice, a Japanesetepan rice, cooked on a hot tepan, table flavored with Garlic & butter and can be topped with crispy duck or crispy spinach. It’s a dish on its own that is best savoured without any other sauces or condiments!
Where do you get your culinary inspiration from? How does it influence your work?
I have a strong curiosity for the flavours of the world. Travelling to different places, trying out different restaurants and, most importantly, eating on the streets is what inspires me most. Street food gives you a first-hand glimpse of the local flavours and ingredients available for you to experiment with.
Here’s illustrating how local ingredients can be used to create inspired dishes:
- A local preparation of chicken cafreal could be a cafreal roast chicken with potato kappa
- Rawa fried fish, inspired by English style as Fish and chips with peri peri sauce
- A whisky sour made with kokum
How did you decide dishes for your specially curated “Aphrodisiac, the Dinner for Two” part of the menu? How has the feedback been?
Curating the Aphrodisiac menu was an exciting opportunity for us to show our guests how most of the ingredients used in Asian cuisine are stimulating to all our senses. However, we had to be mindful that most of the Aphrodisiac food items are very bland, neutral or sweet in taste. Hence we decided on dishes that were aphrodisiac, but also loaded with Umami flavours like XO sauce, chilli lime or tobigo.
Some dishes on the menu, such as Crispy Lobster roll with unagi sauce, Chocolate Avocado mousse with almond milk foam and freeze dried strawberry are examples of how the aphrodisiac ingredients are creatively combined to amp up the taste factor. Our guests love to try new dishes and specially curated menus, so it was no surprise that a menu bursting with flavours that elevate all senses was an exciting proposition for all.
How often does the menu of Spice Traders get revamped or redesigned?
Twice a year, but we like to keep track of what guests like, their feedback and also what they’re looking for on a regular basis. At W Goa, it’s all about going the extra mile to give our guests a one-of-a-kind experience.
Tell me about the 7 course meal prepared for the consumers experiencing “Dining under the stars”? How often you get the request for it and how has the feedback for the same been?
The courses are very progressive, and each of the 7 courses is a teaser. Starting with an Amuse Bouche, which is avocado on sweet potato, the dinner leads into Crispy Fried Enoki Mushroom to Salmon with Chilli Lime. It has been designed to give you a different texture and a different taste with each course. At the same time, it progresses from mild to more robust flavours. The whole concept revolves around not just the food, but the entire experience of dining at a prime spot – it is a surreal experience nestled far into the escape with views of the sea and stars. The 7-course meal prepared by your personal chef will stimulate even the most discerning of palates, creating a frenzy between the lovers, which is only further accentuated by the eclectic cocktails curated by your personal mixologist. The experience is only upon request and has been extremely well received, mostly by couples celebrating a honeymoon or proposal dinner since the entire feel is like oh-so-romantic.