Chef Jihad El Chami tastefully takes his patrons on a cultural and culinary tour to Lebanon at the Lebanese speciality restaurant, Mabruk at Hotel Sahara Star, Mumbai. Originally from Lebanon, Chef Jihad Chami calls India his home; serving with Sahara since 2007.
Under Chef Jspecialityihad’s leadership, Mabruk has won as many as eight awards for ‘Best Lebanese Restaurant’ by Times Food Guide and 2 Golden Star Awards for the same category. Chef Jihad is not just passionate about creating a repertoire of Lebanese dishes, but also want to open a window into the traditions and taste of the cuisine.
In an interview with Restaurant India, Chef De Cuisine Jihad El-Chami, Mabruk in Hotel Sahara Star, Mumbai speaks about the familiarities between the Lebanese and Indian food cultures.
Cooking, a Universal Language
One of the best things about cooking is that it’s a universal language that takes different forms in different locations. During my culinary journey so far, I found the following things interesting:
- The similarity of ingredients and cooking method across the country
- Social impact on the seasonal cuisine
- The vast cuisine worldwide
Menu planning for a Lebanese speciality restaurant
When we were doing the research, we found that Lebanese food is very popular, the reason behind is the ingredients which we use in Lebanese cuisines; they are very similar to the cuisines here and go very well with Indian palate.
Familiarities in the Indian and Lebanese food culture
The cooking method is very similar, like dum cooking, stew, use of charcoal, bread and rice preparation are very similar. Kebabs are famous in both cultures. Also, there are a lot of ingredients that are common in the cuisines like cumin powder, mint, rice and coriander and nuts.
Catering to Indian Palate
In Lebanese cuisines we do have salads like Greek, which is very much Indian palate, also tagine and rice preparation are very similar to the Indian palate.
Strategy to Get Repeat Customers at Mabruk Restaurant
I always go to the table and understand the guests’ requirements by explaining the Lebanese food, taking feedback and rectifying as per guests’ palate.
New Ingredient Added to the Menu
The new ingredients that we have introduced are avocado and red quinoa. This is mostly because of the health factor and how people have become more health conscious.
Menu-planning of a fine-dining restaurant
In menu planning, we do menu engineering, detailing of guest feedback, ingredients availability and utilizing of local ingredient.
In vegetarian, my favourite dish is Tagine Khodar and in non-vegetarian Laham Mouzet.