Chef Dayashankar Sharmas Spice Trail to London

Chef Dayashankar Sharma on his culinary journey, hardships and much more
The Shatkora Jhinga
The Shatkora Jhinga

With over three decades of culinary experience under his belt, his creative cooking was recognised by the Michelin Guide in 2018, and his restaurant was also listed within the prestigious Michelin Guide 2019 and 2020

How did the idea of cooking come about for you
Becoming a chef was not really my plan. I always thought I would become a doctor. However, growing up in Rajasthan, I used to help my mother cook large meals for the whole family and experiment, before my hotel diploma. She was definitely my early inspiration. Hearing about the culinary business intrigued me and made me want to pursue it in the future.

From Bhojpura Kalan to London, how would you describe your culinary journey
It was a big change for me. Coming from a small village in Rajasthan to London, now &mdash and being awarded with all these accolades &mdash was indeed a challenging journey, but [it was also] filled with opportunities to be able to introduce Indian flavours globally. There were many hardships coming out of my small village and going to a completely foreign place with hardly any money in hand, where you know no one. The thing that got me through was the future prospects and the challenges I faced that have made me the chef I am today. Without them, maturity would have come a lot later than it did, I think.

Which cuisine inspires you the most
I might be a little biased here, but [it&rsquos] Indian cuisine. We boast of an enormous vocabulary of ingredients and spices. To play around and discover new things and methods even now is a treat to any chef in the industry.

What are your favourite dishes
My comfort food, has to be Dal Bati Churma and Jodhpuri Mirchi Vada

Do you think the pandemic has affected the way people consume what&rsquos on their plate &mdash in both India and abroad 
Pandemic definitely has made a huge impact on everyone's life. The way people are eating out and the frequency has had a huge impact. I think it has also impacted on what people are consuming to some extent. The pandemic has brought about a realisation of becoming healthy and the need to boost the immune system. Hence people are starting to eat a little healthier. But in general I would say It has made a major impact on the frequency more than just healthy consumption.

What&rsquos your take on India&rsquos regional cuisines

Regional cuisines are the biggest inspiration. Different ways of cooking, dishes inspired by religious practices and the culture of India&rsquos diverse gastronomic population only adds excitement to the diners. Even in my restaurant, the whole concept revolves around India&rsquos culture, regional cuisines, recipes and cooking techniques passed down through generations.

What hardships did you face taking Indian flavours and putting them on global plates
It required a lot of time &mdash learning to find the balance of flavours myself, the cooking techniques, introducing the diners to traditional Indian cooking and ingredients slowly, and using the right substitution (of ingredients) that does not overpower the foreigners&rsquo palate. Using &lsquoIndian&rsquo spices is the essence of Indian food. I make sure to keep the essence alive, so there is no compromise in taste, but the spiciness has changed. To make the food suitable for the delicate tongues of the UK &mdash or even globally &mdash the use of spice has to be controlled delicately.

Chef Recommendations&nbspWhat not to miss at Chef&rsquos restaurant in London 

Shatkora Jhinga
Marinated with lemongrass and preserved in house lemons, these king prawns are grilled in a clay oven. It is one of the guest favourites and has also garnered london restaurant critic Grace Dent&rsquos attention

Panner ka salan

Here, the Indian cottage cheese is marinated with yoghurt, yellow chilli and is stuffed with a tangy mango, green chilli and ginger. Cooked in a tandoor, it is served with melon-seed gravy and is garnished with pickled chillies

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