Earlier this year, celebrity chef and restaurateur Marco Pierre White visited India for the latest season of World On A Plate. He spoke about Indian food, traditional cooking methods, and more. By Sushmita Srivastav
This is your third visit to India. What do you make of the country?
For me, India has always been the most magical country. The warmth you get here is hard to find elsewhere. You are given too much respect, and the people care for you. To them, it is important for you to be happy and leave with good memories. And then, of course, there’s the food that makes it even more amazing.
How was your experience of cooking with Indian chefs?
It was interesting. Firstly, each cuisine is different from the other, so the techniques differ. Unlike other cuisines, in India, a lot of work is done before the food is served. Also, I have noticed that the chefs here do not feel the need to use measuring spoons for their spices. They touch and feel, and breathe in the aroma of the spices, and dunk them directly into the pan. It’s fascinating!
What’s your take on the Indian culinary space?
There’s no other country that understands spices better. Indian cuisine, when done traditionally and accurately, is one of the greatest cuisines in the world. It’s designed to feed people, not just to impress them. And that’s the best sort of food. Also, cooking here is more philosophical than simply following the recipe. I remember the first time I had arrived in Mumbai, the visual and emotional impact from the airport to the city silenced me. There was a certain sweetness of spices lingering in the air.
That begs the next question: what’s your favourite Indian dish?
Every time I come here, I enjoy eating lamb curry that is slow-cooked with the bones. This helps balance the spices and flavours in the dish. I also particularly love black dal. Even though I’ve eaten black dal many times in England, the one I ate in New Delhi was incredible.
Any advice for aspiring chefs?
Find the confidence to push yourself, to drive yourself, to read, and to respect the classics. Serve your food the traditional way. Stop being obsessed with the presentation. Food isn’t designed for Instagram; it is designed for eating. Be generous while serving food. Also, remember that Mother Nature is the greatest educator and artist. She helped me with my world and my work. So, let her guide you.