World-renowned chef Vicky Ratnani, currently the Chief Culinary Advisor at Hello Green, talks about how travelling has shaped his cooking, the places around the world he’d recommend for inimitable dining experiences, and the future of Hello Green, a food outlet making the rounds for its healthy options. By Gayatri Moodliar

1. You’ve travelled all over the world. How have all those experiences influenced your cooking style?

I think with travel you learn about ingredients and usage, about taste and flavours. And then you try to use it, or a part of it, in your cooking. 

2. What, according to you, is the best culinary destination in India?

Lucknow. 

3. Any ingredient you carry with you no matter where you’re travelling?

My home-blend of spices. 

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I am a huge fan of cooking over fire and coals !! There is something very ethereal about it. Grilling for myself has always involved meat, fish , shellfish and corn …. we have moved to feature #plantbased #plantforward meals cooked and eaten community style bbq meals and fun and interaction while cooking I had the blessing and luck to spin up some fresh marinades using produce from the farm , harvesting vegetables like winter carrots, Radish, cauliflower , cabbage , bell peppers, kale, Swiss chard, beef heart tomatoes , bottle gourd . Marination some with a wet spicy paste, some of them with dry rubs and a few cured in brine before hitting the grill. The results were magical Look forward to feeding you soon @thebandraproject @theprojectin !!! #vickythegastronaut #chef #tbt #plants #vegetarianrecipes #vegan #bbq #grill #comingsoon #instagood #chefsoninstagram #picoftheday #nomnom #shotoniphone

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4. Tell us about the best meal you had recently.

Biryani outside Jama Masjid. 

5. Top five culinary destinations to travel to around the world?

Lucknow, Amritsar, Tuscany, Hong Kong, Chiang Mai. 

6. What’s the most unconventional thing you’ve eaten while on a vacation?

Beef heart in Lima. 

7. Solo or group travel?

Solo travel for sure. 

8. How long did it take you to develop your own personal style of cooking?

It took about 15 to 16 years. I first learned the basics, then numerous travels taught me more. Working with other chefs has also been a big part. Gradually one starts to adapt; it’s like going to a gym. 

9. How do you not crack under pressure?

Planning, organising, and passion. 

10. What’s been your most memorable trip so far?

Varanasi and Machu Picchu. 

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Jag Mandir is a palace built on an island in the Lake Pichola. It is also called the "Lake Garden Palace". The palace is located in Udaipur city in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Its construction is credited to three Maharanas of the Sisodia Rajputs of Mewar kingdom. The construction of the palace was started in 1551 by Maharana Amar Singh, continued by Maharana Karan Singh (1620–1628) and finally completed by Maharana Jagat Singh I (1628–1652). It is named as "Jagat Mandir" in honour of the last named Maharana Jagat Singh. The royal family used the palace as a summer resort and pleasure palace for holding parties. #udaipur #jagmandir #rajasthan #igersrajasthan #india #vickythegastronaut #chef #cheflife #tbt #instapic #instatravel #instagood #winter #india #2019

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11. Where did you last travel to?

Bali and Hong Kong. 

12. Have you seen any exciting development when it comes to eco-consciousness during your travels?

Green kitchens, composts, rainwater harvesting, solar panels, and new methods of green cooking. 

13. How do you see Indian cuisine influencing global ones?

Indian cuisine is aspirational for chefs abroad. Using spices is a science and requires technique. It is important to understand the nuances of herbs versus spices. 

14. How do you see the future of sustainable dining?

It’s going to get even bigger. People will be going greener and there’ll be more responsibility in sourcing.

15. What can one do in their own kitchens to further the sustainability goal?

There’s so much: buy local, cook seasonal, avoid wastage, use everything (root to stem cooking), grow produce in your own garden, install a compost.

16. In sourcing ingredients, how much do you get involved?

I’m 200% involved. It’s the fun before the cooking. 

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Talking of the street food in India, if there is one city that leaves spellbound with its variety, tastes, and usage of spices, it is Indore. The city is like a heaven for the foodies wishing to explore the varied Indian preparations. Though creating its own versions of dishes from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Punjab, Indore still cannot be compared or falls back when compared to the original counterparts of these dishes. To lead to a right to the most popular hubs of street food #Indore #i Dia #madhyapradesh #malvan #streetstyle #streetphotography #streetfood #patnipuraindorecity l love indore for its simplicity and the people love for food !!! The walk and inspiration derived from the market is #foodgasm #discovering #discoverindia @madhyapradeshtourism #tbt #vickythegastronaut #chef #cheflife #cheftraveller #instagood #picoftheday #shotoniphone #iphoneography #chefsoninstagram more on indire coming soon !!! @india @buzzfeedindia @foodtalkindia #cleanindia

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17. When delivering through Hello Green, how do you ensure the freshness of the produce?

Things are prepped fresh in small batches and are tossed to order. Our ingredients are sourced from small farms so the carbon footprint is much less. 

18. What is the scope for personalisation when it comes to the eatery’s programmes? 

Hello Green has launched various meal plans for people with on-the-go lifestyles and millennials who are getting more conscious about what’s on their plate and the production process. We cater to anyone looking to get healthier—athletes, fitness enthusiasts, food connoisseurs, just about anyone. While placing an order, one can discuss their concerns and the team shall assist in the best possible manner.

19. What’s on the menu, in the future, for Hello Green?

Regional delicacies with choicest ingredients like warm bowls and millet biryani. 

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