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Meet the chef: Anuraag Narsingani of JW Marriott Hotel Pune, India

By Jyoti Balani on 30th May 2020

Anuraag Narsingani is the executive chef of JW Marriott Hotel Pune. With close to two decades of experience in the hospitality industry, Anuraag is a quintessential chef whose expertise in the culinary world has resulted in award-winning menus. Prior to joining JW Marriott Hotel Pune, chef Anuraag worked with the Oberoi Group of hotels. He began his career at The Oberoi as a demi chef de partie.

Since then he has worked hard to become an indispensable asset to every restaurant he has worked with. After working at The Oberoi, Mumbai, he moved to Trident BKC where he was an integral part of the pre-opening team, which worked right from the conceptualization through to the operational stage. After a successful stint of three years at Trident BKC, chef Anuraag moved on to The Trident Jaipur as executive chef where, he perfected his signature style and prepared great culinary dishes from across the globe.

He has worked with various cruise lines, after which he returned to Mumbai to work with The Trident, Nariman Point, to take charge of the food operations of the celebrated Frangipani all day dining restaurant as well as other food production areas. Armed with a bachelor’s degree from IHM, Mumbai, and numerous other professional trainings, chef Anuraag’s ardent focus is to create more memorable dining experiences for his guests, by designing interactive menus that incorporate super foods and vegan options.

Chef Anuraag’s ardent focus is to create more memorable dining experiences for his guests

Chef Anuraag believes that great food goes beyond tantalizing the taste buds, and with every recipe, he aims to create a striking experience for his guests. In his spare time, he enjoys listening to music, playing badminton, going for adventurous bike rides and spending time with his family.

What is your favourite comfort food?

When it comes to my all-time favourite comfort food, I’d have to say it’s pindi chana without a shadow of a doubt. It’s a recipe that gives me a sense of well-being and takes me back to my childhood days. If there’s a way to win my heart, it’s through my stomach by feeding me pindi chana.

Which foods do you recommend that we can cook easily at home these days?

In the current situation, it’s important to display efficiency and not waste much time at home even when it comes to cooking. I would recommend dishes that can be prepared using just 3-5 ingredients, especially those that are easily available at home rather than having the need to go out and purchase a whole lot of things. Social distancing is the need of the hour, let’s do our bit.

What does your favourite comfort food remind you of?

As a child, I still remember my mother cooking chana (chickpeas) for lunch every Sunday. This special recipe of hers had no tomatoes and was a dry preparation with home ground spices. With this requiring the chickpeas to be soaked overnight, the soaking of chickpeas on a Saturday night had become a tradition for our family.

Chef Anuraag likes to design interactive menus that incorporate super foods and vegan options

Give us a list of comfort foods that can be made during the lockdown

Some of my favourite comfort foods that can easily be made during the lockdown are as spaghetti aglio olio, pasta Napolitano, rajmah chawal/kadhi chawal/ chana chawal, pav bhaji , pani poori,  halwa poori, club sandwich, mixed pakoda, sooji idli with sambhar and baida roti (egg paratha or kathi rolls).

Please give us an example of one-pot meals that can be made easily during this time

rajma chawal, kadhi chawal and chana chawal are the simplest of one-pot meals that one can make during this time.

How do you plan to reinvent how you work?

Reinventing how we work and function in our day to day lives has become a need of an hour so the measures we have undertaken include maintaining and practicing strong hygiene procedures. We’ve made it compulsory for everyone to wash their hands every hour, there is weekly training on hygiene and medical check-ups for all those returning from their respective hometown post the lockdown.

Recipe of pindi chana

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

400 gms chickpeas
40 gms black salt
5 gms ajwain (carom seeds)
5 gms cumin seeds
20gms green chilies, chopped
20 gms ginger finely chopped
2 gms black cardamom
50 gms ghee
20 gms garam masala
5gms black pepper
10 gms deghi mirch (chilli powder blend)
5 gms amchoor (dried mango powder)
20 gms anardana (pomegranate seeds)

Method:

1. Ground the whole spices and blend with garam masala.

2. Soak the chickpea overnight with whole black cardamom and black salt.

3. Cook the chickpea in the same water for 4 hours or pressure cook till 16 whistles.

4. When the chana (chickpea) is 80% cooked, add tea sachets of English breakfast tea. Do not add tea in the beginning as it will make the dish bitter.

5. Add kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and the dried spice powder and cook further.

6. Add ajwain (carom seeds) cumin seeds, chilli and ginger to the pot.

7. Heat ghee and add over the spice.

8. Cover with a lid and cook for 30 minutes and serve hot with steamed rice.