His repertoire is huge and includes everything — from melt-in-your-mouth carpaccios to multi-grain dosas, appam and stew. But Chef Mayank Kulshrestha, the new executive chef of ITC The Sonar, does have a soft spot for Continental cuisine. Having trained in France in the final year of his studies at the Indian Institute of Hotel Management, Mumbai, tossing up a French dish is easy work for him. And on days that he is hands-on at the Westview Kitchen & Grill, you can expect Bay of Bengal tiger prawns and special sauces on the menu. An old ITC hand, Kulshrestha flagged off his career as trainee sous chef at Welcomgroup Management Institute in 1989. Between 1996 and 2001, he did a stint as chief trainer-food production management at Welcomgroup Management Institute, New Delhi and then moved on to ITC Mughal, Agra as executive chef. Here are three recipes from the chefs vast repertoire.
Kidney Beans soup with crisp Pancetta
(For the soup base) 250gm vegetable trimmings 2 litre water 1 bay leaf 2gm black pepper 100gm leek 100gm celery 50gm boiled kidney beans (For the soup finishing) 10gm chopped onion 10gm chopped celery 10gm chopped leek 10gm chopped carrot 5gm chopped rosemary 25ml Barolo winel 2gm sea salt Extra virgin olive oil (For the garnish) 20gm pancetta 1 boiled eggwhite, sieved Rosemary sprigs
Simmer all the ingredients for the soup base along with water on low heat. Boil the kidney beans with salt and keep aside. Sauté the onions, leeks, celery, carrots and rosemary in olive oil and add the kidney beans, Barolo and cook. Add the kidney beans stock and cook with sea salt. On a hot pan, cook pancetta dices till crisp and pour on top of the soup. Sieve the boiled egg white and pour it in. Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary.
Maguro Carpaccio with wild berry emulsion
(For the Carpaccio) 120gm Maguro tuna 2gm sea salt 25ml extra virgin olive oil 5ml lemon juice (For the wild berry emulsion) 30gm wild berry 10gm castor sugar 2gm sea salt 25ml white vinegar 10ml extra virgin olive oil (For the garnish) 1 cucumber 20ml extra virgin olive oil 50gm Arugula lettuce 20gm Lollo rosso 2gm sea salt
Cut the fish into thin strips and season with sea salt, olive oil and lemon juice. Mix the wild berries, castor sugar, sea salt, white wine vinegar and olive oil in a bowl placed on top of an ice bed and emulsify. Garnish with lettuce and cucumber.
Smoked Halibut with lamb bobotie
(For the marinade) 180gm halibut Juice of one lime 2gm sea salt 10ml extra virgin olive oil (For smoking) 2gm oak pellets 200gm charcoal (For the bobotie) 50gm minced lamb 10gm onion, chopped 10gm leek, chopped 10gm carrot, chopped 100ml tomato juice 5gm sea salt 2gm crushed pepper 1 egg yolk 50ml cream (For the sauce) 50gm butter 60ml cream 10gm onion, chopped 10ml Pernod 2gm fennel seeds 2gm salt (For the garnish) Fennel shavings Olive oil Salt
Marinate the halibut fillets. Heat a tight-lid container on the burner with the oak pellets for flavour. Once it starts smoking, place the fillets on a platter inside the container and shut the lid tightly and keep off the burner. Sauté the mince with all the vegetables and tomato juice till well cooked and dry. In a bowl stir the cream and egg yolk and pour on the cooked mince, spread on a tray. Bake for 30 minutes. Sauté the chopped onion and add white wine and allow the wine to reduce. Pour the cream and simmer while stirring continuously. Take it out of flame and gradually add hard butter knobs, whisking continuously. Finish with fennel seeds and seasoning. Garnish with fennel shavings drizzled with olive oil and salt.
As told to Nandini Guha; Photographs by Rashbehari Das