Ramchandra Oraon at Hotel Radisson Blu in Ranchi on Friday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
He’s been halfway around the world on assignments, been there, done that and knows his sushi from his beef stroganoff. But this is one tribal chef who swears on food made by grandmoms and great-grandmoms.
Ramchandra Oraon (38), a sous chef in Ranchi’s blue chip hospitality hub Radisson Blu, rustles up delicious tribal cuisine — dehati chicken, chhilka roti and dhuska.
With Ranchi’s Dhurwa international stadium becoming a cricketing hub of the East and Ramachandra’s workplace a preferred retreat for celeb cricketers, the chef is on a roll.
Modestly, Ramachandra says: “Visiting teams of the ODI and the IPL did seem to enjoy the food I made. I remember Ashok Dinda and Suresh Raina appreciating my dhuska. Many also loved dehati chicken. And now, I am gearing up for Champions League.”
On tribal food, the chef with 14 years of experience in the hospitality industry — Ramachandra has had stints on a South America-Norway cruise as a diet chef, worked in Dubai’s Jashan, Mumbai’s Hotel Holiday Inn, Varanasi’s Radisson Blu, among others — he is something of a crusader.
“I’ve been a diet chef and a menu planner abroad and I also prepare Thai, Chinese and staple Indian cuisine. But let me tell you tasty tribal cuisine of Jharkhand has the potential to do very well everywhere.,” he said.
Take dhuska for instance, he says.
It looks like a cousin of the poori or malpua but it’s unique. It’s a runny batter of pulse-and-rice which is deep-fried and can be had with dehati chicken or aloo dum or even just on its own.
Chhilka roti, a thin and soft pancake of rice batter that is folded up like a hanky and served, resembles a dosa but isn’t.
“It’s very versatile, healthy and goes with a lot of side dishes,” he said.
Ramachandra, who’s from Dumartoli in Gumla district, completed schooling from St Ignatius High School, Gumla, and graduated from Marwari College in Ranchi. He went to Mumbai for a three-year diploma from The Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition.
“I appeared in two competitive exams, banking and hotel management. I’d toyed with the thought of becoming a police officer like my dad Vasu Oraon. But hotel management, my childhood dream, won the day,” he said.
What’s the man like behind the chef?
Ramachandra, who’s married to Alka — “she’s a lecturer at ISM-Pundag” he says proudly — has two children, Anjali, a ninth grader in Kairali School, and Arjun, a class I student of St Xavier’s School.
“I want my kids to enjoy both pizza and pitha,” he said. “As for me, I’d like to open a motel on Gumla highway someday. And push tribal food,” he beamed.