|Varli Singh is without doubt the American |
ambassador of Indian gastronomy
By Sourish Bhattacharyya
VARLI SINGH has become the ambassador of Indian cuisine in a country that least understands it. Operating from her home city, New York, Varli now has a magazine, a website and a chef awards event (all dedicated to the Indian gastronomic tradition), she manages a discount card and a range of cookware carrying her name, and she also runs a charitable organisation that works for economically marginalised children back home in India. I wonder how she manage to do so many very different things!
We've been Facebook friends and I have been following her work for quite some time, so I was naturally drawn to her Facebook post on Manish Mehrotra, the incredibly talented powerhouse driving the success of Indian Accent, being the only one from the country to be invited to the Varli Chefs Showcase that is taking place this year on November 13 in New York City.
I then went to the Varli Magazine Facebook page and discovered the wealth of Indian kitchen talent that America has. They may not be glamorous like Vikas Khanna, the poster boy of expat Indian restaurants, but they have helped build brands that have demystified Indian cuisine to Americans who have a hazy notion of the “coooo-rrrry”. Some of them who will give Mehrotra company at the Varli Chef Showcase are:
· K.N. Vinod’s restaurant, Indique, is in the heart of the Washington, D.C. power district, Connecticut Avenue, and has been rated as one of the “100 Very Best” by the Washingtonian magazine.
· Ex-banker Shuchi Mittal Naidoo’s 29Calories is New York City’s favourite Indian tapas caterer at trendy parties.
· Bachan Rawat is the chef and co-owner of the A-List celebrity hangout, Bukhara Grill in New York City, which he started in 1999 with his business partners Raja Jhanjee and Vicky Vij, both of whom worked at the famous Bukhara at ITC Maurya.
· Delhi School of Economics graduate and ex-World Bank/McKinsey executive Rohini Dey, who’s now more famous as the owner of Vermilion, the restaurant that serves Indian food with the Latin American twist in Chicago and New York City.
· Another old Bukhara hand, Hemant Mathur, whose 55-seater Tulsi restaurant in New York City has a Michelin star (the guide calls his style “original, dashing and studied), and who, according to the New York Times food critic, “cooks like a dream”.
By getting together these highly talented people on one platform and dazzling New York City with their culinary genius, Varli Singh is giving her mother country’s food traditions the spotlight they deserve. I only wish she sets out on a mission to discover more gifted chefs in India and gives them a global platform. That’ll be a lasting service she’ll be doing to our growing community of chefs.
Here's the link to my previous article on Varli Singh.