London

'My Cooking is Progressive' - an interview for Alpha Magazine

Alpha Magazine 22 May 2014

The launch of a new Indian restaurant is unlikely to get us excited, given the abundance of Subcontinental fare here. Ditto for places that do fusion food. But Indo-French cuisine inspired by the coastal Indian city of Pondicherry (a former French colony), now who wouldn’t want to tuck into some tandoori-seared foie gras or Madras filter coffee crème brûlée? After London and Brussels, La Portes des Indes has been launched in Dubai. We spoke to executive chef Mehernosh Mody about his experimental cuisine (he’s loathe to use the word ‘fusion’ to describe his creations).

 

Fusion food is notoriously difficult When It works well, it can be brilliant; when it doesn’t it can ruin a chef’s reputation. Were you apprehensive about experimenting with lndo-French fusion food?

My food is not fusion even though it has its roots in the dishes found in the former French-occupied colonies of India. Experimentation for any chef is only a step forward toward creating a new dish. It has become progressively easier for us to present our art with people travelling all around the world to expreience new cuisines.

 

Did you spend time in Pondicherry researching your dishes? Why Indo-French? Do you think the two cuisines have anything in common?

Yes, many months were spent seeking out the recipes and understanding they evolvement and influences. Being former French-occupied colonies some French cooking techniques and ingredients were still used with the addition of local spices.

 

How did you get into fusion cooking? How is it different from cooking traditional recipes?

I believe my cooking is progressive rather than fusion as my formative years (in India) were steeped in traditional cooking. The exposure to other cuisines helped me understand and further assimilate ingredients and cooking techniques to create new dishes.

 

 OK, so what is your definition of fusion food?

An amalgamation of cooking style, techniques and ingridients that work well together, which does not lead to confusion.

 

What’s the best compliment you’ve received about your food?
Customers who have said that they have never enjoyed Indian food with such depth of flavours and subtle spicing.

 

How easy was it to establish the restaurant’s reputation in London, which has so many good restaurants? How did people respond to the food?

As with any city that has great restaurants, reputation is built and maintained over the years and our customers are the best people to judge that, having been in London for over 18 years.

 

Why Dubai after London and Brussels? Who do you think will be your typical clientel here?

Dubai is a fast-evolving and vibrant city with great restaurants, and when presented with the opportunity to have a restaurant here, it seemed the perfect choice. Our clientele will be anyone who wants good food in a great atmosphere with exemplary service.

 

What are your signature dishes? Did you create any of these for the restaurant?

 

I have a few signature dishes that have stayed on our menus over the years and it would not be fair to single out any, also as a chef I would still like to create and discover more new tastes and dishes. One dish that I created for the restaurant that comes to mind is tandoori – seared foie gras served with a fig and tamarind chutney and honeyed naan.

 

Do you have any words of advice for budding restaurateurs?

It is hard work and it never ends, as we are in a vibrant and ever-changing environment that keeps you on your toes; but if you have the passion and dedication, the rewards are many and satisfying.