Rethinking (vegetarian) gastronomy | Share – Gulf News

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KK: How and why do you select these ingredients?

RR: I have always believed in teamwork and one day during a briefing before the start of operations, I asked my team which vegetables they liked the most and which ones they preferred not to eat at all or did not want never even try. Everyone found the same. At first, my idea was to create something with people’s favorites, but I realized that there are so many vegetables that people don’t like. Everyone wants to eat only their favorite foods. My one vision was to change people’s perception by creating something magical with them – and my team’s perception changed drastically when they tasted the menu.

KK: You are referring to the infamous Bottle and Bitter Gourds! You also revealed that “real” Indian families cook with more nuances than garlic, onion and oil-heavy traditional Indian restaurant dishes. Avatara embraces subtlety, delivering an experience that proves satiating – but not overwhelming – and nutritious for body and soul. For example, the menu highlights Ayurvedic practice. Is it a more accurate representation of the connection between Indian culture and its cuisine, or is it a connection that you encourage as part of your culinary philosophy?

RR: If we’re talking about Indian cuisine, it’s a big chapter to study, and it can’t be summed up in a few words. At Avatara, we use simple household cooking techniques: people cook food with less oil and spices so food doesn’t get heavy and stays tasty. Following this culture of Indian home cooking, we encourage people and tell them about the health benefits of the ingredients we use on the menu with reference to Ayurveda.

KK: A simple philosophy presented with a precise, technical and elegant culinary execution. Each plate features refined yet experimental artistry, often evoking nature: gardens, lily pads and misty hills. How essential is this to create a sensory dialogue?

RR: Question-free presentation plays a very important key role in culinary art. There is a stereotypical belief that you eat with your eyes first, then your taste buds, but my thought process is different. I think when someone feasts on a particular dish, they should savor every bit of it with all their senses. Who doesn’t prefer fine art on the plate? As you listen to the story and the process behind it, your curiosity imagines the creativity and hard work required to build the journey of this creation from kitchen to plate. You need to know what you are eating, what ingredients are in it; it is essential that you can actually taste the ingredients. Also, know the important role of each ingredient, as well as the high nutritional value that is creatively mixed in foods. These form the major items that we mention on the physical menu. With every bite, you imagine the ingredients and the health benefits they provide, extremely salient for your body and mind.

KK: Avatara is a journey, each dish cleverly countering the previous and the next with a delicate interpretation of what could be powerful flavors. You show that vegetarian dishes are much more than its stereotype, and Indian cuisine seems like an ideal vehicle to explore this. Is your motivation to “reinvent” perceptions of Indian cuisine, or more broadly, to reframe increasingly outdated notions that “fine dining” and “Michelin” are synonymous with overindulgence and meat? Do you want to show that technique and finesse can also apply and allow vegetarian dishes to compete on equal footing?

RR: Yes, at Avatara we want to show that Indian vegetarian cuisine can be introduced to the level of finesse of Michelin restaurants, and we were listed by the Michelin Guide within the first three months of opening. This is a good start and an opportunity for us, where we can reincarnate Indian vegetarian cuisine, taking diners on a tasty journey through different regions of India.

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