Culinary Experiences: Books That Helped Chef Vineet Bhatia Cook His Way To Success
Balance of flavours. Sophistication. Style. These are some of the attributes of Michelin-starred chef Vineet Bhatia’s food.
In 2001, Zaika, the London-based restaurant in which Bhatia partnered, received the Michelin star, making him the first Indian chef-restaurateur to receive the honour. Bhatia is now the chef at Ziya, The Oberoi, Mumbai.
BloombergQuint spoke with chef Bhatia about his favourite cookbooks from where he draws the inspiration for modern Indian cooking and his greatest culinary influences.
Here’s a look at his reading list...
Cooking Delights By The Maharajas, By Digvijaya Singh
This book talks of all the classic cooking done in palaces, and cooking done during hunting. It talks of how meats were preserved and pickles made. It gives details on what vegetables were found in the jungles, what could be made of those, and what was served in palaces as part of the royal cuisine, according to Bhatia. “I found this very interesting.”
India Cookbook, By Dr. Pushpesh Pant
“This book for me is an ‘encyclopedia of desi khana. It tells you all about the nuances of Indian food in various parts of India. It’s a huge compilation of recipes and extremely well executed,” Bhatia said. “A real treasure trove for me.”
Prashad Cooking With Indian Masters, By J Inder Singh Kalra & Pradeep Das Gupta
This is a “phenomenal” book, Bhatia said. “It was the first book that I bought in catering college. It broke down the cuisine in various steps, on how you can utilise the various aspects of cooking in your daily cooking.”
A “brilliant” book, very well executed, with beautiful pictures, and extremely informative, Bhatia said.
Modern Cookery By Thangam Philip
“This was the very first book that I was referred to ever, because this was a part of our curriculum in catering college, back in 1985, when I first began my career,” Bhatia said. “We actually had to use the recipes from the book. When I began my training, I would use this book to make food, for tastings in the hotel. Basically, replicate them to the level that was shown in the book. This book helped lay good, detailed foundations.”
White Heat, By Marco Pierre White
This is a “very nice book. It inspires you to cook”, according to Bhatia. It’s more of a coffee table book, than just a recipe book, but having said that, it showcases Marco’s thought process of food, what he looks at. “Fortunately, I’ve known Marco for a good 30 years, so to actually have his book signed and kept with me, is a real treasure.”
The Essence Of French Cooking, By Chef Michel Roux
“This book was in our catering school in Dadar, Institute of Hotel Management, and I still remember, we had no money to actually go and buy that book, so I photocopied the book- every page, and I kept it safely with me. In 1993, when I moved to UK, I carried the book with me. Eventually, when I was consulting for British Airways, so was Michelle Roux , and I became good friends with him, and I told him the story, and got the photocopied book signed by him,” Bhatia said.
This book is extremely well executed, and is a benchmark for many of the cookbooks around the world. It is one of the very early cookbooks which details french cooking. Recipes are simple, yet very detailed, and extremely user friendly, he said.