The Indian chef tells Time Out about culinary culture shocks, a love of food and his mother's cooking.
How long have you been in Dubai? I moved here in 2007.
What did you find to be the biggest culture shock? It was not a big change for me. I was in Mauritius before coming here, and between Mauritius and Dubai, I found huge changes, but I didn’t find many difficulties in moving here. Indian cultures are everywhere here. That’s why I found it so familiar; it felt like home itself.
When did you begin cooking? Actually, when I was 15. That’s when I started to leave home for my studies. I would stay with a couple of friends, and I used to cook food for them. They used to encourage me, like, ‘This is good, this is good’. I don’t know, maybe they were just using me to cook for them. Still, I was happy to do it.
Who is your culinary hero? My mother. She was a very nice cook. She’s from the coastal region of India, and she cooks food with just a few ingredients. She won’t put 25 ingredients in one dish. She’ll use hardly four or five ingredients, so you can enjoy the real flavour of the food.
What do you think about the quality of Indian food in Dubai? The cooking here is pretty good. The quality of the ingredients the restaurants use here is excellent, and that makes the food tastier.
Are there any ingredients you would like to use that are hard to find over here? Nothing is really impossible to get here. We use a lot of imported stuff, such as fish and lamb. The lamb we’re importing from Australia.
How are customers in Dubai different to other customers elsewhere in the world? Customers are very choosy here. In Dubai, they have more options to try. Everywhere you go here, you can find a different cuisine. They have more options than in any other part of the world, so they’re very demanding guests. Our aim is to be able to meet their demands. If we meet their demands, we succeed.
What do you cook at home? The same stuff you cook at the restaurant? No, no. At home it is totally different. I just cook with three or four ingredients per dish, and I cook in a simple way. That is my philosophy. That is how you can enjoy the real flavour of the main ingredient. In Indego, we’ll use six to eight ingredients.
What is your favourite cooking method? I mostly enjoy cooking food in tandoor. The tandoor is a completely different way of cooking compared to any other cuisine in the world. It is healthier, and you don’t need to put any extra oil or extra fat in the food, and it gives food a smoky flavour. It requires special skills; it’s not possible for everyone in the world to cook that way.
What would you have for your last meal? Last meal? I would visit the Noble House. I’ve heard a lot about it. It’s the next place I want to visit, but I don’t often get the time. Maybe at the end of the week, or this month, I’ll be there.
Is there any type of food you won’t eat? I eat everything. I eat whatever doesn’t bite me back. I’m a great food lover, and I plan to keep going, and keep eating, until I die.
Indego, Grosvenor House Hotel (04 399 8888). Open Sun-Fri 7.30pm-12 midnight. All major credit cards accepted.