Sarah Todd reveals her favorite Indian comfort food, must-have ingredient and more
Australian chef Sarah Todd has an undeniable connection to India. Remember when she whipped up the humble Indian Aloo Gobhi in MasterChef 2014? The Indian restaurateur and second cookbook author has extensive culinary experience and we could all take lessons from her – for our dishes and even life in general. NDTV Food had a chat with the celebrity chef and she talked at length about her date with Indian cuisine, her favorite ingredient, a viral recipe she tried and her favorite comfort food of all. time; food that would resonate with many North Indians. Read on!
1. When did you first try Indian cuisine?
I first tried cooking Indian food after my son was born. He is half Punjabi, so it is only natural that I present him the food of his heritage. I am trained in French cooking techniques and found the difference between cooking styles a little intimidating. However, I fell in love with spices and the magic they bring to a dish. I now find cooking Indian food fun and exciting, and it’s my favorite style of cooking, with my Australian touch of course!
(Also Read: Chef Sarah Todd Shares Unique Recipe For Bhel Puri, Have You Ever Tried It?)
2. Have you ever had your food returned to a restaurant?
Of course, I appreciate the comments. It’s our job to give the dining experience the best overall experience. We want our guests to leave happy and hopefully come back. There are so many things that influence the dining experience, and sometimes it has nothing to do with your restaurant. They might just be having a bad day, or the dish may not suit their palate. With the pressure of a busy kitchen and preparing meals on time, accidents happen. I would prefer a guest politely explain the problem with a meal so that we can rectify it. It is much better than not speaking up and writing a negative review without any opportunity for the boss to respond to the complaint.
3. Has confinement changed your personal cooking style and general idea of cooking and eating?
Every experience in life influences my cooking style as I learn and develop new skills. I have tried a lot more recipes now that I have the time and I love the trajectory my cooking style is heading towards.
4. What kept you going during the confinement period?
The work never stops and I love it. I have been working on new products that I had in mind for a very long time. The confinement allowed me to focus on this dream project. I loved cooking at home with my son and spending quality time together.
(Also Read: Celebrity Chef Sarah Todd Bakes Armaan Jain’s Wedding Cake)
5. A dish that you had a hard time creating.
In 2019, I prepared a 5-course tasting menu for the first all-female Australian Open Chefs Series, one of Australia’s most prestigious culinary events. Australians have known me since my visit to MasterChef and the documentaries My Restaurant in India. However, my cooking style has changed drastically since MasterChef. Due to my time in India, I have developed a unique Indo-Australian style of cooking. It would be the first time Australians have had the opportunity to try it. My menu took guests on a journey of flavors from all over India while incorporating native Australian ingredients.
I wanted the final dish to be a show. The dessert, called “Broken Rose”, was inspired by the refreshing and delicious falooda. With 13 different items, each item needs to be prepared and put on before starting the next one. A fresh organic red rose that has been submerged in liquid nitrogen is then smashed onto the dish.It’s an enthralling dessert.
6. Any ingredient you love to add to anything possible.
I love the versatility of the spices. Sweet, tangy, tangy, sour, spicy, aromatic, tangy, sweet, fragrant or tangy, there’s a spice to spice up any dish, from a pinch of earthy cumin on carrots before roasting in robust Laal Maas with an explosion of chili peppers.
7. A viral recipe that you couldn’t resist trying?
Eggs in pesto, with my twist, of course. It’s live on my Instagram.
8. If you hadn’t been a chef, what would you have been?
I have always dreamed of being a racing driver. I like to drive on an open road through the countryside. I find it very relaxing and it makes me forget everything.
9. What do you like most about Indian cuisine?
- Full of flavor
- Adding spices and herbs to humble ingredients turns the dish into something beautiful
- Variety – the dishes are so varied from village to village, city to city and state to state
- The power of traditional Indian cuisine to promote good health and support immunity
- The abundance of vegetarian and vegan options
10. What was your inspiration behind your second cookbook – My Indian Kitchen?
As I traveled through India, I marveled at the diversity of cuisines in each state. I was welcomed into the home of a Mising family in Assam and stayed with a tribe in Nagaland. I attended a cultural festival in Kashmir and cooked freshly caught xacuti crab with a family on the banks of the river in Goa. These trips and experiences have influenced the way I cook.
My book represents these experiences and highlights the India that I know and love. In a way, it’s my way of thanking you for sharing their culture and their stories with me. In ‘Everyday India’ you will find just that, recipes inspired by ordinary people. I was inspired by street vendors and families who shared their meals and homes with me. I used tips I gleaned from family restaurant chefs and ingredients I discovered in the most unexpected places.
The opportunities presented to me by India have helped me to step out of my comfort zone and this chapter of my life has inherently shaped my book.
11. What is your favorite comfort food?
My idea of comfort food is something delicious that causes nostalgia. The other day I was cooking Paratha with my son and he said to me, “Remember when Bibi (grandma) cooked this for me all the time. This is what I prefer to eat. Paratha has become a comfort food for us in our home and one that is linked to fond memories for myself and for my son.