From sous vide machines to blow torches, these 3 chefs show off their fanciest kitchen gadgets : Chef speak
Chef Siddharth Kashyap
Restaurant: The Boston Butt, Kala Ghoda
In his kitchen: Smoking machines, curing chambers
On the menu: Pulled Smoked Chicken, Chicago Style Hot Link Sausages (pork or chicken)
It was a trip to London, where Chef Siddharth Kashyap tasted authentic American barbecue for the first time that sowed the seed for his pet project-The Boston Butt, a smokery and charcuterie. “Before that I had always associated barbecuing with flash grilling, high temperature searing with coal burning at 1000 degrees,” admits Kashyap.
But Texan or southern-style barbecuing is very different, with the meat slow and low-cooked in smokers at temperatures as low as 150F-160 F just keeping the meat warm throughout the process. “This renders the tough tissues of the meat really soft and tender, and imparts a very unique smoked flavour that you won’t get on a sidgi or tandoor. It’s sweet and woody,” he reveals. Kashyap has managed to get four small smokers in his Kala Ghoda kitchen and is serving up a southern feast. He smokes pork shoulders, beef brisket, chicken, kingfish as well as vegetables. Along with baking their own breads, they also make their own sausages at The Boston Butt (which gets its name from the cut of a pork shoulder). The curing chamber is where the sausages are hung and cooled currently, but Kashyap hopes to begin ageing some meats there soon.
Do it at home: Considering that Kashyap uses the smoker to not just flavour but also cook the food, this seems like a difficult feat to replicate at home. “One has to stoke the fire continuously to ensure that the meat is at 150-175 F at all times. If the fire is burning too high, add some more wood. You cannot leave it alone,” says Kashyap.
Referring to himself as a progressive old-schooler, Chef Paul Kinny believes that modern cooking is both a blessing and a bane. “While it makes life so much easier for a chef, it is also a bane because the new lot don’t know how to apply themselves to the real style of cooking,” says Kinny. “I’ve grown up serving fresh food, so I don’t get why they’re now insisting on adding chemicals,” he adds, clarifying that he’s not a fan of the molecular style.
When the team at Bellona Hospitality decided on the concept for 212 All Day, which plates up only local, fresh produce and believes in serving “clean” food, Kinny instantly thought of one machine he had to have in the kitchen. The dehydrator would help him serve vegetables in a way that made them exciting to eat, healthier for the gut and pretty to look at. Consider the dehydrator like an oven that works on a very low temperature, in some cases taking up to 24 hours to do the job. As opposed to boiling or cooking a veggie, this ensures that all the nutrients remain packed in, while the moisture is completely removed. “It is big among the raw food community. They use it to make chips of different kinds and add texture to their food,” he explains. His next experiment is going to be grain chips made with a variety of seeds laid out thinly and dehydrated. The result is crisp, guilt-free chips.
Do it at home: Turn up the heat of your oven to about 40-50 degrees. Lay out thinly sliced vegetables on the tray. Make sure the moisture/steam has a way to escape otherwise the food will keep absorbing the moisture. “My trick is to keep the oven door slightly open to let the moisture out,” say Kinny.
Chef Vicky Ratnani
Restaurant: The Korner House, Khar
In his kitchen: Sous vide machine, smoker, portable smoker
On the menu: Herbal Hummus, The Art House Salad
It’s a steep climb down to where Chef Vicky Ratnani keeps his gadgets in the basement of his The Korner House kitchen. Ratnani, who’s food is every bit as good as he says it is on television, is most proud of his sous vide machine. The thermocirculator is set at 58-59 Degrees, heating up the water bath that will slow cook the chicken breast. A quick seasoning of the chicken is followed by vacuum sealing the bag.
“This also ensures that marination time required is reduced. Because there’s no escape of oxygen, marination is accelerated by three times. At The Korner House, Ratnani has been attempting to serve vegetables with a twist too. His smoker and portable smoke gun are helping him champion this cause. Cauliflowers, paneer, salt-each of these get a distinctive cherry or apple wood aroma because of their time in the smoker. His quick smoking technique, using a machine that works on the same principle as a pipe, helps infuse clove or cinnamon flavoured smoke into cocktails or in the herbal hummus he serves. Do it at home: Every house should have a vacuum sealer, says Ratnani.
Vacuum freeze raw meat or curry and its shelf life increases to up to six months. To try the sous vide technique at home, you could place the vacuum sealed bag in a pot of warm water, but you’ll have to ensure the temperature is maintained at a consistent level throughout. Adding a smokey aroma to your food is far simpler.