Regular patrons of the Taj Vivanta in Gurgaon would notice a distinct shift in the taste of the food which the kitchen churns out, now that the hotel has invited Arzooman Irani to act as the executive chef, taking over the kitchen from Neeraj Chaudhry.
After having worked in the Taj in Bentota, Sri Lanka, Chef Irani would bring his skill at that country’s cuisine into the kitchen of the Vivanta.
Talking about his cooking, Chef Irani stated “The part I love most about cooking is when I get an opportunity to experiment, and to create something new, something which hasn’t been done before, which is what excites me”.
The new menu at the Vivanta bears testament to this love of experimentation with dishes, though seemingly familiar, but each enclosing a significant twist on normal flavour. This is most visibly embodied in the Lasooni Rasgulla Palak, which takes an ordinary Palak Paneer Kebab, and replaces the underlying paneer with a sweet rasogolla base.
The new menu also has a selection of Sri Lankan dishes which the Chef mastered during his stewardship of the Kitchen of the Bentota Taj, with the Vegetable Black Curry being the most delectable of them. The menu also has a vein of the healthy running through it, with Chef Irani creating an entrée with only raw ingredients. The Compressed Watermelon comprises of a slice of watermelon, layered with baby basil, balsamic pearls and feta cheese.
The innovativeness of the Chef is visible even in the most traditional of dishes, as can be seen by his take of the classic Baklava, where the traditional dessert is subtly modified by his use of honey caviar and chironji.
There is also an emphasis on the aesthetics of the food, with each item being carefully presented to create an enticing appearance to supplement the taste. The forest epitomizes this care in appearance, with the mushroom and basil pesto used on rigatoni pasta to create an appearance of a forest in a pasta dish. The care which is infused into each dish reflects the concern of the Chef to present to the customer a dish which gratifies both the eye and the tongue.
Talking about the shift to the Gurgaon, Chef Irani opined that “Working for the demanding, cosmopolitan milieu of customers which I would find in Gurgaon would allow me to utilize all the skills which I have developed in the years that I have been in the cooking profession.”
Having been inducted to cooking professionally while still in School, Arzooman has a long association with the profession, and the sort of proficiency at it which only time honing his craft could have accorded. Talking of his initial interest in cooking, he says “I used to love the way my grandmother cooked, and I was amazed at how she could create such gastronomical gems without the use of any definite system of measurement or reference to any record. That induced a curiosity in cooking, and the joy I experienced during my initial attempts at it assured me that I had found my calling.”
The joy which he talks about is easily discernable in the way his face lights up as soon as he talks about the latest innovation which he tried out, and discussed the intricacies involved in his art. Judging by the food which he produced for the initial Chef’s table to announce his induction into the kitchen, the guests at the Taj Vivanta are in for a fascinating time.