The Chai Pani restaurant in North Carolina was declared America’s “Outstanding Restaurant” in the 2022 James Beard Awards this week. Mehrwan Irani, the founder and chef of this restaurant, is a fan of Indian street food and he believes it is what best describes the essence of Indian food. And, the special thing is that Irani’s favorite street food is bhelpuri.
Sharing his thoughts on Indian food, Mehrwan Irani said, “The food is much more diverse, interesting, and unexpected than the handful of regional cuisines that have become popular so far.” As per Irani, the street food of the country best captures the essence of India like no other food. Indian street food is colorful, vibrant, innovative, joyful and of course delicious.
Speaking about the most popular dish in his restaurant, Irani said that the dish named Sloppy Jai is the most popular. He says that it is the essence of his restaurant and it has the power to bridge the cultural divide between Parsi and American cuisine. Sloppy Jai has become one of the most famous dishes.
Coming back to Indian food, Irani said that it is one of the most painstakingly prepared dishes in the world. “Often the complexity of our curries, gravies, and sauces is brought down by shortcuts and pre-made ingredients,” he added.
Irani also added, “Americans have a misconception that chili is the specialty of Indian food. However, it was started by the Portuguese. Before this, for thousands of years, Indian dishes were made without many spices.”
Giving a tip to aspiring chefs who want to open a restaurant, Irani said they should pay attention to three things–
First, are you doing something that sets you apart?
Second, are you looking for the deliciousness and hospitality of your food?
Third, and most important, are you doing something meaningful for the community you serve?
Keeping these three things in mind will make your journey easy toward becoming a chef.
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