This time when I speak to Chef Abhijit Saha, Co-Founder, Director & Chef, Caperberry & Fava, Bangalore, he’s just curated a special five-course menu at Caperberry for WowTables, as the Chef feels it is important for everyone to experience the culinary delights that the Caperberry menu has to offer. In a bid to give diners the real taste of Caperberry’s avant garde cooking for the WowTables experience, Chef Saha has hand-picked dishes that, according to him truly highlight the essence of Caperberry’s culinary repertoire.
And what’s on this special WowTables experience at Caperberry, you ask? For starters, it is modernist European, bringing to your plate creative gems that highlight the Chef’s expertise. The Herb Grilled Grouper, for example, seems like a mainstream dish at the outset. But, it’s made extremely interesting, thanks to molecular gastronomy techniques by pairing it with an equally interesting orange sauce. Then there’s Surf & Turf, which is a sous-vide braised lamb shank, that is finished with red wine sauce and dark chocolate! “The addition of dark chocolate to the Surf and Turf gives this dish a different dimension,” says Chef Saha. The desserts too, are no less! Churros Moderne, for example, gives a spin to the Spain’s favourite; served with warm chocolate and cinnamon-sugar, these are baked, not fried. The Crema Catalana, on the other hand, is served in the form of espuma, the light foamy texture that looks as wonderful as it tastes.
When it comes to molecular gastronomy, the mild-mannered chef who also heads Caperberry, Fava, Café Cassia, a quaint and relaxed eatery at the Cinnamon boutique in Bangalore and Saha in Singapore, is a purist. “Contrary to general perception, Molecular Gastronomy is not about foams and caviars,” says Chef Saha. For him, it is about understanding the science behind cooking and applying it to create innovative dining experiences. He, however, adds, “Techniques of molecular gastronomy can be used everywhere to add playful and fun element to food. It can give dining a sense of humour and create wonderful memories.” Being hands-on with learning the nuances is extremely important, and once that is taken care of, the world is your stage for creativity. According to him, molecular gastronomy, a trend that’s doing the rounds in the country for some time now, is here to stay as it is now integrated into mainstream cooking. Who would have thought it would be extremely common to find faux caviar, those tiny little spheres decorating your plate, that burst with flavours ranging from sweet to savoury or even deconstructed desserts like panna cotta, rasmalai – that give the diner a chance to experience different elements in a unique manner!
Chef Saha, who has over twenty five years of cullinary experience to his name, has also been an entrepreneur since the last eight years. Surely, managing four different properties requires superhuman effort! “It has been an exhilarating experience and time has taught me how to balance the rough with the smooth.” Pegging it down to his excitement about working with multiple cuisines simultaneously, the ever-humble Chef, gives credit where it’s due, “Having a good team is very important for all of them to work well together,” he says.
The mainstay at Caperberry, is the use of core molecular gastronomy techniques to let the high quality produce shine. “We use a lot of specialized equipment like paco jet, sous-vide water bath etc. to offer customers the highest quality of dining experience,” says Chef Saha, about Caperberry, which also has one of the best and well-priced wine lists in Bangalore. For the uninitiated, paco jet makes use of technology for precision-spinning all types of foods into a fine, creamy consistency, while working on deep-frozen foods without thawing, locking in optimal freshness. This means ice creams and sorbets reach your plate at the ideal serving temperature. Sous-vide (French for ‘under vacuum’), on the other hand, is a technique that cooks meat, seafood and even vegetables at a precise temperature in an airtight plastic bag submerged in a water bath. This modern technique not only reduces the cooking time but also ensures that every dish served is consistent in taste, texture and visual appeal!
Whilst he’s got his hands full with creation and execution of menus (like the one for WowTables), managing teams across various properties and everything else that comes with being an entrepreneur and Chef par excellence, Chef Saha is also busy adding finishing touches to the Caperberry Cookbook, which he admits has been long overdue. “Like Caperberry, the cookbook is also a labour of love and I hope I am able to share a lot more than just recipes through this book,” says Chef Saha. With plans to renovate Fava and expand Saha to other countries, Chef Saha sure is a busy man taking his dreams to the next level. Here’s hoping we can all get to be a part of it!