The best meals in the world, according to Sequel chef Vanika Choudhary
In this new series, we convince the top gourmands in India to part with their guide to paradise on a plate
Orange became the new black, tattered the new trendy, intermittent fasting nudged keto out of the spotlight, and with each passing post about smoothie bowls, healthy became the new cool. Vanika Choudhary, founder of one of Mumbai’s most popular organic restaurants Sequel, is at the helm of India’s clean eating boom.
“It’s the ingredients that make all the difference, and the way these ingredients are treated. You can be an amazing chef but if you don’t use good quality ingredients and great produce, then the meal doesn’t taste the same. This is my philosophy,” says the chef.
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So what is the go-to meal for Vanika Choudhary the diner? “Picking things from the wilderness and making them edible – concepts like this are very exciting for me. Not getting complacent is another thing. Always trying to do something new also excites me as a diner,” she says.
Choudhary’s Instagram is a food-lover’s dream – showcasing beautiful plates of food from across the globe. We asked the chef to recommend her favourite haunts, take us through her favourite meals and tell us what according to her makes for an ideal food experience.
The best meals that Vanika Choudhary has ever eaten
‘It’s a cerebral experience that stays with you for a lifetime’
“It’s my most favourite restaurant in the world. The last meal I had at Noma was last year during the vegetable season. It’s incredible because of the kind of produce that is being used, the emphasis on eating foraged food, the techniques they employ and how Rene (Redzepi) – the head chef – has brought Nordic cuisine to the forefront.
Also, the meal is put together so beautifully – eating food is treated as a celebration. They have a 26-course meal and I love pretty much everything on the menu, which was customised for me because I eat gluten-free. My favourite is the seabuckthorn and black current butterfly, and I thought their fresh seaweed was just incredible.
People don’t normally approach food the way Noma does and that is probably why it has become what it is today, it’s the most cerebral experience that stays with you for a lifetime.”
‘We’re at Gaa every three months’
“The koji berry bread with sea grapes was absolutely mind-blowing. But I think the one dish that has been my favourite of late is this jackfruit preparation that they served with cornbread and different pickles and condiments, and you can literally sit there and make your own taco. The dish reminds me of an Indian home cooked meal served with a bunch of pickles to choose from.”
abcV, New York
‘The flavours and the freshness of the produce that do it for me’
“I absolutely love their poached eggs with habanero and Swiss chard. It’s the flavours and the freshness of the produce that do it for me. They serve it with a dosa, and it’s a combination I’ve never tried so I was shocked by how good it was.”
De Kas, Amsterdam
‘It is a complete farm-to-fork concept, and I love it’
“It is basically a plant house where they grow their entire produce, a complete farm to fork concept. The way the food is treated, the fact that it is grown right there – they are putting the spotlight back on organic food which I think, as chefs, we really need to do, and make the future generations understand that.
From this summer’s menu I loved a dish that is as simple as it gets — freshly harvested turnips served with mustard sauce, poppy seeds and almond crumble and roasted rhubarb on the side. It struck the right balance – tangy, crispy, and the texture of the poppy seeds with the almonds worked perfectly.”
Gucchi Pulav, Kashmir
‘It’s a traditional Kashmiri recipe and my go-to comfort food’
“Gucchi is a wild morel that we forage back home. The whole concept of foraging is big in Kashmir. These wild mushrooms are only found in the Himalayas, where they’re picked during the rainy season, and then sun-dried for months. These mushrooms in fact are the most expensive in the world after truffles.
It’s a traditional Kashmiri recipe and my go-to comfort food. It’s rice, gucchi, and a lot of local spices that among others include bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, and this special variety of cumin called black cumin or shah jeera. Every household has their own take on this dish, and I like my mom’s version the best.”
Ranjit’s Svaasa, Amritsar
‘It’s like eating a home-cooked meal’
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Sarson Ka Saag te Makki di Roti Courtesy : Ranjit's SVAASA #amritsarifood #sarsonkasaag #sarsonkasaagmakkikiroti #winterdelight #punjabifood #winterdish #mustardspinach #ranjitssvaasa #grannyscafe #amritsar #punjab #indianfood
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“It’s a heritage boutique hotel we usually stay at. I love their Punjabi food. Their makki di roti and sarson ka saag is absolutely amazing. It’s almost like eating a home-cooked meal.”
Cafe Madras, Mumbai
‘The small podi idlis are to die for’
“I love my dosas and appams, so this would be an obvious choice. I love the neer dosa and the sada dosa there. Even the small podi idlis are to die for.”
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