“When a person cooks for someone, it reaches his/her Karma”
A chat with Chef Nilesh Limaye
Apparently, people who love to eat are the best people. So, what about people who love to cook? Are they best of the best? Don’t know how true it is, but after having a conversation with Chef Nilesh Limaye, we can say that there’s a possibility of the theory being true. The man wears many feathers on his hat, he is a Chef extraordinaire, TV show host, Author, and a Columnist. There’s nothing in the food world he can’t get a grip on.
The conversation with Chef Nilesh was filled with laughter (lots of laughter!) and sharing of information on food! We are more than excited to share the interview. Read and share 🙂
Tell us about your journey with food! Was there any eureka moment when you thought you wanna become a chef or you always knew that you’re going to be one?
In 1988, after my 10th grade, I realized I don’t want to get into any conventional career course. I have always loved food but back then I was kinda fussy about it. As a kid, I would only eat Potatoes! Or few basic things.
Since I loved traveling, my father suggested me to get into hospitality (Travel & Tourism). I felt it was the right course for me but soon I realized that hotel management is the mother of hospitality/service industry, so I did Hotel Management. After spending a clueless first year, I spent the second year getting trained in the kitchen. So that’s when my affair with food began and that was the eureka moment for me.
Cooking is a therapy. How true is that according to you?
It’s the best form of therapy. It teaches you a lot – from creativity to management. You play different roles even when you are making one single dish; like you have to think of colors, flavors, costing, seasonal varieties and much more.
I really pity young people who say they don’t like to cook; they are missing out on so much by not liking it. Apart from being therapeutic, it has a lot to give and teach you. When a person cooks for someone, it reaches his/her Karma.
Since then the journey has been quite overwhelming. I started my career with Hotel Taj in Mumbai!
What does chef Nilesh do when he is not cooking?
I spend time with family. I’m totally an extrovert person and I love to travel. I like to visit historic places. Not an avid reader but I like getting hooked on to non-fiction literature.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
There’s no particular style, I like to cook what I feel like cooking in that particular moment. I really like fusion, can infuse any Indian ingredient to create a foreign dish. To be very honest, I’m quite an orthodox person when it comes to cooking, I don’t like to tamper any authentic recipes, a Rasgulla should be made how it should be! You can’t really make a Chocolate Chips Rasgulla, that would steal away its authenticity.
Tell me something about your favourite cuisine. Why is it your favourite?
Asian cuisine is my favourite. I enjoy cooking Asian food, it’s just so healthy, not oily and not at all greasy. The technique they use is out of the world. There’s no addition of unnecessary spices in it. It’s nice, simple and fresh.
However, being a Maharashtrian, I love Maharashtrian cuisine as well, the coastal Malvani food is my favourite. There’s not much awareness about our authentic regional food and I would love to spread awareness about it. India is such a diverse country, we have so many authentic dishes from each city. I love eating local food whenever I visit any new place.
What is Chef Nilesh’s signature dish?
(Laughs) Oh, there are many! To name a few it’s Asian Rice, Will call as the Jasmine Rice. Also, home-style Sabudana Khichdi, any kind of Pasta, Misal, Puranpoli fusioned with orange juice and Khow Suey which is an Asian dish. In non-veg, I make very nice Tambda Rassa which is a dish from Kolhapur. Also, Crispy Bombils!
Would you like to share something about your restaurants and NLSCA (Nilesh Limaye School of Culinary Arts)? You have plunged into quite an exciting ventures.
The culinary school is my dream, which is open for everybody who is cooking enthusiasts. It’s kinda house with a big kitchen. I know how it feels when people appreciate the food you make and I want others to experience the same.
Any words of wisdom for home chefs?
Cooking is not a rocket science. Enjoy your food and the whole cooking process, enjoy your market visits as well. It’s kinda therapy, go for the Sunday morning strolls to the market and feel the freshness of the vegetables!
If it has to be one thing that I should add daily to my diet than what it would be? What would you suggest?
Have peanuts every day in some form or the other, peanut salad or peanut oil. Not much but 20-30 gms. a day.
What is your take on extra virgin olive oils?
Olive oil has always been perceived as a very classy, healthy and elegant. The process by which the extra virgin olive oil is made, that itself is truly blissful. The first extract of olives, its aroma, and colour, it’s so very invigorating.
Nutritionally it is one of the best oil. It is good for the body from inside out, giving you that natural glow. I have seen Italian women and you can see that glow on their face.
Would you like to share one of your best dishes made using extra virgin olive oil?
It will call Mumbai Bruschetta, which will be made out of Ladi Paav. You create a ratatouille of all the vegetable that you use in a Pav Bhaji and add the Masala. You put this ratatouille on the extra virgin olive oil toasted pav and add cheese on the top. This way, you get the perfect aroma of Pav Bhaji Masala and Flavour of Olive Oil. This is an out of the world dish.