If you’re someone who loves to travel to different destinations to explore the food and traditions but haven’t been able to figure out time off from the daily hustle and bustle, Gurugram’s SAGA might have an answer for you.
The restaurant has undertaken the mission to bring every corner of India under its roof through the food festival, The Great Indian Platter (TGIP).
After the success of Chapter 1 ‘Rangeelo Rajasthan’, TGIP is back with another edition of TGIP, but this time exploring the rich cultural traditions of Bihar and Jharkhand through ‘The Unsung Magadh’.
The 15-day cultural festival has been organised in partnership with Bihar Tourism and has a menu that’s been personally curated by Head Chef Kush Koli under the guidance of Michelin-starred Chef Atul Kochhar and founder of SAGA Vishal Anand. Both Kochhar and Anand share Bihar as their common birthplace.
In a chat with HELLO!, Chef Kochhar opened up about how food traditions from the Magadh region have often been overlooked when it comes to notable cuisines of India and The Unsung Magadh is just the beginning of the journey of popularising Magadhi cuisine across the country, and the world.
He also admits that the food festival allowed him to travel down memory lane, “Sattu, which is now considered a superfood, was one of the main ingredients I remember being used a lot in my home. Celebration food was always some form of mutton curries, like Ahuna Mutton Curry or Champaran Ghosht, or sometimes Bihari Kebab. Those were the celebratory meals. Malpua and Anarsa were my favourite desserts while I was growing up and, of course, Litti Choka.”
The award-winning chef also revealed everything that went on behind reinventing age-old Magadhi recipes for TGIP this time around. “Finding and curating recipes from the past and bringing them to today’s time is a huge task,” he said, “So you have to first imagine what life would have been like during that time and what people ate and then make it relevant to today’s time while also finding the ingredients that you can use. Luckily, India’s ingredients haven’t changed over 5000 years and it continues to be the same. We’ve evolved but we haven’t changed them completely and I think that’s the strength of our culture.”
He continued that the idea was to study and explore by putting together a team that could help them research and head in the right direction. “The main idea is to not let go of the heritage and continue to propagate it.”
He advises people to come and try a little piece of history by themselves and get introduced to a whole new world of flavour with The Unsung Magadh.
Before leaving us with an insider tip (“Try the small plates; I think that’s the best way to explore the reason and its flavours and textures and aromas.”), the chef also parted with a recipe from the region, the Ahuna Mutton Curry, which holds a special place in his heart as it was one of the dishes his family used to make when there was a celebration.
Ahuna Mutton Curry Recipe
Try Chef Atul Kochhar’s Ahuna Mutton Curry recipe yourself and get a taste of Magadh at home…
400g Onion Slices
80g Whole Garlic
4 Big Cardamom
4 Bay Leaves
1 inch Cinnamon
1 small Nutmeg
5 Black Peppers
2 tbsp Deggi Mirch
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tbsp Jeera Powder
1 tbsp Coriander Powder
1 tsp Garam Masala
Salt to taste
350g Mustard Oil
15g Ginger (julienne)
10g Coriander Leaves
1) Mix all the ingredients together and keep it in a clay pot and dum cook over charcoal.
2) Cook the dish for 45-60 minutes.
4) Garnish it with chopped coriander and serve.
The Great Indian Platter Chapter 2- The Unsung Magadh will take place at Saga (Gurugram) from February 18th to March 5th.
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- Chef Atul Kochhar