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Talking food with Chef Rajesh Shetty, inflight chef, Etihad

11 May 2020 by Business Traveller India

Business Traveller India speaks to Chef Rajesh Shetty, inflight chef, Etihad for tips and recipes on how to enjoy a premium inflight dining experience at home during this lockdown.

What are the three must-have ingredients for preparing a fine-dine meal?

A few ingredients that I always have in my pantry to prepare a fine-dine meal are:

  • A good quality olive oil: Not only are they a healthy option but also great with almost all fine-dining dishes as well as excellent dressing, flavoured oils and marinades.
  • Sea salt or crystal salt and variety of spices and herbs: They are key to making meals flavourful and kicking them up a notch.
  • Basic sauces or stocks: It’s good to have them on hand, as they are great for soups, casseroles and protein-based dishes.

Can you throw some light on the challenges one might face while creating a premium inflight experience at home and how can they overcome these?

A major challenge can be sourcing good quality, destination-specific ingredients and artisanal products. One way to overcome this would be to look for alternative local brands. For example, ingredients such as quinoa, considered as a superfood by many, can be replaced with locally available and time-tested ingredients such as pearl millet, Sorghum or finger millet.

Also, familiarise yourself with food pairings; these prove to be useful in creating the right flavour profiles while designing dishes.

Can you share examples of exquisite two food pairing options that we can replicate at home?

Tomato-basil; banana-caramel; carrot-coriander; yoghurt-mint; mango-saffron; pineapple-chilli; apple-cinnamon; pear-balsamic and lamb-minted yoghurt are few interesting food pairing options.

Since everyone is at home, they are trying to find ways to remain healthy and fit. Please do share three tips on healthy gourmet meal options

Watching what you eat is important at all times. In fact, we ensure that our guests have the option of ordering a healthy meal, even onboard. This is one of the key features of Etihad’s fine dining offering, the Weqaya menu. Weqaya means prevention in Arabic and is an initiative by the Abu Dhabi Health Department to promote healthy eating.

While at home, here are some tips to ensure you prepare and eat healthy meals:

  • The major focus should be on the method of cooking. One must opt for healthier options such as steaming, poaching and baking.
  • A good base in the form of a healthy neutral stock can be used for continental sauces or preparing a basic Pilaf.
  • The latest culinary trend is to revisit our basic, unadulterated, ancient ingredients in order to create modern healthy dishes.
  • Using locally sourced seasonal produce is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Three tips on plating and presentation to have the ultimate premium culinary experience at home

  • Using the right flatware size, colour and style are crucial. Using ingredients with contrasting colours will result in creating beautiful, vibrant dishes.
  • Be a minimalist. You should use one main ingredient as the show stopper. Small portions are easier to style and prevent clutter on the plate. Avoid unnecessary use of garnishes, oils, spices or microgreens, as this will take away focus away from the dish.
  • Ensure that they are compatible and help in bringing out the best in each element. Using components that have contrasting textures is essential. Ideally, sauces used should have a velvet-like texture and be smooth.
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Cover of November 2020 - January 2021 edition of Business Traveller
Cover of November 2020 - January 2021 edition of Business Traveller
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