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Tuesday, Aug 16, 2022
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Plate Perfect

With over 16 years of experience as a culinary diva, and a profile that boasts of some of the best names in the food world, Chef Kshama Prabhu, Executive Chef, The Bar Stock Exchange, is a force to reckon with. Here she reveals how taste, finesse and perfection are key to serving up a spectacular dish.

Plate Perfect
Plate Perfect
outlookindia.com
2018-03-13T11:50:44+05:30

How many times have you been to the very popular Bar Stock Exchange, chosen your drink and ordered for some fine accompaniments to go with it? Well, the lady behind those creations that make your evenings a tad more merrier is Executive Chef of The Bar Stock Exchange, Corum Hospitality, Kshama Prabhu. With over 16 years of experience as a culinary diva, and a profile that boasts of some of the best names in the food world, Chef Kshama is a force to reckon with.

“After having travelled the world over, when the offer to head The Bar Stock Exchange chains came to me, I was a little skeptical. I did not know how much of a value food added to a sphere like drinking. But Mihir, the owner was very bent on making food a key point. And gradually, I turned the menu around and was myself surprised to see how food works even in club scenes.” Having worked with excellent chefs Chef Gordon Ramsay and Chef Nancy Kinchella, to name a few, Kshama has cooked up a spectacular, authentic and extensive menu at The Bar Stock Exchange. Under her stellar supervision, The Bar Stock Exchange has managed to open six new outlets recognized for their exceptional fusion cuisine and won several awards.

The Bar Stock Exchange

My advice to budding chefs would be to be patient, learn as much as you can, be prepared for long hours and to learn to compromise on holiday time. Only then will you be able to achieve perfection.
-Chef Kshama Prabhu

However, the journey for the Merit Swiss Asian School of Management graduate who developed an interest in culinary arts from her grandfather’s catering business, which she grew up around, has not been an easy one what with professional kitchens still being a heavily male-dominated space in our country. “Post my stints at Jumeirah Beach Club (Dubai), Vu’s at Emirate Towers Hotel (Dubai), Allium at Dolphin Square Hotel (London), Gordon Ramsey’s Boxwood Café (London), Corleone at Intercontinental Marine Drive (Mumbai), Boardwalk Bar & Bistro Brisbane (Australia), I came back to India, to join as the Head Chef at The Tasting Room. Managing the team wasn’t easy as the workforce comprised 100 per cent men, who were not ready to start taking orders from a woman. I had to work around it, and with time, they too realized I was not someone they could simply take for granted. I then moved to Moshes as Executive Chef and subsequently to The White Owl Brewery & Bistro, and subsequently to The Bar Stock Exchange. It is never easy being a woman in a professional kitchen, but with the right attitude, one can slowly but surely overcome the hurdles that come along. What is important is for your team to be convinced that you are there to work in alignment with them and all that you truly care about is the food that goes out on the table.”

An ardent lover of Mediterranean and Modern European cuisine, Kshama considers her pastas and risottos to be a signature, and perfection and finesse for her are key. “This stems from the fact that I have always seen my grandfather being extra particular about what was being served up. If it wasn’t up to his standards he would simply junk it. Therefore, I learnt very early on in life that food is about rekindling memories, and has to mingle around to tickle the taste buds of those eating the fare. If this means I need to spend two hours more in the kitchen, I would happily do it. At the same time, my food is high on finesse, and this stems from the fact that I have trained in fine dining restaurants across the globe. Perfection to me is like a disease, which I think reflects positively in the food I create.”

While on the outset, a chef’s life can be high on glamour, which Kshama says is another reason why she took up professional cooking, the reality is that the work days often end up being as long as 14-16 hours, where you are up on your feet all day.  “The kitchen as it is requires a lot of physical effort….so keeping fit is mandatory. The fitter you are, the longer you will be able to sustain. At the same time, it is important to maintain a healthy work-life balance, which I realized much later in life, especially after the birth of my child. Thankfully, I am now in a position where I can manage my own timings, able to take Sundays off to be with my son at home.” So, does the Chef like taking up the ladle in her home kitchen? “Honestly, no, since cooking is what I do for a living. But now, my seven-year-old son very often demands I cook up something for him. Variations in prawns and pasta are his favourites. The cutest apart is he helps me out in the kitchen with little things such as peeling garlic, etc.” On a concluding note, Kshama says it is a great time to be a chef in India, when the food scene in India is undergoing a rapid change with more focus on local, hyperlocal and seasonal produce. “People are looking beyond global cuisines to appreciate what is available locally. In a way, food is going back to the roots, and that is a welcome change.”

***

Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

  • 1½ cup dry quinoa
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • ½ tsp dry basil, minced
  • ½ tsp dried thyme, crushed between your fingers
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups arugula
  • 1/3  cup roasted red bell pepper, drained and chopped
  • 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup basil, thinly slivered

Method

  • Cook the quinoa according to package directions with ½ teaspoon salt added to the water. Cool completely.
  • Mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pressed garlic, basil and thyme. Whisk until well combined. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside.
  • To a large serving bowl, add the quinoa, arugula, garbanzo beans, contents of the Salad Savors package—red bell pepper, kalamata olives and feta cheese.
  • Drizzle with the dressing and garnish with basil. Season to taste. Serve at room temperature.

For best results, use India Gate 100% Natural Quinoa

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