Benjamin Lalhmangaiha is the Chef De Delicacies on the award-winning specialty Pan-Asian restaurant ZEGA on the Sheraton Hyderabad Lodge. He’s a dynamic epicurean who likes to discover quirky and strange elements to supply company a unprecedented Pan-Asian eating expertise. His forte is crafting revolutionary creations and infusing distinctive flavours in typical dishes. This has led to him curating particular menus for the completely different choices on the restaurant. The restaurant is ideal for socializing over eating or night cocktail expertise.
Chef Benjamin holds a Grasp’s diploma in Worldwide Hospitality Administration from Queen Margaret College, Edinburgh, UK and a Bachelor’s diploma from Worldwide Institute of Lodge Administration, Kolkata. In his leisure break day, he likes to play the guitar, discover the most recent culinary developments and spend high quality time with household.
What meals takes you again to your childhood?
Rising up in a Mizo family, I’ve fairly a couple of native favourites. Like my mother’s Momos crammed with Chayote Squash and pork, the Chow Satui Leih (Soupy noodle with pork or beef broth), and Sanpiau (Rice porridge/Rice Congee) accompanied with some spicy dips constituted of grounded hen eye chilli, contemporary garlic and shallots. These convey again fond recollections of my childhood after I consumed it as a snack or lunch. In the present day despite the fact that I’ve cooked and tasted some lip-smacking dishes over time, these stay my favourites. One chunk is sufficient to take me again to my carefree days of cheerful household gatherings.
What’s the hottest dish on the present menu of Zega?
Our menu has an beautiful number of one of the best Pan Asian choices. Amongst these, the Zega Hen (Hen Wok stirred in secret Zega sauce) is the highest vendor and hottest Hen Dish. I’ve created the key sauce with the suitable spice mix to go well with the Indian Palate and produce a singular flavour. A number of different star dishes are Lamb Chops, Cheese Asparagus dumplings, Edamame and Water Chestnuts, and Crispy Thai Lotus stem stands out from the remainder. One should additionally attempt the most recent additions to our Cocktail menu like The Smokey Previous Vogue, The Emerald Muse and The Clear Skies.
What has been your meals philosophy?
As a child, I used to be fascinated by my mother’s cooking. Her ardour to infuse wealthy flavours in each dish cooked is what drew me in the direction of this occupation. My first position as an Assistant Chef to her from the early age of 8 and the educational via the years has helped mould my philosophy that one of the best dish is when the meals is “genuine, easy, tasty and constant”.
Have you ever observed any altering developments in your Indian patrons over time? Please elaborate.
As extra Indians now journey throughout the globe and work overseas, they’re open to exploring completely different cuisines. Their palate has turn into acceptable to newer flavours with eagerness to find extra. It ought to be famous that there was a rising demand for Thai Delicacies, owing to its shut flavour profile to Indian delicacies. Fortuitously, I’ve attained an excellent quantity of expertise in it, as that was one of many first South East cuisines I discovered below the mentorship of a Thai Chef throughout my transient stint in Bangkok. It’s additionally one in every of my favourites on account of its acquainted style in Mizo delicacies. A whole lot of the spices used are much like those we use in our Mizo dishes.
Do you utilize any particular elements that you just get particularly from any South East Asian nation?
When cooking genuine meals, it’s essential to have the suitable elements obtainable to get one of the best flavours. Through the years, I’ve set to work with a few of the high ex-pat cooks from Malaysia, Singapore, China and Thailand. They helped me join with one of the best distributors who import high-quality elements and unique greens like Thai lotus stem, mushrooms, tuna, salmon, lamb chops and so on. from South East Asia. At Zega, the standard and freshness of elements are a high precedence to make sure our dishes have a scrumptious style.
How simple or troublesome it’s to know the Indian palate and flavours?
Since my roots belong to the nation and I’ve labored right here, I perceive all concerning the Indian Palate. Throughout my research in Kolkata, I understood this intently, as I used to be within the birthplace of Indian Chinese language. We Indians could be the harshest critics or the best individuals to win over, its all about balancing these flavours. Whereas a couple of cuisines like Korean must be tone down on spice and pungent flavours, others just like the Chinese language must be tweaked up on the spice degree to cater to the Asian Delicacies cravings of our inhabitants. So after I create my recipe, I do know that the recipe must fulfill each inch of the Indian Style Buds.
What does it take to maintain the competitors?
The restaurant enterprise has cutthroat competitors, with newbies coming into the market often, which implies we have to discover new methods to lift the bar. I attempt to up my sport by following quite a lot of Worldwide cooks, in search of inspiration from their work and looking over food-related content material on Social Media, which has turn into the brand new age encyclopedia for many people.
As a restaurant, I imagine to thrive on this aggressive panorama it’s key to undertake revolutionary methods, keep consistency, know the competitors, value it proper, replace the menu choices as per market developments, and navigate together with the altering model. For instance, the rise of Ok-pop and Ok-Drama followers throughout city has led to the fan following of Korean meals. Holding this in thoughts, we at Zega are quickly launching one thing thrilling for all of the Ok-Followers in Hyderabad.
What’s that one meals reminiscence that actually makes you nostalgic?
The time when my spouse cooks up my all-time favourites – the bamboo shoot and pork, the Chow Satui Leih (Soupy noodles with pork or beef broth), and Sanpiau (Rice porridge/Rice Congee) accompanied with some spicy dips constituted of grounded hen eye chilli, contemporary garlic and shallots. It evokes nostalgia and makes me wish to return in time to alleviate the candy recollections of me devouring these whereas my mother freshly ready and served them to us with all her love.