Atal Bihari Vajpayee,Hillary Clinton,John Major,Shah Rukh Khan,Jeetendra,Saurav Ganguly,Sachin Tendulkar and Adnan Sami. While the names may read like an honour list of famous people,each with thousands of their own fans,these celebrated personalities are all fans of one person chef Partha Mittra. In a career spanning 27 years,Mittra’s job as a chef has taken him to places all over the world the Far East,the Middle East,Europe and a British curry festival at Hotel Hindustan International
(HHI) in Pune now brings him back to India.
Chef Mittra began his career in 1985,when he was picked up from the Institute of Hotel Management Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition by the Taj group of hotels in 1985. The Taj group sent him on several high profile assignments to countries such as Malaysia,where he once served a banquet for 5000 guests,along with a team of other top chefs. Over the years,Mittra earned a reputation for his delightful recipes and his dexterity in the kitchen. So much so,that he was invited to be personal chef to the Prime Minister,Atal Bihari Vajpayee,at that time.
My time as personal chef to Mr Vajpayee was mainly about breakfast; lunch and dinner were usually state affairs. For breakfast,it would always be something simple and vegetarian North Indian or South Indian, says Mittra.
Chefs like us who work in hotels,we often meet several celebrities. I really enjoy that, adds Mittra shyly. In fact,Mittra has served international personalities such as Hillary Clinton and John Major. His eyes light up when he speaks about Bollywood stars he has met,including Shah Rukh Khan,Juhi Chawla,Rani Mukherjee and Jitendra. But Mittra seems happiest when he speaks of the Indian cricket team. I am a huge cricket fan. The cricket team would regularly come and visit whenever they were in town, he says.
For the past decade,Mittra has been working in the UK,consulting for various restaurants and hotels and also working with the popular Oxfordshire restaurant,’The Snooty Mehman’,which serves British versions of curry and balti cuisine. Mittra has even won several awards for his curries,such as the Taste Britain Curry Chef of the Year Award,as well Curry Life Magazine’s top Curry Chef award. The British love curries. But they way it is made there is different. We use fewer spices; many of them are European herbs. The sauces and gravies are creamier and sweeter and lot less oil and butter is used so the British version is often healthier, says Mittra.
At the curry festival at the HHI property in Viman Nagar,chef Mittra,along with three other chefs from UK will present a fusion of Indian and British curries,with items such as balti fish exotica,chicken tikka masala,nimbu chicken with honey-glazed carrots and more. Through the length of the festival,till November 11,these chefs will personally oversee the festival and ensure that visitors get a true taste of the British curry. Indians take a little time to get used to new tastes but we are equally willing to try new things,so I hope people will enjoy the menu we’ve designed for them, says Mittra.