Over the past few years, Indian food, much like Vietnamese and Korean cuisines, has made giant strides in the landscape of American cuisine.
Over the past few years, Indian food, much like Vietnamese and Korean cuisines, has made giant strides in the landscape of American cuisine. No one can speak to this more than chef Sachin Chopra, the creative force in the kitchen at Bay Area restaurants All Spice and Arka (where he's chef-owner and consulting chef, respectively). Chopra, who was recently named one of the four new chefs to watch by Esquire, had garnered accolades for his unique marriage of Indian and West Coast flavors. I spoke to the chef about his creative twists on classic Indian cuisine, the benchmark dish for a truly great Indian restaurant, and what spices you need in your pantry to create restaurant-worthy Indian food.
YumSugar: Where do your menu items (like chilli cheese uthappam and tomato basil biryani, both on the menu at Arka) come from?
Sachin Chopra: Working in various upscale restaurants over the years, both Indian and American, I developed a passion for combining the best elements of each. Arka's menu is a reflection of that passion; it is my interpretation of classic Indian food, presented with Californian sensibilities.
YS: I've noticed a trend toward the fusion of Indian and Latin ingredients. Does that influence you at all in your menu development? Do you think the Latin-Indian fusion concept has mainstream potential?
SC: We have an abundance of fresh produce here [in California], and it so happens that some of the same ingredients that make Latin cuisines delicious also work well with Indian food. Sure, there could be a market for Latin-Indian fusion, provided the chef respects each cuisine and is masterful in combining them.
YS: What are some other trends you're seeing in Indian cuisine today?
To find out his answer, keep reading.