In addition to being a product specialist in the food and beverage industry for almost 20 years, Tarun Sibal has also worked with top wine houses around the world and recently coined the concept of ‘collaborative cuisine’, making him the rightful recipient of this title. Our deputy editor talks to the all-rounder about his inspiration, process, and signature dishes. By Adila Matra
Tarun Sibal talks to T+L about his comfort cuisine and food philosophies
Have you always loved cooking? What made you want to be a chef?
I always wanted to cook, and cook professionally. For me, it was the first step towards a bigger play within the food and beverage domain. I was exposed to culinary arts from a very young age as I belong to the third generation of the first catering family of Delhi. So, the ecosystem was ideal, but more than the settings, it was what I wanted to pursue.
You always say that your cooking process is very instinctive. Tell us about a few dishes born out of this philosophy.
I had just opened Street Storyss in Bengaluru, and we had four desserts in the first menu. As we started getting a lot of repeat clientele, the options were exhausted in the first two months. Coffee Malai was conceived on the DelhiBengaluru flight, and I went straight to the kitchen from the airport without even checking in. It was my take on the affair Bangaloreans have with coffee. The textures were that of a pannacota, crème caramel, and kurchan rabri; it was topped with biscotti and coffee toffee sauce.
Can you explain the concept of ‘collaborative cuisine’?
‘Collaborative cuisine’ was coined when I conceived Titlie, my culinary bar in Goa. It is when two or more ingredients, food techniques or inspirations, jam on a plate and the result is more than the sum of its ingredients. It’s abstract and all over the place, yet forms a pattern and tells a story. A classic example would be the butter garlic black pepper prawns with sambar puree and pol sambol. It’s a take on a Singaporean dish, with a hint of the Kerala sambar and Sri Lankan chutney.
What is your comfort cuisine?
Comfort food for me feels like joy and warmth. It brings a smile to the face. It could be dal chawal, or a lobster. It’s not the ingredients but the motive with which it’s cooked.
Which countries’ food philosophies inspire you and why?
I love grazing tables where everyone sits together and have a feast, so Italy is right up there. The streets inspire me a lot, so the entire Southeast Asian belt—from Canggu to Lau Pa Sat—inspires me. The respect Japanese have for food is surreal. And more than any other country, my own country has so much to offer and teach.