Spots for snake sticks and saffron cream – The Pioneer

Dheeraj Mangothra, Executive Chef of Drool Kitchen, discusses must-try dishes from regions like Venice and Hungary.

Dheeraj Mangothra, Executive Chef of Drool Kitchen, discusses must-try dishes from regions like Venice and Hungary


In Delhi, the best way to win people’s trust, is still through a beautiful dish of dal makhni or butter chicken. Guests might have travelled across India and also be familiar with world cuisine, but they give you points on the basis of how well you prepare traditional favourites.

My speciality is continental cuisine. After working in countries like Austria, I experiment with dishes from German and Lebanese cuisine. But at Drool Kitchen, Dwarka, I realised that mix and match works best and also demands the most effort. So in my menu here, one can find almost everything popular, including Indian specialities. But we also serve whole wheat pizzas, seafood pizzas, malabari and pudina fish and apple honey chicken. None are commonly found in Delhi restaurants. Particularly apple honey chicken curry. This was invented in my kitchen by sheer accident.

I was working in Europe and supposed to cook fish curry with pears. I could not get it right, and was in a fix about what to do for a substitute. Something Indian, but moderately spiced and appealing to the European palate. So I cooked chicken curry with a hint of apple and honey. The curry at the top tastes sweet, because of honey. But dig deeper and you get Indian ingredients like karipatta.

Sometimes experiments go haywire, and at the final moment you must present what you have in an interesting way. I was working with a hotel situated on an island near Spain. It was a Christmas evening. There was a wide platter on offer from across the globe and the highlight of the dessert section was saffron mousse. Due to less gelatin, the mousse fell flat.

It was merely saffron flavoured cream. I could not think of anything that would create the shape of mousse. We got martini glasses, filled the bottom with chunks of pineapple, topped saffron cream and covered glasses with huge pieces of pineapple. It looked pretty and interesting.

I am a huge fan of Lebanese cuisine and would love to offer dishes like Labana, a rice and lentil preparation. Or Mutabbal. Mutabbal, popular in the West as Baba Ghanoush. It is prepared with eggplant, tahini, olive oil and lemon. I travelled most places in the world famous for food and must say that Venice is a must. Also for those interested in culture and history of Italian cuisine. The restaurants in Italy teach you things. Food is still cooked in a traditional style. Whenever you eat at restaurants in Venice, you notice each one has something different. I once ordered calzone, thinking it would be a normal pizza. It is actually a kind of stuffed beef pizza. The dough is handmade. And the stuffing is juicy, wrapped in a crisp covering. The most shocking food experience, was eating snake sticks in South Africa. It is a headless snake wrapped on a stick and roasted. If you are a street food lover, I suggest you visit the Oktoberfest in Germany.

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