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About Microgreens, Lotus Leaf and the Art Of Food Presentation – Chef Ranjan of The Tamara Kodai

by Sachin Kulkarni | November 06, 2018 | India's Chefs

Ranjan Samal, Executive Chef at The Tamara Kodai, Kodiakanal, has emerged as an innovative and prolific chef who is using microgreens to enhance his dishes and create delicious yet healthy recipes.

Ranjan’s dishes and recipes have an innovative blend of microgreens, that have emerged as one of the hottest food trends in recent times for their numerous health aspects.

Born in Odisha and raised in Bengaluru, a multicultural city that is known for its amalgamation of different cultures, Chef Ranjan has always been intrigued by various mouth-watering dishes the city has to offer. In conversation with Sachin Kulkarni, Blooming Greens, Chef Ranjan talks about how his childhood at Bengaluru fascinated him to pursue a career as a Chef, his experiment with lotus leaf recipes, his innovative dishes, and his journey so far.

Always a passionate cook who loves to experiment with unique methods of cooking, Ranjan decided to prepare a signature dish while working at Tamara Kodai, and that is how he came out with a dish with the main ingredient as lotus leaves, which is a synonym of Tamara.

Another culinary practice that distinguishes Ranjan from other chefs is his use of microgreens in his recipes. He likes adding microgreens to the dishes he prepare because it makes the food more presentable and full of nutritional values that are good for health. Also, he likes the flavors the freshness of microgreens brings to his dishes. Besides using them for garnishing, Ranjan also uses microgreens as main ingredient in salad, sandwiches, and filling stuff in certain dishes. Ranjan always prioritizes on creating dishes that not just look good but taste amazing too.

Ranjan’s childhood in Bengaluru led him to go for a course in Hotel Management in Kolkata where people are passionate foodies and celebrate every festival with exotic food. It was at Kolkata where Ranjan first began to understand the various aspects of Food & Beverage (B&F) industry. Once he started his career as an Executive Chef, Ranjan got to know that besides being an excellent cook, a good Chef also has to be well-informed about other factors including human resources, food cost, labor cost, design, union rules, cleaning, and public relations etc.

Ranjan puts a lot of emphasis on food plating or as it is more commonly known as, food presentation. He likes to put his creativity in simple dishes making them more special and presentable to the guests. At times, guests find it surprising when they come to know that the dishes are the regular ones but prepared in a much better manner.

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In every profession, there are ups and downs and Ranjan’s professional journey is also not untouched by the critics. Talking about his experience as a cook, Ranjan said that the kitchen is like a firework place where sometime you get burns, cuts, and scratches. However, you must always fulfill the guests’ demand with a smile. He said that even after putting a lot of efforts, you sometime get to hear not so positive feedback from the customers but instead of getting disheartened, you have to rework on the recipe and make it better.

When asked how he comes out with his innovative recipe ideas, Ranjan said that he often travels across the country to explore and learn about numerous types of spices India has got to offer. He has been bringing all such spices and is adding them to his unique dishes since the pre-opening days of Tamara Kodai when he first joined the 5-star hotel.

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