Zorawar Kalra, restaurateur, show host and entrepreneur with his rather famous Massive Restaurants Pvt Ltd. is fast expanding. He says it was his father, Jiggs Kalra, who was his mentor and inspiration while anchoring him to the enterprise. And it is for taking forward his father’s unique culinary legacy that well laid plans of reopening the famed Masala Library in Delhi continue their onward march as an ode to the late Jiggs Kalra.
Often called the Czar of Indian Cuisine, Kalra Sr. passed away last week, 17 years after a debilitating stroke that took away much of his mobility but not his recall of everything he knew about food. Anyone who knew Jiggs will surely miss his twinkling eyes, booming voice and his incredible encyclopaedic knowledge of the world of food that was the foundation of so many successful restaurants.
Today, the father and son enterprise has several award-winning fine dining restaurants - the signature Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra, the smart-casual Made in Punjab, the modern Indian bistro concept Farzi Café and modern pan-Asian bistro concept Pa Pa Ya, cuisine agnostic modern ‘freestyle’ bar & kitchen – Kode, high energy dining concept – MasalaBar and BBQ’D with its unlimited grill and brewery concept -- to name just a few of their successful ventures.
Zorawar Kalra and father Jiggs Kalra.
“Farzi Café opened in London last year and we have great reviews. It is now in 12 cities in India and was recently launched in London, Riyadh and Kuwait with plans of going to Muscat, Qatar, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Rome in 2019! Indian food has great potential and I would say the world will soon be our oyster,” emphasises Kalra of the enviable growth they have witnessed.
Zorawar Kalra calls his father's creations ‘progressive cuisine’.
In an exclusive interview with in.com, Zorawar Kalra talks about things his father, food and all matters closest to his heart.
Describe your father’s influence on you?
Since my teenage years, I travelled around the world with my father and found it an amazing education just to see the way he worked with food. He was a gastronome and a food consultant but not a chef. He created wonderful intellectual properties for other people and I found that intriguing. It made me want to be in the business of food and restaurants. However, I first learnt everything about how to do business (he has an MBA from Boston) and then worked at putting Indian cuisine on international plates.
What was your father’s role in the food empire that you have built?
Whatever we have built was done together under his mentorship. It was his genius and his storehouse of knowledge about food and vast expertise in food entrepreneurship which has guided me every step of the way. His is the guiding hand in the new menu development of Masala Library which will reopen soon and whatever innovation we do it will have the same attention to detail and the intense dedication to food that is his signature. He is the cultural DNA of Masala Library.
Molecular gastronomy in Indian food is your speciality. Can you explain what it is?
Molecular Gastronomy is the use of science and art to create food. It’s a technique to change an ingredient or dish to add an element of surprise to take the experience of dining to another level. It’s been in place for a few years, now we are in the post molecular era where we are using cutting edge technology to present a dish.
I like to call what we do ‘progressive cuisine’-- the creation of food that is highly creative, not limited by geography and incorporates the best of multiple cultures. It is the future. We have a deep respect for traditional cuisines but we like to innovate keeping its essence and feel it is necessary to push the envelope where the experience of dining is concerned.
The Kalras love to innovate!
You were a judge for the fifth season of MasterChef India- how was the experience?
It was a great experience and introduced me to the amazing level of cooking talent that we have in India. The participants were all so passionate about their cooking and wanted to open their own restaurants. The show gave them a chance to show their skills.
Do you feel the Indian palate has changed and what tickles your own palate right now?
With Indians travelling more, their palate is becoming sophisticated. They have experienced new flavours and they want to find the same experience here at home. I feel they want to be surprised so they are appreciative of innovation. I think it’s time also for regional Indian food to come to the fore, cuisine from saying Rampur or the Northeast, the smoked meats and black rice are exciting new culinary adventures and people are yet to experience these treasures. Japanese cuisine excites me greatly too.
Apart from food and restaurants, what else do you do?
Opening restaurants is what I do. It leaves me little spare time but whenever I can, I like spending time with family, playing golf and racing on the Buddh International Circuit in Noida!Read More