Avni Biyani, Concept Head, Foodhall, Talks To Us On The Sidelines Of Releasing Foodhall’s First Cookbook
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Avni Biyani’s concept of opening a high-end grocery store in the form of Foodhall seems to have caught the fancy of expats, avid travellers and experimental cuisine enthusiasts who are sure to find rare food items and a slice of unexpected culinary adventures at the high-end store. With the release of Foodhall’s first cookbook featuring recipes from renowned chefs such as Gresham Fernandes, Pooja Dhingra, Kelvin Cheung, Sabyasachi Gorai and Zorawar Kalra, Biyani spoke to Living Foodz about the cookbook and more. Edited excerpts: 

1.       How did the idea for the Foodhall cookbook come about?

After years of being a destination and an experience that provides world-class ingredients spanning various cuisines, we have created a cookbook that is an amalgamation of our thoughts, vision, and never-ending love for food. To celebrate this beautiful relationship with food, we have collected and curated recipes that take you around the world, as you flip through these pages.

2.       How did you zero in on the five chefs featured in the book?

Through Foodhall, we understood that customers love these five cuisines. And the five Chefs are the experts in these cuisines. We are glad that they agreed to this collaboration and were able to take out so much time to create these special recipes. All the chefs are unique in their own way so the kind of recipes that kept coming in from them were all so fantastic that it was hard to shortlist the final ones. They have spent a lot of time creating these recipes and we are really overwhelmed with the final outcome.

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3.       What are your expectations from this cookbook? 

We are really excited about the fact that customers who buy the Cookbook will take it home and it shall become a part of their daily life. In a way, Foodhall becomes a part of their daily life and that feeling is incredible.

4.       How did the experience of running Foodhall help in delivering this book?

We have spent a lot of time on the shop floor and tried to understand customer preferences and how they buy ingredients. Having gone through that process, it was easier for us to put that understanding into the book.


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5.       The cookbook has a lot of foreign dishes. How easy or difficult is it to make these dishes for amateur chefs?
Each recipe in this book is created keeping in mind a home cook. Today we see a steep rise in home cooks aspiring to create more restaurant style dishes at home. This book feeds that need. I personally think that despite having so many international dishes, this book is very familiar. The ingredients are easily available at our stores and our audience is in the know of international cuisines. Right from paprika to miso, home cooks these days know their food.

6.       Please name five of the easiest and five of the toughest dishes from the cookbook, according to you.

Easiest:

Falooda inspired rose chia pudding
Mezze Platter
Chorizo Pulao
Pumpkin Congee
Butter Bean Crostini

 Toughest:

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Dark Chocolate Fondant
Spiced Macarons
Seafood Risotto – because it’s a risotto!
Mango Sticky Rice with miso Caramel – because caramel is hard enough and here we need to make miso caramel!

Lamb Shank Nihari

7.       What cuisine categories attract the maximum audience in India?

European and Asian food have always seemed to attract Indians the most.

8.       What culinary needs/ requirements do you think Indians need to be more aware of?
Indians are more experimental in terms of food. However, the cooking style of Indians is really different in comparison to European styles. In Western food, less is more. Indians need to keep that in mind while cooking different cuisines.


9.       What do you generally think of the cookbook scene in India?
The cookbook scene in India is really growing. We have seen that customers put a lot of effort buying them and then trying out the recipes at home.

10.   What are some of the best cookbooks ever?

I would recommend Larousse Gastronomique, Ottolenghi: The Cookbook and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

11.   What food trends are reflected in the cookbook, if any?
One food trend that is reflected across the book is that boundaries between cuisines are blending. This is reflected in Pooja Dhingra’s Kesar Pista Cupcakes or Zorawar Kalra’s Avocado Papdi Chaat.

12.   Are there more cookbooks in the pipeline?

We may launch more cookbooks in the near future.


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