A feisty 25-year-old millennial with an intense love for ghee roast, Shriya Shetty, a professional chef and baker conveys her intrinsic love for Mangalorean food with gusto: “My dad used to get chicken cutlets, dabelis, samosas and yummy snacks on his way back home every evening. As a family, we never travelled much, but when we did, it was always about food discoveries and not so much about touristy spots.” And this is where, we believe, Shetty’s tryst with food adventures began.
From taking up baking for fun in college to nurturing her love for food, Shetty, after pursuing a degree in commerce, turned to food fulltime in 2014. After a part-time course at Dadar catering and two professional stints— at Ellipsis, where she trained under chef Kelvin Cheung in Mumbai, and Bangkok-based Michelin-starrer Gaggan in Bangkok— Shetty moved to Mangaluru to learn her ancestral cooking. Her recent pop up called the ‘Shetty Lunch Home’ at Bombay Vintage in Colaba, Mumbai, is an attempt to showcase the diverse cuisine of Mangaluru. As we get Shetty to spill the beans on her classic chicken ghee roast, we dug up another heritage Shetty recipe and a lot more about her millennial food journey.
Being a Chef
Speaking about the existing gender stereotypes in commercial kitchens, Shetty says, “Back then, chefs used to snigger at girls who wanted to try their hands inside the hot kitchen; girls were meant to stick to the pastry and bakery sections. The kitchen was largely considered to be a male bastion; it was largely about high temperatures, heat, burns and girls were assumed to be too ‘delicate’ or ‘dainty’ to be handling that successfully.” But that didn’t deter Shetty. All she could think about was getting her hands dirty, and she ended up working long hours and double shifts at her pastry and breads station at Ellipsis to break free from this gender stereotype.
Mention Pupkins, a three-year-old venture in Mangalore, she started with her partner Varun Shetty and it’s hard to miss her coy smile. The bakery specialises in delivery of cakes, freshly baked bread and even savoury delights on demand. She claims to be a savoury person who started baking to introduce some new delights into the traditional Manglorean market. “The whole concept of Pupkins came from this observation; Varun and I quickly realised that there were hardly any good bakeries in Mangalore and given the huge demand for desserts, we saw great potential in this segment. Mangaluru is still not prepared for the level of experimentation in food that is seen in cities like Mumbai or Bengaluru,” she adds.
To add a fun twist to food, Varun and Shriya also hosted a literary food pop up—a Game of Thrones inspired dinner at Mangalore—which was curated keeping in mind the various characters and their emotions. Sweet Morsel, a dish inspired by the description of Sansa falling in love with Jeoffry. Another dish called King Robert is a balsamic roast pork with pickled star fruit and radish. They recreated The Red Wedding, which killed most of the starks, which is a Chicken liver poached in beetroot juice with beetroot puree and chilly oil. This pop-up dinner was a 12 course sit down meal and received great response from the locals. Recently, Shetty also partners with writer Shirin Mehrotra for The Literary Table, a pop-up series, in an effort to bring together bibliophiles and gourmands. Shetty conceptualised the menu for a Harry Potter and a Murakami themed dinner in Mumbai.
Mangalore on a Plate
So, what is it about the ‘Shetty Lunch Home’ menu at Bombay Vintage that stands apart and rings in her experience of eating and living in Mangalore for three years? “I’ve tried to keep the flavours as simple and close to the roots as possible. The ghee roast is one special dish that I have tried to perfect after putting in a lot of passion and hard work.” Speaking about her efforts, Shetty says, “We started our research on the famous Ghee Roast back in 2016. My curiosity about this dish peaked when I ate at a lunch home in Kundapur on the outskirts of Mangalore, the flavours were mind blowing. I had eaten ghee roast at various lunch homes in the city but absolutely nothing came close to this one!” When Shetty couldn’t get her hands on this closely guarded recipe, she began curating her own recipe. Chicken Ghee Roast, as a dish, is not a home-cooked one but a restaurant dish that was essentially invented around 30 years ago. “The chicken is slow roasted on fire and served with neer dosa. So, when we finalised our recipe after multiple sessions of trial and error, I decided to serve it as an ode to the city I grew up in and have loved always—Bombay.”
If you are headed to this pop up at Bombay Vintage to savour the Mangalorean feast and still have room for some sweet, try out the Jackfruit Payasam ice-cream. A modern twist to the traditional Payasam recipe, Shetty serves this with a drizzle of pickle puree. Quiz her about the idea behind this uncanny combination, and she says, “The pickle that is served on the traditional banana leaf tends to get mixed with every other dish on the leaf, including the dessert that is served at the end on the very same leaf in temples. While these flavours might seem peculiar, the fact that they blend well has been the traditional way of consuming a set meal and that hasn’t changed for decades.” With many such unusual combinations and flavours, this meal is Shetty’s way to bring quintessential temple flavours and the classic temple style of dining to restaurants to relive her Mangalore days.
Also Read: The Ultimate Guide to Making Vegan Icecream
The Shetty Lunch Home Menu is available at Bombay Vintage in Colaba till the 31st of July.
From Shetty’s Kitchen (A family recipe that has been passed on to Shetty by her father)
Daddy’s Green Chicken Curry Recipe
1 kg chicken (marinated in ginger garlic paste, salt and turmeric for at least
For the Paste:
1 cup coriander leaves
1 cup mint leaves
4 garlic pods
2 green chilies
½ cup soaked cashew.
For the curry:
2 onions, sliced
1 bay leaf
10-12 whole peppercorns
2 tbsp. ghee
Grind all the ingredients for the paste together into a fine paste and set aside.
Heat ghee in a kadhai.
Add the bay leaf, cloves and peppercorns and stir for 1-2 minutes or till fragrant.
Add the onions to the kadhai and fry until they have browned nicely.
Add the chicken and sear for 3-4 minutes.
Add the green paste and 500 ml of water and bring the curry to a boil on high heat.
Add salt to taste
Reduce the heat to low and allow the curry to simmer until the chicken is cooked perfectly.
Serve with bread and a squeeze of lime!
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