India has been the breeding ground for exceptionally talented chefs who have made a global impact, earning Michelin stars while promoting Indian cuisine. Indian culinary traditions, ingredients, and techniques are iconic in their own right. A chef who brings these flavours to the global stage is poised for success. Gujarat-based celebrity chef Aanal Kotak fits the bill perfectly as the restaurateur, and entrepreneur recently opened a branch of her popular restaurant The Secret Kitchen in Gujarat’s UNESCO city of Patan. The unusual choice of place was a long time coming, feels Aanal, 33.
“Patan boasts a wealth of cultural heritage, yet it has often been overlooked, despite its significant contributions to the nation’s history. While The Secret Kitchen has already established a strong presence in most major cities of Gujarat like Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat, etc., I believe my journey within the state will be truly fulfilled when TSK marks its foray in Patan,” said Aanal, who is the co-founder of TSK Hospitality LLP.
Gujarat-based celebrity chef Aanal Kotak fits the bill perfectly as the restauranter, entrepreneur, mother, and author opened a branch of her popular restaurant The Secret Kitchen in Gujarat’s UNESCO city of Patan (Source: PR Handout)
Aanal, who is also an author, is currently writing her second book, which delves into the history and culture of Gujarati cuisine, touted to be the first-ever book to explore the culinary heritage of Gujarat.
Aanal’s culinary career started at the age of 20 when she earned the title of ‘Youngest Chef in Gujarat’. “I embarked on my culinary adventure during my senior kindergarten years, experimenting with making theplas while my mother was away,” recollected Aanal, who became the youngest culinary expert to feature on Gujarat’s The Rasoi Show.
Among her signature dishes, you’ll find Mug Dhokla, Dhokla Fondue, Anjar ka Samosa (also known as Caged Samosa), and Dadi Maa’s Platter. “My grandmother, mother, and masi have been my foremost sources of inspiration, molding my passion for cooking. In my professional journey, chefs Vikas Khanna and Ranvir Brar have served as significant influences,” she shared.
Within the realm of culinary arts, her goal is to promote Indian cuisine, with a special focus on the traditional Gujarati Thali. “It is a widely held belief that a well-rounded meal should encompass all seven rasas, and the Gujarati Thali is the only one offering this diverse range of flavours. Consequently, I aspire to celebrate this iconic thali and bring attention to other underrated dishes within Indian cuisine,” Aanal expressed.
Interestingly, she was featured on MasterChef India Season 7 this year as a celebrity chef guest representing Gujarat. “It sends shivers down my spine. It was an incredible platform. I had the honour of being a celebrity guest representing Gujarat. We prepared a variety of dishes, including Ghughara, a renowned Gujarati delicacy, and Ghewar with Caramelised Fruits and Pan-flavoured Rabri. The MasterChef judges were enamored by these creations, and the experience of preparing these dishes on the show was truly remarkable,” she reminisced.
As someone who is extremely delighted when she dons the chef’s coat or baker’s hat — which according to her are her “stress relievers”, Aanal feels that during her ten-year journey, she has gained valuable insights. “One of them is that as you pursue success, there will be those who try to impede your progress. However, my unwavering passion is the force that keeps me resilient amidst the challenges of the market. I’ve also come to recognise the significance of staying contemporary, as a chef, constantly experimenting and introducing innovative dishes,” said Aanal. Patan boasts a wealth of cultural heritage, says Aanal (Source: PR Handout)
Apart from The Secret Kitchen, she owns other restaurants like SouthAk, The Baking Couture, and an FMCG brand TSK.
To stand apart, it made her “prioritise every aspect of the dining experience, including food, ambiance, taste, and presentation”.
For example, at SouthAk, one of my restaurant brands, we serve food on steel plates shaped like banana leaves and provide an array of condiments to enhance the dining experience,” described Aanal.
Source : Indian Express