Chef Anirudh Arora reveals his top tips on how to make your ingredients sing - in association with BRITA Professional

The  Staff Canteen

Delhi born chef, Anirudh Arora, a former protégé of Michelin-starred chef, Atul Kochhar, brings the tastes of the East to the UK with his two restaurants, Nirvana Kitchen and Hankies, which combine authentic flavours with modern techniques to create a fresh approach to Indian and Asian delicacies.

The Staff Canteen spoke to Ani about using fresh ingredients, how water filtration can impact on their quality and educating his staff on correct procedures.

Nirvana Restaurant - Moment Hunter Digital Photoshoot (11)

Nirvana Restaurant -  

Moment Hunter Digital Photoshoot 

Ani’s foray into the culinary world came about by accident. Cutting school to take a trip to the cinema, Ani realised he couldn’t afford the ticket and instead found himself at a street vendor using his money to buy chicken legs, which he later fried up with onions and garlic. It was at this moment that Ani knew he’d found his calling and 10 years later he was cooking for the prime minister.

Ani’s career took him to London, and Atul Kochhar’s Michelin-starred Benares. He headed up the kitchen at the award winning Moti Mahal before launching his own restaurants.

Nirvana Kitchen, drawing inspiration from Ani's travels around Asia, is described as London’s first ‘New Asian’ restaurant combining South East and Pan Asian dishes to create an eclectic menu and a true taste of the East. While Hankies is a fun and upbeat Indian street food-inspired restaurant showcasing classic Indian Roti that are hand spun and folded to create a ‘hanky’ like appearance.

Describing his food style as, “a mixture of modern techniques and ideas, combined with classic flavour combinations”, Ani’s roots are firmly set in India but admits his love for travelling has influenced his use of flavour combinations and plating style.

At both restaurants, Ani relies heavily on seasonality, freshness and storage when it comes to getting the best out of his ingredients.

“I always believe in ordering seasonal and fresh ingredients and that’s how I like them to be in my kitchen. I hate seeing waste so I really try to make good use of every part of every ingredient,” explains Ani.

Moment Hunter Digital Food Photography   Nirvana Kitchen (119)

Nirvana baby chicken marinated in mint miso

and served with garlic crisps

and puy lentil salsa 

Ani also enjoys using lots of herbs and spices in his cooking but only as a way to enhance the dish as too much seasoning is a distraction from the main event.

He says: “Meats like lamb or venison are strong and punchy so they can take much bolder flavours than say a subtle piece of fish or chicken.”

Top of his list of all-time favourite ingredients are truffles, “They are the ultimate food luxury” says Ani, “they’re great to use in pan-Asian dishes as they give amazing flavour and have the wow factor.”

But how does Ani make these ingredients ‘sing’? He reveals one of his secrets – optimised water through regularly maintained filtration. A survey conducted by the leading brand in water filtration, BRITA Professional, and the Craft Guild of Chefs revealed that more than half of the chefs surveyed weren’t aware that water filters needed changing regularly – something Ani thinks most operators should know about, as maintained water filtration protects equipment from scale build-up, and keeps food at its best.

He says: “We need water for various purposes in the kitchen: as a food ingredient, washing and rinsing, and in cooking processes like boiling and steaming.”

A problem for most operators is that the filter is often hidden away behind equipment or under the counter, which increases the risk of it being forgotten. To help chefs, BRITA filters have a digital display that monitors water usage so that it’s clear when the cartridge needs replacing. And with BRITA’s new FilterManager app delivering a timely alert when a filter change is approaching, you can wave goodbye to overdue cartridge replacements altogether.

Ani says: “We have good systems in place to keep a check, however the BRITA filter digital display is a great idea as it allows me to see at a glance when a cartridge needs replacing.”

Ani and his Nirvana Kitchen team have made a home at The Montcalm Hotel, sharing a site and good housekeeping practices, which include ensuring their water filter is maintained.

“We have a proper filtration process in place and ongoing quality checks happen – it removes particles in water that affect the taste, freshness and aroma of food.”

Fact   Chefs arent awareAlthough Ani maintains good practices, water treatment can still get overlooked in a busy kitchen environment, which is why he stresses the importance of training to understand how water filtration affects kitchen performance.

Ani says: “Often, water treatment can be overlooked in a commercial kitchen and taken for granted. Fortunately, we have a good system in place so it’s not a worry but education is definitely needed in the industry.”

Optimised water helps you get the best out of your ingredients and ensures that equipment is protected from scale to extend its lifetime, so repair costs are kept to a minimum and downtime is eliminated. Yet recent research carried out by BRITA showed that although 68% of chefs knew that a combi oven needs to be installed with a water treatment system, over a third (34%) of them didn’t know why.

When asked about the impact using BRITA’s PURITY C Steam filter has on the quality of his ingredients, he said: “You can really see the difference in the appearance and taste of the food with the filter – the colours are more vibrant, and it stops flavours bleeding so you can cook pastry dishes straight after fish without worrying. But it’s not enough to simply have it installed. Daily cleaning and regular servicing is vital to ensure it’s working efficiently.”

With the knowledge that he’s getting the highest performance out of his equipment, Ani can concentrate on dishing up the fresh, modern and authentic Pan-Asian cuisine he’s known for, and continue to serve his customers, “something they can’t get anywhere else, be that a unique colour or flavour combination”.

Read more about BRITA Professional and the perfect water filtration solution by visiting the BRITA website here

>>> Read more editorial and advertorials here

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 29th June 2017

Chef Anirudh Arora reveals his top tips on how to make your ingredients sing - in association with BRITA Professional