When Malaka Spice first opened in Pune years ago, it set a trend of sorts. It was the first restaurant to serve South East Asian cuisine and became a favorite haunt of many. Although there are several eateries that do south East Asian food in Pune today, Malaka Spice still has the old time regulars along with a whole new guest list which swears by the food. The restaurant has since gone from strength to strength over the years maintaining the superior food quality and has also ventured into delivery all over Pune. I recently received a feast of a meal at home from this iconic restaurant and it was as delicious as ever with several interesting choices for both vegetarians and lovers of meat/seafood. With restaurants and cloud kitchens in four locations of the city, the group has spread its wings all over Pune, hence making it possible to serve the legendary recipes to a vast number of guests! In this feature we speak to Chef Manjit Singh, Executive Chef, Malaka Spice about his favorite ingredients, comfort food, his favourite place to dine and much more! Read on !
Do you have a favourite time of year or set of ingredients that you look forward to working with?
Spring and summer since we get many exotic and popular seasonal produce around this time such as mangoes, water apple etc. I like to experiment with these ingredients I can source during summer from our very own Cherish Farm such as water apple, star fruit, mulberry, chikoo, guava, white ash gourd and more!
What would you do if you weren’t a chef?
Probably I would have become an engineer if I wasn’t a chef.
Do your personal preferences influence the menu at all?
Yes of course. As a chef that is bound to happen. But here at Malaka Spice, every time we experiment or come up with new recipes, these are tried and tested by the internal team as well as sometimes by an external taste panel who shares their feedback. All of this feedback is put together in a constructive manner to then make any changes to the recipe (if suggested) or to go ahead and add the new recipe into the menu (if approved). So at the end of the day, it becomes a team decision which works very well!
What do you think is the most over-hyped food trend currently?
The trend of fast food and of making everything in minutes.
When are you happiest?
When I am with my children.
When you’re not in the kitchen where can you be found?
Probably on the floor in the restaurant interacting with guests.
which is your favourite place to dine?
I have some fond memories of dining at Benihana making it my favourite place to dine at.
What’s your favourite takeaway or comfort food?
It would be our Malaka Spice Phad Thai Noodles and Sushi.
What makes the local food scene so exciting?
Lots of new eateries coming in, food focused restaurants that don’t shy from experimenting with various cuisines and interesting concepts.
Which is the dish you’ve created that you are most proud of and why?
That would be the Char Sui Sauce Prawns which is a recipe from our newly launched menu at Won China which is our Chinese cuisine cloud kitchen brand. It is a seafood recipe with Asian flavours. A must try.
You’re having friends over for dinner tonight. What’s on the table?
Lots of beer and wine, chicken wings, chilli garlic noodles and an assortment of nuts.
Name your favourite city that has it all: food, culture, and nightlife.
New Delhi, Mumbai and Liverpool
Can you tell us more about the cuisine at your restaurants?
We at Malaka Spice serve Inspired Southeast Asian Cuisine. So each meal that you have at Malaka Spice is a result of many culinary tours taken in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan and Cambodia. A lot of time was spent exploring the local kitchens in these countries followed by our own innovations, cooking and tasting conducted over and over again to bring to you the perfect creative twist on your plate!
We truly believe and follow the concept of Farm to Table. Most of the produce used in our recipes is sourced from our very own Cherish Farm, which is about 45 kms from Pune. Not just this, we use Cold Pressed Oil in the preparation of all our recipes (except those that have to be deep fried), thus making every meal experience at Malaka Spice soulful and beautiful!