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From veggies to emojis, these are chef Prateek Sadhu’s favourites | Condé Nast Traveller India | India


In our series #CommunityTable, tastemakers from India and around the globe celebrate their favourite restaurants, veggie meals and ingredients. Chef Prateek Sadhu, the brains behind the wildly inventive Masque—one of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants—picks his favourites: from veggies to emojis.

What’s the best vegetarian dish you’ve ever eaten? 

My favourite vegetarian dish is one called sochal wangun, a Kashmiri preparation of sochal (mallow leaves) and eggplant cooked with mustard oil, hing and chillies. I love eggplant and any kind of leafy greens, which grow in abundance back home in Kashmir.

What’s your favourite vegetarian ingredient? Why?

We’re spoilt for choice in India. It’s hard to pick just one, but I always gravitate towards leafy greens, specifically those from Kashmir–from dandelion and mallow leaves to purslane and varieties of haakh (or seasonal greens), which is always a staple in my mum’s kitchen. They have such distinct flavours through the seasons, whether sour, grassy, or bitter–I’m obsessive!

Which vegetarian dish would you recommend on your menu?

We reopened the doors to Masque recently, and one of my favourites from our new menu is a dish of jalpai, sweet potato and black carrots. The jalpai fruit is often referred to as the Indian olive, similar in appearance and structure. Ours are sourced from Bengal; we make a chutney out of it, which is paired with roasted purple and orange sweet potatoes and a mustard sauce. That’s topped with fermented, dried, and powdered mustard leaves–a process that we found gives them a flavour much like nori. The course is served with homemade black carrot kanji. Jalpai is quite an under-utilized fruit, and that, along with this new avatar of mustard leaves, is really exciting to me.

The banana ruled 2020. If you had to pick a vegetable/fruit for 2021, which one would it be and why?

Persimmon! It’s really underrated in India, and such a versatile fruit. There’s so much you can do with it, though it’s delicious on its own; we’ve used it fresh, juiced, and even aged, where it begins to taste like something almost toffee or date-like.

What’s your favourite dish/ preparation to whip up with a vegetable?

I cook a lot of greens at home. Right now, I’m most often cooking mustard leaves with fresh chillies, hing and salt.

What’s your favourite vegetable emoji?

Must I?! Eggplant it is.

The most underrated vegetable in your opinion? And any you despise?

They’re fruits, but jalpai and persimmon both! I generally have no qualms eating anything, but I truly cannot stand bell peppers. The flavour just doesn’t make any sense to me–it almost feels like such a waste of a pepper.

Has there ever been a vegetable that surprised you with its depth of flavour?

Not sure if it fits the bill, but I’d say ponkh, which I was only properly exposed to after moving to Mumbai. The seasonal, tender jowar is just so delicious and so versatile. Recently, at a friend’s home, I tried another variety too–it was young wheat, but also referred to as ponkh, and a total revelation to me–extremely sweet and with so much flavour.





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Updated: April 8, 2021 — 10:22 am

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