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Chef Aungshuman Chakraborty, Executive Chef, The Leela Mumbai

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Local food has a shorter time between harvest and your table, and it is less likely that the nutrient value has decreased, observes Chef Aungshuman Chakraborty, Executive Chef, The Leela Mumbai

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With the evolution of the food industry, local food in terms of locally procured ingredients and supplies has made a big impact. People have realised and have become more conscious about their social responsibilities and their contribution towards the society. Locally grown food creates important economic opportunities, provides health benefits and helps to reduce environmental impact. It also helps bring the community together and gives people the opportunity to make a difference.

Additionally, people now realise that locally procured food tastes better and lasts longer. They are full of flavour and taste better than the ones available in the winter that have travelled thousands of miles and picked before they were ripe. Local food has more nutrients. Local food has a shorter time between harvest and your table, and it is less likely that the nutrient value has decreased.

Curating menus at The Leela Mumbai using local ingredients

Now while I say that local food is important and we should use locally sourced ingredients and raw materials, I don’t mean that we should stick to typical Indian food. Now a Caesar salad made out of a locally grown Romaine is also a local. Using a local ‘Bekti’ fish instead a Chilean Sea bass also can be done. The focus is to bring to the guest the products as fresh as possible and conserving as much nutrition as possible and the only way to do that is to source the ingredients that are available locally. Hence while curating the menu at The Leela Mumbai, dishes that are made of locally procured raw materials and ingredients are given priority.

Jamavar, The Leela Mumbai

Given the fact that we cater to an audience who is well travelled, we offer the best of world cuisine as well. Hence, there are certain items that cannot be replaced for example Australian or New Zealand Lamb. Also certain European meat products have Protected Designation of Origin, like a Parma Ham or for that matter a Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

The one local ingredient your kitchen cannot do without

I myself am a fish eater and as I mentioned earlier that there is a huge difference between fresh and frozen seafood. So I always make sure that fresh fish are always available on our menus and while recommending also we always recommend a locally caught Pomfret or a Bekti over a Salmon or John Dory. Nothing against these two fishes, it’s just that fishes once frozen loses its flavour or rather let’s put it in this way – a fish which is not frozen always tastes better than the ones which are frozen. So to answer the question locally caught fish is something that you will always find in our kitchen.

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