Chef Sheik Mohideen is a culinary artist who believes in tracing roots and recreating them to preserve age-old methods, traditions and culture through classic ancient recipes. Sheik had a love affair with culinary arts from a very young age and loved to hang around his mother while she was cooking. He went on to pursue BSc in Hotel Management from Cherraans Arts and Science College. The Avarai Paruppu Saadam, one of the signature dishes at Savya Rasa, is the recipe he has learnt from his mother and he loves to cook it and present it with lot of pride.
During his college days, Sheik was part of a research team for developing recipes for Kongunadu cuisine under the tutelage of Chef Jacob. The project allowed him to discover his hidden desire and talent in curating menus by rediscovering forgotten and lost traditions and cultures. After graduation, he got a break as a Hotel Operational Trainee at the Ambassador Pallava in Chennai for a year and then moved on as the South Indian CDP in-charge at the WelcomHotel in Vadodara.
In 2008 he grabbed a great opportunity to work with Chef Jacob, his idol, at Jacob’s Kitchen in Chennai and honed his skills in South Indian cooking. Over the next five years working with Chef Jacob, his passion for regional South Indian cuisine developed and Sheik began to experiment and compile recipes.
In a candid conversation, he talks about himself and his work:
How do you define yourself?
A passionate individual; keen about rediscovering ancient cooking techniques; an avid traveller who enjoys meeting new people and rediscovering forgotten recipes and traditions from different regions of the world.
Philosophy on food
I believe in using farm-fresh ingredients to enhance the amalgamation of all the flavours in my dishes. I am an adherent of authentic techniques.
Being a South Indian, my heart lies in the flavours and dishes that originate from my region.
Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni, a Guinness Award winner as a custodian of the ebbing cuisines of Southern India who was my Head of Department in college. I also worked with him as the co-consultant for setting up several brands.
Kal Pasi – dry lichen which is extensively used in Chettinad cuisine for its unique flavour.
Though there are several star dishes in my menu, Bun Parotta is the most requested for.
Lessons learnt in the kitchen
Respecting the unique and rare ingredients that nature has to offer which allow me to infuse the authentic flavours in all my dishes; creating a sustainable environment for a better future.
How do you de-stress?
There isn’t much free time but I de-stress by watching stand-up comedy and cooking shows; looking out for new recipes.
What are you most passionate about?
Spreading happiness through my cooking and curating an authentic and unique menu with forgotten dishes that are destined to leave an everlasting impact on the guests.
Last meal on earth?
South Indian biryani
Elaneer pudding recipe
A dessert low in calories; so light that it melts in your mouth immediately, giving the impression that you’re having tender coconut water. Light and soft tender coconut water pudding, set with china grass – a delicacy from Thannur from Moplah regions of Kerala.
Tender coconut water – 1 ltr
China grass (Agar Agar) – 10 gm
Sugar – 1 cup
Tender coconut flesh – 1 cup
Take the tender coconut water and strain it.
Powder the China grass along with the sugar.
Cut the tender coconut flesh into thin strips.
In a deep vessel, mix the tender coconut water and China grass till the sugar and china grass gets dissolved. Cook the tender coconut water till it reaches boiling point. Pour the liquid in moulds or small bowls and add strips of tender coconut on the top.
Allow the liquid to become cool and put it in the refrigerator to get set for around 30 minutes.
Once removed from the refrigerator, invert the mould over the serving plate and pat gently to demould the pudding. Enjoy!