Chef chats: The inspiration behind Swadeshi - Sunda
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Chef chats: The inspiration behind Swadeshi

Come 18 and 19 March, we will be joining forces with Ahana Dutt of Sydney’s Raja for a four-hands dinner themed around Swadeshi – an exploration of the tribal foods of India. We sat down with Head Chef of Sunda, Nabil Ansari, and Ahana to find out more.


Portrait of Nabil


What is the inspiration behind Swadeshi?


Nabil: The inspiration comes from Ahana. When we were brainstorming concepts for this (the MFWF Global Dining Series), she mentioned Indian tribal food and I instantly said yes! During the preliminary research, I found it fascinating to come across so many dishes, some of which I haven’t heard of. It’s been so interesting working on these. Definitely a challenge and out of my comfort zone, but such a great way to explore more of our cuisine and culture.


Ahana: Tribal Indian food is something people don’t know about, and the event seemed like the perfect opportunity to explore those flavours and introduce them to others. We both have a strong ethos when it comes to how we create dishes. We are always authentic in our flavours, it’s important for us to champion small producers, and we are ingredient-driven. We just love to cook delicious food and feed people, and Swadeshi is a perfect theme to express this.



What dish are you most excited about on the menu?


Nabil: The Storm clam dish, which takes inspiration from the Kunbi tribe in Goa. There, they cook clams with braised onions, spices and mango powder. It’s described as a chowder with a lot of spices, and my take on it is to make a sauce from the spices used in Kunbi, mix it with mango powder and the cooking liquid from the clams, and garnish it with braised shallot petals.


Ahana: I would not be lying if I said all of them. We’re going far beyond the realm of Indian dishes that people know. A lot of the dishes don’t even sound Indian, but are very much so. If I had to choose, the smoked pork jowl snack, bread course, fish main and dessert are the ones I’m most excited to see executed.


A portrait image of Raja's Ahana Dutt


Are you doing anything new and different guests can’t get at your restaurants?


Nabil: Its very different to what we are doing at the moment at Sunda. Its a whole new offering, the dining experience is more elevated and the dishes are going to be more refined. Cooking bread on charcoal, cooking fish in banana leaf is something we’ve never attempted at Sunda, and we are looking forward to bringing this to our guests!


Ahana: Everything on our end is new and different. We have created a menu that maintains the integrity of the dishes and cooking techniques, but presents them in a way that you would see in hatted restaurants. To my friends, I have been saying that the menu is “posh”. It’s not what you would expect when you think of Indian food.



18 and 19 MARCH FROM 6PM
$234 PP – 8 courses