He harboured a dream and made it grand. He is passionate about gastronomy and lives every day refining his culinary skills, and redefining his cooking style. Say hello to Chef Saransh Goila, the Delhi boy who wears the butter chicken badge on his chef’s coat with pride, in an age where Indian chefs are trying to take the spotlight off it (regional cuisine, ahoy!). DSSC engages the chef who represents India’s youth in a gustatory tête-à-tête.
Goila has travelled the length and the breadth of the country in search of indigenous dishes and cooking styles and showcased them on television. He is the author of India On My Platter, a book, in which he pens these experiences. From being listed in the Limca Book of Records for undertaking the ‘longest road journey by a chef’ for the TV show Roti Rasta Aur India, and running the very successful delivery and takeaway service Goila Butter Chicken (GBC), his culinary journey inspires many. “I am majorly driven by the fact that I have a great opportunity as a young chef to change the way chefs are looked upon in India — whether it is their pay structure or simply the respect these professionals should get,” tells the chef who adorns multiple hats with ease. Earlier this year, he gave Indian epicures a moment to rejoice, upon being invited as a guest judge on MasterChef Australia, where the contestants cooked his version of Butter Chicken. We ask him about the experience and he sums it up in just a word, ‘fantastic’. He goes on to share, “It was a great opportunity to showcase myself, Goila Butter Chicken, and Indian food, all in a go. I held the stage to showcase how a dish like butter chicken, which people find easy to prepare, is actually difficult to master. That is what I wanted to achieve from the trip to Australia and by being a guest judge on the show.” The young Saransh always dreamt of being successful in the field he chose. “It was quite a matter of pride and was amazing to see how my fans and followers in India took so much joy and pride in me being on the show,” he tells.
Our rendezvous makes us reminisce the days when Goila, hailing from a vegetarian Marwari family, was conducting endless recipe trials and hosting butter chicken nights. There was constant chatter on Twitter about #GoilaButterChicken even before the concept took off. “The secret behind Goila Butter Chicken is the fact that I and my partner Vivek Sahni are both really passionate about the product. We have taken an age-old dish, and given it a new identity,” says Goila, when we ask him about the secret sauce behind GBC and other home-style recipes from his kitchen. “It also kind of drives us day in and day out to promote GBC in different parts of the world. Our passion and the consistency of the product make it successful,” he shares. We quiz the chef about his learnings from the logistics and operations of a takeaway business, and he replies, “We live in an era where we can co-work so it is important to have a good relationship with the aggregators. After working closely with so many food aggregators and delivery apps, I have realized that we don’t have to do everything in-house. We can be on these platforms and leverage them to promote our product. We as chefs are good with our product, and we can leave logistics to people who are experts at that.” Point taken. We proceed to ask the chef his views on the very price-sensitive delivery market, and he says, “The price point does not always match the quality of the product. I feel it is very important for everyone entering the delivery segment to remember that while you’d be excellent with your product, the market is still growing. The clientele are still adapting to the fact that delivery places can also serve restaurant-style food.” “While some are ready to pay a premium for that, it will take some time for the market to build up so you have to be wary of your price point when you are entering this market,” he forewarns.
Reflecting on his culinary journey, Goila shares his aspirations, “A short term goal is to make sure that Goila Butter Chicken becomes a pan-India brand. I also want to take Sadak Chef to different parts of India. As a long-term goal he wishes to “not just innovate in the kitchen but also help in improving the current work conditions of fellow chefs in the industry.” Later in his career, the chef envisions owning a fine dining restaurant of his own. Always being surrounded by good food also amounts to piling up a lot of calories. It helps then, that Goila is extremely passionate about fitness. “My fitness mantra is to have a balanced diet and exercise every day without fail. With the uncertain hours that my work commands, I took to running as it does not require me to have a set time or routine. I can choose to be in any city and still go for a short run to keep myself fit,” says the full marathon runner, who relishes his hot chocolate, gulab jamuns, and rajma chawal with a dollop of ghee.
Upon hearing these well-sculpted thoughts, we throw a naan bomb (a must-try from the GBC menu) at him — the heated Mumbai vs Delhi food debate; which is better, we ask, and pat comes the reply, “I would say that Delhi is a better food destination. It is the food capital of India where they serve everything from street food to fine dining and they make sure that it is delicious and done just the way it should be. A few of my favourite places in Delhi to eat at are Raju Chaat Bhandar for chaat and Indian Accent for a fine dining meal. On the other hand, in Mumbai, I love Bombay Canteen for their regional Indian Food. There is also this vada pav place in Apna Bazaar, Andheri West which I feel is fantastic.”
The curtains will soon be drawn on 2018, and we are curious to know what according to Goila will some of the biggest culinary trends of 2019 be. “The regional Indian cuisine wave will ride strong. We will also see a lot of Assamese and Bihari food pop-ups this year,” he says. Our forecast? GBC will make a smashing entry into the capital’s culinary charts by mid-2019. Watch out!
This conversation is a part of the DSSC Secret Conversation Series, where we get candid with the ace industry disruptors who map its course one masterstroke at a time.