World Chefs: Ramaiah's food craving leads to new career

Tue Jul 14, 2009 4:13pm EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Cravings for the street food of her childhood in India and a newspaper article about fast food franchises convinced Sunitha Ramaiah's to abandon a career as a corporate attorney to start her own restaurant.

Bombay Talkie, which opened four years ago in New York, showcases family recipes and her own twists on the street food she ate while living on her grandfather's tea estate in Ooty (Udhagamandalam) in southern India.

The 38-year-old, self-taught chef spoke to Reuters about Indian food and the inspirations she draws from her native land.

Q: What will people experience at your restaurant?

A: "It's a modern take on an Indian tea house. What I want people to come away with is the breadth of flavors that the cuisine has to offer. It's not the standard curry house recipes. Indian food can be light. It can be very simple. Not everything has to be cream-based sauces. You can do a lot with very little. That's the beauty of street food."

Q: What kind of trend are you seeing in Indian cuisine?

A: "In New York, for example, the first Indian restaurants were offering Panjabi dishes. Then you saw the trend in the 1990s this whole push for fusion. Now, I see people are exploring again that Indian food has a broad range but they are going for the simpler taste. They are going for the everyday food."

Q: How does this trend fit into our current economy?   Continued...

<p>Sunitha Ramaiah is seen in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Andres Rengifo Valencia/Handout</p>