India is just amazing. Eight months ago, I made my first trip to this wonderful country and I am already back on my fourth. I love eating out here. I love that if you close your eyes, you can taste authentic flavours but when you open them, the dish looks stunningly different from what you would imagine. On all my trips here, I try and visit new restaurants and try dishes I have not eaten earlier.
The biggest surprise for me was that I went from old Delhi’s Karim to Indian Accent in a span of 24 hours. I loved them both. The fact is that India has a range and diversity that is fabulous. I love the passion people put into the food and can relate to it. It was during one of my trips here when I met Ashish Kapoor, a restaurateur from Delhi. He runs a number of restaurants in the city and we got along really well. I did not think much of our meeting and went back to Australia soon after. One day, I got a call from him and he said,
“Sarah, I am standing at this absolutely stunning location in Goa and I want you to do a restaurant here with us.” I told him he was crazy but kept an open mind and flew over to Goa. When I saw the property, I was blown away and thought to myself that I could see myself doing this. I could make this happen. The concept they had for the space fit in perfectly with my style of cooking. I have grown up in the Great Barrier Reef so the lifestyle is similar, both places thrive on sea food and the tropical weather is similar in both places as well. There was no looking back and we decided to collaborate on Antares, which we have just launched in Vagator, Goa.
It has been a good process working with different people as it helps me play with flavours and balance my dishes. I am looking at the creative side of things and the food remains my key focus. At Antares, we will be serving Australian cuisine with hints of Asian as I have been influenced by that. Being a young country, Australian cuisine is relatively new, so I am using the techniques I know best and banking on local produce to bring the menu together. There are hints of India, Asia as well.
Favourite Indian ingredients
At the Goa restaurant, food will be created using modern techniques and the presentation will also be in sync with it. The 250-cover restaurant is located on a stunning cliff, right by the Greek space Thalassa. I wanted the menu to be fresh, since it is a beach side property with cool cocktails, a charcoal grill, wood fire pizza and tapas-style short eats.We went to the local fish market in Goa and the quality of produce I found was quite amazing. They literally catch the fish in the morning and sell it in the evening. You really can’t get fresher than that. I plan to use local Alphonso mangoes, lots of spices, and local ingredients like kokum which I am new to as well. We plan to have lots of Australian dishes with a twist on the menu, like pies and pavlovas.
Top food trends
Currently, the biggest food trend in Australia is to cook seasonally. This is better for you and the food is definitely tastier. A lot of countries are starting to adopt the same philosophy and are concerned about fresh produce, and the supply chain of ingredients. In that sense, Australia is very advanced and you have to state the origin of ingredients on the menu itself. I see this happening in India now as well as I called up a producer of micro herbs for the Goa restaurant and he told me, “You will have to find a local supplier as we don’t ship all the way to Goa.” Food trucks also became big last year. In fact, in Melbourne, we have small open areas where they pull up, set up tables and ride away. People really enjoy eating here.