Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 83, Tuesday, September 8, 2009



Lifestyle Special

Take home chef
culinary passion

The fasting...the traffic...the expenses. Any of these, or quite possibly, all of these reasons together may just be why you cannot indulge in fine dining as often as you'd like to. What if we told you that you could enjoy a five-star meal in the comfort of your home, cooked up from the stuff you have in the fridge? Yes, it is possible. And to show you how, we borrowed a chef from The Westin, Dhaka, and had him whip up some surprisingly snappy treats using ingredients from an everyday kitchen. This week, we're sharing the recipes with you

In a sea of foreign faces wielding the wok at the swanky eateries and upscale restaurants, Simon Gomes graces Splash, the poolside restaurant at The Westin, Dhaka. Specialising in Mexican and Italian cuisine, Gomes holds his own at one of the most exclusive haute cuisine hotspots in town.

Not that this distinction was easily attained; at only 28, he has already spent a large proportion of his life learning and honing his trade. “I took Parjatan's culinary course in 1997. After serving an attachment in Sheraton for a year, I went to Dubai, where over the course of six years, I worked in three different five-star hotels,” Gomes said of his early days in the profession. “After that a restaurant owner took me to London where I worked in World Steak House, where the focus was mainly on steaks.”

He then came back to Bangladesh in 2006, after which he went to Malaysia for the re-opening of a restaurant called Spitfire. He returned within a year and joined The Westin Dhaka, where he has now established himself as department-in-charge of Splash, having spent some time working in Prego, an Italian restaurant in the five-star hotel.

Talking to him, one gets a sense of the passion he feels for his trade. This, as he reveals, originates from his family's proud culinary tradition, one that is liberally spiced with intrigue. “When I was young my grandmother used to tell me how my grandfather rose quickly up the ranks to become the executive sous chef of Kolkata's Grand Hotel, and how jealousy at this fact prompted his colleagues to poison him,” he said.

“This happened in 1955, and my father, at the age of fifteen started working as a chef. When I was growing up he used to work at the Dhaka Sheraton. My brother and I used to spend most of our time in the kitchens of the hotel, and that is where I picked up my passion for cooking. I saw it as a creative exercise, and I used to, and still, love playing around with food to create something new and fresh. This may involve a fusion of cuisines; the key is to see cooking as a creative exercise.”

He considers himself an Italian specialist, although the wide range of his work experience renders him an expert in almost all types of cuisine. His personal favourite is Mexican food, although the Bangladeshi cuisine is never far away. He is also somewhat of a TV celebrity, having appeared in Channel I's Hari Karai Ranna Lorai.

Perhaps the saddest aspect of all this is that while we know that one of our own is cooking delicious cuisine in our very own city, very few of us have the luxury to go and try it on a regular basis. Despair not, because Star Lifestyle has brought you closer to the chef. Although we cannot take you to his house, which would be a foodie's delight considering the wealth of culinary expertise in the Gomes household, we can bring you the next best thing.

In an exclusive photo shoot for Star Lifestyle, Simon Gomes has prepared and provided the recipes of three dishes that are guaranteed to whet appetites for fine dining, so that our readers can bring a little of the five-star flavour into their homes.

Green chicken curry (Thai)
200 gm chicken (julienne)
30 gm onion
100 gm coriander paste
30 gm garlic
30 ml lemon juice
20 gm lemon (leaf)
20 gm lemon grass
10 gm salt
10 gm pepper
30 gm corn flour
30 ml oil
1 egg

Cut the chicken into julienne pieces. Mix the chicken with cornflour and egg, and deep fry. Add oil in a separate pan. When hot, add onions, garlic, coriander paste and stir well with salt and pepper. When the onions turn brown, add lemon grass, lemon leaf, and lemon juice. Add the deep fried chicken and marinade.

Mexican rice
500 gm rice (Bashmati)
50 gm tomato paste
50 gm fresh tomatoes
10 gm Cajun seasoning
50 gm sweet corn
10 gm salt
50 gm onion
20 gm garlic
10 gm chilli powder
30 ml olive oil
Pour the oil in the pan. When hot stir with onion and garlic, then add sweet corn, Cajun seasoning, fresh tomato paste and blended tomatoes, and chilli powder. Keep stirring. Lastly add cooked Bashmati rice and stir. Remove from fire after five minutes.

Carrot and rice pudding
200 gm carrot
100 gm rice
50 gm sugar
200 ml milk
10 gm raisin
5 gm bayleaf
5 gm cinnamon
10 gm cardamon
10 gm pistachio nuts
60 gm butter
30 gm fresh cream
Heat the butter in a pan, then add grated carrots and bay leaf, cinnamon and cardamom. Add sugar and milk after five minutes and cook until dry. Meanwhile, the rice has to be cooked separately with milk and a bit of sugar. Add this to the carrots. Add fresh cream and cook until dry, then remove from fire, and sprinkle pistachio nuts.

Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayeed
Models: Chef Simon Gomes, Simon Mansoor and Sasha Mansoor
Special thanks to The WESTIN, Dhaka, for allowing us to do the photoshoot with Chef Simon.
Special thanks to Simon Mansoor and Sasha Mansoor for welcoming us into their kitchen.

On The Cover

As if it ever went out of style. This week, we're toasting THE infallible colour of fashion, with tips on how to wear it and stay on top of the trends this season. Flip to the centre for the scoop.
Model: Sami
Wardrobe: Cat's Eye
Photo: Sayeed Siddiqui


Good Deed

Week Three
“A good deed a day, keeps bad luck at bay”

Donate some toys to an orphanage and help bring fun and laughter to the children's lives.

Feed some of the leftover meals to the stray dogs in your vicinity, for Islam is all about being kind towards all living things around you.

You can introduce a family Sadaqa project, where each of the family members contributes whatever amount of money possible each week and donate the accumulated amount to a needy family.

Refresh your memory on the virtues of Islam by reading some Islamic books.

Donate medicines to a free clinic and reap the benefits as the good deed returns as multifold blessings.

Send flowers and a thoughtful card to an old friend you lost touch with.

Be a guardian angel to a poor family for one day and buy groceries for a day.

By Wasia Mehnaz Minna




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