As the fire slowly burns…

By: Sheryl Gonsalves

“Do you know how I come to know that the guests are happy? When I see their empty plates!” says Shibiraj Saha, Executive Chef of Holiday Inn Goa.

The journey of this well-seasoned chef with 24-25 years’ experience started as a child cooking with his mother. Whenever she cooked up a dish, he would rush to her side and ask her how to prepare it, even simple dishes like chutney. Years later, he is extremely glad that he chose to be a chef and has worked in reputed places like IHG, Hyatt, ITC, Sheraton, Taj Group of Hotels, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, Radisson, and Sarovar Group. 

So what is the cooking style of this consummate chef who has cooked in multiple large hotels? Very simple, homely food! He acknowledges that presentation is an important part of the eating experience but is proud of the fact that the taste of his dishes is very homely. Shibiraj says there are 2 words that embody being a chef – passion and creativity.

Caring, friendly, with a smile in his voice – This is what came to mind when I interacted with Chef Shibiraj. He loves meeting people and learning new things from everybody, even from his daughter. When he wakes up in the morning and puts on his chef coat and apron, he knows that being a chef is in his blood.  His inspiration? Happy guests! “When the guests give feedback saying ‘Chef that was excellent food’, it touches my heart and makes my day,” he reveals. When they have licked their plates clean, it tells him that they savoured the food which is super important to him. This makes his job satisfaction levels go through the roof.

The mouthwatering DumPukht & Awadhi cuisines of India are his specializations. DumPukht cuisine involves very slow cooking with meat, vegetables, and other ingredients. Chef Shibiraj loves the idea of slow cooking as it traps and enhances the rich flavour and aroma of the dish to tantalize people’s taste buds to the maximum. He enthusiastically told me that his favourite dish is mutton biryani which got me excited as it is one of my go-to dishes too! I was craving it for the rest of the day after our conversation.

As someone who appreciates slow cooking, it disheartens him when younger chefs just want to speed up everything and don’t want to follow the original recipe. “If a particular dish takes 2 hours to make, you have to spend the 2 hours,” he says. For example, in one of his previous jobs, they had Dal Bukhara on the menu which takes 48 hours to make. The dish has to be slowly cooked, one thing after another has to be maintained – it’s a long process. His wish is that young chefs learn how dishes have been originally made and follow those recipes.

At any hotel, demanding guests can’t be escaped. That’s when a chef has to rise to the occasion. It’s hard to satisfy everyone’s palettes. Some want more spice, some want less spice, and the list goes on… “The most important part of being a chef is to make everyone happy. That is the main challenge; it is a very challenging job. You’ve to understand the palette also,” says Chef Shibiraj.

Occasionally, people come to him and ask why he doesn’t try to become a GM or something else because of his years of experience. This is his answer: “I want to carry my journey as a chef only. As a chef, you’re innovative, you’re creative. A painter expresses on a canvas what is on his mind. For me, my white plate is my canvas where I can display the food.”

You Might Also Be Interested In

A Unique Urak Bar Crawl
Beloved Tisreo (clams) of Goa are in danger, so...
IffI 2021 - Welcome to IFFI 51
Which celebrities were spotted in Goa?
Reinventing The Traditional Cuisines Of Goa
GTDC's Gavin Dias Describes Life in Goa
Goa beaches are being watched... through a new app!
‘Koozhangal’ delineates sufferings of ...
Bondla Zoo of Goa will most probably get a new tiger!
Free entry for Fort Aguada Jail Museum
Boho Cafes of Goa
Cucumber And Mint Cooler
Monkey Mind Hostel
Thundershowers for the next few days in Goa...
The 'Beer Bottle Project' of Goa - Find out why it matters...
Goa has the 3rd best forest quality
Loneliness is almost like a...
New Goa Airport - What is ready?
Concert for Peace held at Caava Courtyard
A new Goa Bazaar complex just for Goan handicrafts!
What Made Me Settle in Goa
Nirmal Kulkarni's Life in Goa
The forgotten 'Gula Brinjal' of Goa may rise to fame again
A Monsoon Drive
IHCL Elevates Mr. Vincent Ramos As Senior Vice President
Things They Recommend
Lost Culinary Heritage Of Goa
Forts in Goa to be restored
Sunday by the Sal
LOUTOLIM The Land Of Green Fields And Palatial House
No One Can ‘Carnival’ Like Goa Can!
Bondla Zoo of Goa has made changes for a better experience
Goa could soon become mask-free!
The new Goa Mopa international airport is 75% ready!
Call for Goan Films - Iffi 2021
"Raj Kapoor: The Master at Work” is not...
Heat relief and rainfall for Goa!
Panaji City chosen for the national EatSmart Cities challenge!
Life of a middle class Indian is a comedy; it inspires my characters: Manoj Bajpayee at IFFI In-Conv...
GO GRAND - NYE Gala Dinner and Theatre Show at Grand Hyatt Goa
Traffic fines increased in Goa!
Holiday Inn Goa Candolim appoints Shibiraj Saha as the Executive Chef
Japanese Film ‘Ring Wandering’, a film which...
Camp inside Goa's wildlife sanctuaries soon!
5.5 foot crocodile got trapped in Ponda, Goa
Essen Windmills – A Testimony To Its Breeze Of The Ocean
Easter weekend return trips from Goa to be more expensive
What's going to happen during Iffi Day 5?
KTC buses to be modified to help people with wheelchairs

Author: Sheryl
Goa is a special place for Content Writer, Sheryl Gonsalves, with its picturesque beaches, gorgeous sunsets, rich heritage, and delicious food.

Leave a Reply