Sustainability; farm to table; ingredients-driven. All typical buzzwords that permeate the international dining scene, used by seemingly every chef as the foundation for their restaurant philosophy. So what separates the wheat from the chaff, the talkers from the do-ers? Every year, the Miele One To Watch award (a part of Asia’s 50 Best stable of accolades) pinpoints a restaurant that is doing something extraordinary in the culinary space—previous winners include Taichung’s JL Studio in 2019, and Manila’s Toyo Eatery in 2018. This year, the award goes to the progressive Indian restaurant Masque, situated in Mumbai’s Mahalakshmi district. We speak to the co-founders Prateek Sahdu (executive chef) and Aditi Dugar (CEO) to get a sense of their vision of the past, present and future of Indian cuisine.
Tatler Dining (TD) Tell us about some of your most significant food memories—what did Indian cuisine mean to you when you were young?
Prateek Sadhu (PS) As a child, my idea of Indian cuisine resided mostly in a little bubble of Kashmiri food, which is what I grew up eating. That was quintessential Indian food to me. I have fond, almost too idyllic, memories of visiting my grandfather’s orchards as kids, stuffing my face with quince, apples and green walnuts. It was once we left in the migration that my exposure to other regional cuisines began. I will say that one of my most significant food memories happened relatively recently, about three years ago on a sourcing trip for Masque—we were driving back from Turtuk to Leh and had to stop due to the weather. We stayed the night at a local homestay where the owners cooked us a meal of local rice, a green sabzi made with greens and herbs from around the town, and yak meat.
Aditi Dugar (AD) My favourite thing to eat as a kid was bajre ka daliya (bajra is finger millet, especially popular in Rajasthan) at my maternal grandmother’s house. She’d make it every Sunday when we visited. She also had cows from which we’d drink fresh milk—literally just squeezed and boiled. My paternal grandmother would also make us these glorious plates of rice, dals, veggies, pickles and papads—all a giant hodgepodge, just like how Indians love to eat. We never really ate out of season; it was taken for granted in our homes, and I think a lot of my memories of eating are marked that way—now is jackfruit season, now guava, and so on. It was food we could recognise the diversity and pride in.