Vaibhav Bhutani, a freshman in the School of Professional Studies, is not afraid to mix two vastly different types of cuisine in his cooking. The creative college chef believes eating and creating good food are keys to leading a high quality life.
“Food is not only essential for living a life but also for living life in the best possible way” Bhutani said. “Cooking is an equal blend of science and art. Culinary arts and sciences can be seen as what you want to see it as. However, at the end of the day it remains a method of spreading love, whether you do it for yourself or someone else. Cooking allows me to discover myself and strive for perfection.”
The dish he enjoys cooking the most is one he began creating and perfecting three or four years ago, which he calls tri-Formaggio, done the Bhutani way. The dish is a mix of spiced and cured mozzarella cheese with tomatoes and truffle oil, which is stuffed into thin, rolled up slices of paneer. This is served with a heavy garnish of Parmesan cheese and julienned ginger. A sauce made with tomatoes and cashews accompanies the dish. It is served with crispy naan served with butter and some papad, which is roasted dry bread.
Bhutani said it would be unfair to call it solely his dish because it is heavily influenced by his mother’s cooking.
“The only major transformation of this dish was that it used to have a non-vegetarian core, which I changed, mainly because I wanted to appeal to a larger crowd,” Bhutani said. “Especially because many of my critics and mentors in India were vegetarians.”
The dish carries an interesting mix of cultural backgrounds, as the dish focuses on Italian cheeses, yet it incorporates traditional gravy of the northwestern region of India. Bhutani’s best friend Pratul Tandon, a freshman at Brown University, describes the dish as tasting extremely unique.
“It tastes like nothing you have probably had before,” Tandon said.
For Bhutani, this dish represents a lot of what he loves about cooking a meal — it is a chance for people of many cultures to come together and enjoy a common delight.
“Eating food is a celebration of different cultures — it is celebrating beautiful produce, art and skill of the chef,” Bhutani said. “But more importantly it is celebrating people’s love for each other. Great food is found when you are open to eating anything, but one should also remember that great food is all about sharing.”
3 oz. Parmesan
2-3 crushed basil leaves
7 oz. Mozzarella
½ medium sized tomato
11 oz. Paneer
- Mix mozzarella, tomato, onion, salt, pepper and garam masala to make the filling.
- Roll the filling up in thin slices of paneer.
- Top with grated, aged Parmesan.
For the gravy:
2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste
2 tablespoons garam masala
½ stick cinnamon
4 pods green cardamom
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon red chili powder
1 green chili oil
1 tablespoon sugar
- Mix all of the ingredients except the oil and sugar in a food processor until smooth.
- Add a splash of oil to a pan, then add the mixture and allow it to cook for 12-15 minutes.
- Stir the mixture, then cook on low heat until the oil begins to separate from the curry.
- Add the sugar and mix it into the mixture, then wait for the oil to separate out again.
When plating the dish, pass the curry through a sieve before putting it on a plate and then add the cheese pieces on top. Garnish with julienned ginger and serve it hot with fresh naan and pappad.
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