Chef Praveen Anand of Dakshin

Praveen Anand is a Chennai-based chef trained in western cooking. Today, his passion is authentic South Indian food. His embrace of the traditional is significant in a nation that has quietly begun discarding some of its food customs. In his two-decade long career, he has researched foods of various communities in Southern India bringing dishes from each of them to a wider audience. The fruits of his labor are evident at Dakshin, listed as one of top 20 restaurants in Asia in the authoritative Miele Guide in 2011.

Q.  What is the future of traditional cooking in India?

A: It may die out with the grannies of today unless we professional chefs step in and document their culinary knowledge. Over the years I have learned so much from them, and there is much left to learn.

Youngsters are typically rebels—I was like that, too. Everything Western looked great to me when I was young. The French, they say, are enamored of anything that is French. In India, we don’t appreciate our heritage as we should—maybe because we are unaware of its richness and variety. It is my mission to share what I’ve learned over the years.

There has been a tremendous response to our food festivals. Everybody loves the food, but many are eager to learn even more. That fills me with hope. The highest appreciation is when some person says, “This is like the food my grandmother or aunt used to make in the village—I had almost forgotten this dish.”

Such simple acknowledgment of my work fills me with joy.

Read the entire interview here. html. pdf.