Food Diaries With Star Chef Anahita Dhondy: An Interview

Chef Anahita Dhondy recounts her culinary journey and tells us why regional Indian cuisine is getting an identity of its own.


Delicious Beginnings

My cooking journey began very early. My mom is a home chef who
has been baking and cooking Parsi food for the last 30 years. And I remember licking cake batter from a bowl in her kitchen at the age
of four! By the age of 11, I was icing cakes and, at 13, I was sure I was going to be a professional chef. I later went on to get a Master’s
degree from Le Cordon Bleu in London.

Cooking Tips From My Family

When cooking with butter, splash the pan with a little oil to prevent burning. Wash your mushrooms with a little flour to make them completely white!

My Cooking Philosophy

A dish should be nutritious and look great. Designing a new dish is all about seasonality and using as many local ingredients as possible. For instance, in Asian cooking, I always opt for various soy sauces from Japan and its neighbours.

Learning the Ropes

I opened SodaBottleOpenerWala in New Delhi at the age of 23: First
as chef-manager and then chef-partner. My experience of setting up restaurants in India so early in my career allowed me to learn the ropes of setting up the business as opposed to just creating menus
in the kitchen.

My Proudest Moment

2019 was a big year for me. I was featured in the Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 list. I was also invited to the UN Headquarters to speak alongside the Director of the Food and Agriculture Organisation about my food philosophy, popularising Parsi food, and zero-waste practices
in my kitchen.

Current Culinary Trends

Today, looking inwards and the notion of going back to your roots’ is taking the culinary industry by storm. Regional Indian cuisine is at the forefront of it all. In 2013, with SodaBottleOpenerWala, we were the first Parsi restaurant in Delhi. I also love The Bohri Kitchen in Mumbai. Instead of a restaurant being generically labelled as offering ‘South Indian food’, we now see speciality restaurants serving food from specific regions, marking the individual identity of each culture’s cuisine. I wouldn’t call this a trend; it is a movement.

Sustainability in the Kitchen

In my kitchen, we make things from scratch rather than relying on bottled products. This includes making our own salt from leftover vegetables like broccoli, along with our own mustard and hot sauce. There’s still a long way towards zero wastage. I would like to avoid plastic completely, but my suppliers send me products packed
in plastic.

Inside The Parsi Kitchen

Five years of labour led to this collection of recipes, stories, and family nostalgia. Each recipe in this book has a story attached to it, with vegetarian options. You can begin reading it from anywhere.

Comfort Food

On returning home from my travels, I crave a simple dish of dal-chaawal along with aubergine or potatoes. If I’m cooking for friends, it’s usually dhansak with a side of beer.

Favourite Gourmet Destinations

Goa’s food and cocktail scene is growing tremendously. Jaipur, and Rajasthan as a whole, have some amazing restaurants. I love Kashmir, too. For me, Mumbai and Delhi have always been about their street food. Internationally, I love Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, and Italy.

A Long-Lasting Food Memory

My mum’s chocolate cake, the recipe for which is in The Parsi Kitchen. It would be in our tiffin and stolen at school every day!

My Advice for Young Chefs

Find a place you want to work at and make sure your feet hurt at the end of every day. This is the time for you to put in all that hard work. When you get that satisfied smile from a guest, it will all be worth it.

Next on the Horizon…

I’m currently setting up my new terrace grill and bar, The Glass House. It will open in Gurugram within the next two months.



This Middle Eastern salad is light, refreshing, and full of healthy nutrients. A perfect summer lunch!


1/2 cup dalia (broken wheat)
1 cup diced cucumber
1 cup diced tomato
1/3 cup chopped green onion
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup-chopped fresh coriander
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice,
adjust to taste
1 medium clove garlic, pressed
or minced


Wash and cook the dalia with a 1:2 ratio of water in a pressure cooker for two whistles. Drain off any excess water, and set it aside to cool. Add the cooled dalia to a bowl. Then add chopped fresh mint, coriander, parsley and green onion, tomato, and cucumber. In a small measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Pour it into the salad and stir to combine. Serve chilled!

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