Into the pantry
With baker, food stylist and blogger Shivesh Bhatia
Shivesh Bhatia’s fridge resembles a vibrant winter garden, full of pops of reds, yellows and greens. There are fresh blueberries and strawberries, plump gooseberries, tart pomelos and grapefruits, dehydrated cranberries, mangosteens, and more. Delhi-based Bhatia loves the play of texture and flavour that every part of the fruit brings to a dish. His kitchen is redolent with the heady perfume of berries and citruses.
Bhatia’s beautifully stylized dessert recipes are a huge hit on Instagram—he has 94,600 followers. He also got the Social Media Star at the Condé Nast Traveller and Himalayan Sparkling Top Restaurant Awards at its first edition in 2017. “I try and make everything from the scratch, right from the syrups to the caramels," says Bhatia, who is currently working on a book of dessert recipes, to be published by HarperCollins later this year. “My nani (maternal grandmother) used to be an avid baker. Whenever we would visit, there would always be two cakes sitting on the counter. And she would make everything at home, from the ketchup to the garnishes and ice creams," he says.
Fresh and organic—that’s the mantra in his kitchen. Hence, you will find in his pantry single-origin chocolates by Regal, which is India’s first tree-to-bar brand, and also ingredients such as lavender, vanilla pods, golden matcha and coconut palm sugar by gourmet organic brands such as Sprig and Indian Goodness. Giving these company are slender tubes, filled with rosebuds and exotic teas—gifts from his friends.
An avid traveller, the 21-year-old also picks up ingredients from wherever he travels to. “Right now, in my fridge, you will find a lot of nectarines, raspberries and passion fruit, which I picked up on my recent trip to London. People shop for clothes, I shop for fruits," he laughs. Bhatia, who has worked with Pooja Dhingra of Le15 Patisserie and Sanjana Patel of La Folie, in Mumbai, also stocks up on baking staples, spices and an array of dried fruits, nuts and berries. You will also find a lot of alternative flours in his pantry, such as polenta and buckwheat. “I won’t use buckwheat in a cake but I will use it in a chocolate and caramel tart for that extra crunch. I am also experimenting with jowar (sorghum) in desserts," he says.
The flavoured sugars like coconut palm sugar, go into warm desserts such as a walnut pudding for those earthy tones. “I also grow my own edible flowers, as these are not easily available in the market. Right now, I am using pansies, nasturtiums and violas," he says.