DUBAI: Nepalese chef Basant Ghimire is used to long days. His alarm is usually set at 5:45 a.m., before his long but scenic drive from downtown Ras Al-Khaimah to the top of Jebel Jais, where he works as a chef at the UAE’s tallest restaurant, 1484 by Pure.
Located 1,484 meters above sea level – hence its name – the restaurant offers diners the opportunity to eat surrounded by breathtaking views of the rocky canyons of Arabia, similar to the mountainous landscape of Morocco or from Arizona.
“The view (motivates me). We have to do our best for this place,” Ghimire told Arab News.
Ghimire’s 10-year culinary career actually began in Saudi Arabia and has since taken him to Qatar, and even briefly to Osaka, Japan, where he worked as a sous chef, preparing Japanese-Italian fusion cuisine, before coming to the UAE. in 2016.
Here, Chef Basant evokes his childhood culinary memories, offers advice to amateurs and offers a perfect recipe for gourmands: a chocolate and pecan nut brownie. “It’s comfort food,” he says. “If there’s one universal aspect of eating, it’s the pleasure and comfort it brings.”
Q: What is your first culinary memory?
A: My mother has always been the (main) influence on my life, my career and my cooking. When I was young, she owned and ran a village guest house, where I helped her in the kitchen, preparing the daily meal – a simple but delicious Nepali thali.
When you started out as a pro, what was the most common mistake you made?
I guess I would say, don’t taste the food while it’s cooking. As chefs, we have to taste the dish before it goes to the table, to make sure it’s well balanced.
What ingredient can instantly improve any dish? (And why)
I would say salt. As simple as it is, salt can make or break a dish. It can enhance flavor with the right amount, but too much or too little can spoil the dish.
Are you a disciplinarian in the kitchen? Do you shout a lot? Or are you more laid back?
I’m pretty strict about taste, ingredients, kitchen hygiene and personal hygiene, but I don’t yell at the staff. I wouldn’t call myself disciplined, but I’m quite strict for two reasons: I want every member of the culinary team to learn the discipline necessary for the job, and I want to make sure that the end product will truly satisfy our customers. .
Speaking of customers, what customer behavior annoys you the most?
I don’t (be bothered by customers). Sometimes when it’s a simple dish like pasta, you come up with different sauces and people have so many requests, “I want this and that…” When it’s really rushed, it can lead to complications in the kitchen. But we must always please; it is because of the guests that we are here.
Which dish do you prefer to cook and why?
Lamb braised with various Nepalese spices. It’s a childhood favorite that my mom makes for special occasions. I love cooking this dish when I’m at home because not only is it delicious, but there are fond memories attached to it.
When you go out to eat, do you ever criticize the food?
When my order comes in, the first thing I look at is if my food is well served, then the quality of the main ingredient, the texture and the flavor of the food. When a restaurant fails to evolve its menu, the whole experience becomes bland and boring.
What’s your best advice for home chefs?
Be goal-oriented, self-motivated and passionate. Passion will make impossible things possible, and practice makes perfect.
Chef Basant’s Chocolate Brownie
630 g of chocolate chips; 430g unsalted butter; 500 g of white sugar; 240 g light brown sugar; 350g of flour; 150 g chopped pecans; 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder; 2 teaspoons of iodized salt; 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence; 10 eggs
1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line the inside of a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread butter or spray lightly with cooking spray.
2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a large bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
3. Whisk together flour, salt, cocoa powder and pecans.
4. Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, whisk together the two sugars. Remove from the heat and stir in the eggs (one at a time) with the vanilla extract.
5. Sprinkle the mixture with flour and, using a spatula, gently fold in the dry ingredients until they begin to blend. Do not overmix (there may be a trace of flour in places).
6. Scrape into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.
NB: Do not overcook the chocolate-butter mixture. Chocolate will crack if overcooked.