In the kitchen with HolyBelly

Rishi Bharadwaj and Janeya Khanna have known each other all their lives. Friends who grew up together, the duo came together to create HolyBelly, their gourmet food baby.

Both Rishi and Janeya trained at Le Cordon Bleu (one in London and the other in Paris) and their styles reflect their training, straddling French and British flavours. With that pedigree, that they’re well-versed in waking up your tastebuds is a given. But their food looks just as good as it tastes (and it tastes pretty damn good), and they work with an art director and close friend, Satabdi Jena, to hone their aesthetic sensibilities.
Rishi says, "I chose fish and a lot of fruits to give it a tropical element as that’s how I perceive Nicobar."We sat them down for a Nico Q&A, while they laid out a pretty incredible Nicobar-themed feast for us.

What is your biggest food inspiration?
RB – I love to feed people, and I’ve been doing exactly that since my childhood. Cooking gives me happiness and is a way of life for me.
JK – My grandmother and mother are my biggest inspirations. Being half-Bengali and half-Sikh (and especially my Bengali side) has meant that I’ve always explored food and flavours.

Biggest challenge of running a catering business?
JK – Pleasing our very friendly, vegetarian all-women crowd.
RB – Retaining resources, as the nature of this business is hard, and I love to push hard to keep up standards.
SJ - As a designer you are expected to be creative, all the time. and the last minute changes from the client, or changes due to unavailability of certain props, really freaks me out. But then again these challenges test your creative IQ.

The one ingredient you can’t live without?
JK – Full fat French Cream.
RB - Fish.
You’ve both studied at Le Cordon Bleu; what is the biggest challenge of being a chef in Delhi?
JK – I think it’s maintaining your individuality and sticking by what you believe in, and in your definite style. The other challenge is the fear of social media taking over your product, haha.
RB - Sourcing fresh produce.

What is your kitchen playlist?
JK – All SRK songs (which Chef Rishi Hates).
RB – Techno, EDM and Edith Piaf.
In the kitchen, I swear by:
JK – Kitchen towel.
RB – Black coffee.

Favourite restaurant, anywhere in the world:
JK – Dishoom (London).
RB – Nizam Kathi Roll.
SJ - I love Mamma Maria in Boston. The food, the people… everything about it is amazing.

Worst kitchen disaster? (if you’re willing to share)
RB – Fridge Down! Basically when electricity is under threat and the fridges go down.
HolyBelly have recently set up a Chef’s Table for Two, where they prepare a five course meal served personally in the intimate setting of their Shahpur Jat Studio. For something less intimate, their Food by Mood menus are customisable and can cater up to 80 people. To find out more, visit their website.

We also convinced Rishi and Janeya to share two of their delicious recipes with us. Crusted Tuna Escapagé here, and their Classic Panna Cotta with Spiced Jamun Compote here.