Meet India's most popular chef: Sanjeev Kapoor

According to the latest statistics, seafood is the fastest-growing protein in online searches in the GCC region. Is this reflected in restaurants, are more diners turning to fish over meat?

Diners these days are very experimental with their food choices; it is reflected food trends like vegan, paleo and keto that have taken the global food scene by storm in the past few years. As for a pescatarian diet, we have always had a high demand for seafood dishes at our restaurants in the Gulf. There has been a steady rise in people opting for a seafood-based dish rather than meat.

Why do you think more people are turning to seafood?

Besides the fact that it is super tasty - a diet that is a mix of veggies, grains and plenty of seafood, minus any meat, is low in calories and high in nutrients. It exactly fits the trend where people are looking for a variety of flavours and food options while maintaining the focus on the health and nutrition aspect of it. Availability is probably another reason –you don’t have to live in a coastal area to enjoy fresh seafood anymore. Good quality produce is can easily be made available wherever you are.


Is there a particular health benefit to opting for a pescatarian diet?

There are plenty! Fish and most other forms of seafood are loaded in minerals like zinc, selenium, iron, and a host of vitamins like A, B and E. Fish is also a great source of the all-important Omega 3 fatty acids which are good fats known to improve heart health and reduce the risk of lifestyle-related heart diseases. Though the protein content in seafood is not as high as in meat, a pescatarian diet makes up for the lack of it with a bunch of other nutrients which help your body in several ways. Right from improving digestion, brain function and eyesight to even reducing the risk of depression and certain types of cancer – a diet rich in seafood and veggies are great for you.

How are you adapting to the shifting consumer demands in your restaurants?

As mentioned above the demand for seafood in the GCC regions has always been high. We have met those demands by including exclusive seafood dishes at our restaurants in these locations. We emphasise the quality of the ingredients and use them to create exciting recipes for our menu. A Fish Biryani at The Yellow Chilli outlets across the Gulf and the Dum Nariyali Prawns which we serve at Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor in Doha are some of our best-sellers.

As a chef, is there a restriction on what you can do with fish or is it a more versatile option than meat and poultry?

When cooking seafood, there are several things you need to keep in mind. Making sure the seafood is fresh is on top of this list. Even after that several things could go wrong and ruin a tasty seafood dish. It is very easy to miss a bone or overcook a piece of fish – so you need to be very careful while handling it. However, when it comes to restrictions on how you can cook seafood, any good chef will tell you a challenge only makes the creative cook process more fun! There is so much variety in seafood – besides the several types of fish, there are also other sea creatures which fall into this food group – prawns, crabs, lobsters, shrimp, oysters, calamari, seaweed… the list is endless.