Meet chef Amit Raval. At 29-years-old he is the co-owner of Amtar Fine Foods, a catering company which specialises in authentic Indian sweets, Indian and international cuisine. A graduate from Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality Tourism Institute (TTHTI) and UWI (Cave Hill Campus) where he completed his BA in culinary arts, Raval is one of the chefs featured on CNC3's new cooking series titled Taste. He will take viewers to class on the preparation of classical indian cuisine with a bit of the western touch. Doing two courses, appetizer and main course, he shows off his skills at preparing a spiced tossed paneer and prawn vindaloo served with steamed basmati rice. Raval credits his love for cooking to both his mother and father who taught him to cook from an early age. "My mother is a caterer, my father was an engineer but he also taught me how to mix spices...he was a good cook also, coming from a long line of confectionery makers."
At 13 he got his first experience with using the grill. "I remember mother putting me on the grill to make tandoori chicken." Laughing he says it actually came out "pretty decent." With the preparation of meals constant in his mother's kitchen, it just seemed wise for Raval to follow in her footsteps.
The journey begins
After ensuring he was a certified chef, Raval took up duty at the Sandpiper Hotel in Barbados where he was well known for his curries on the Wednesday night buffet menu. On his return to Trinidad he, along with his mother, established Amtar Fine Foods located in Princes Town. He says from then on, it has just been smooth sailing. After conducting a few cooking seminars on Indian cuisine at the Fanatic Kitchen Studio where the Taste series was filmed, Raval was invited by the show's producers to join the cast of featured chefs. It was his first time on camera, but Raval said once he started cooking the nerves just disappeared. "I happened to have worked with the show's host before (chef Ian Rooks) so I knew what to expect from him." He believes being on the series has opened more doors for him and his colleagues. "It was a great opportunity and I think it was also an excellent effort to celebrate local chefs." Describing himself as a continuous student of culinary arts, Raval says it is a never-ending learning experience. "No chef can say that they have mastered every cuisine. Cuisines are changing everyday in the world. You have to stay informed with what's happening in the culinary world if you want to stay on top of your game." Does he have any regrets on such a career path? "I am extremely happy I chose this path. It's a lot of hard work and commitment, but I am prepared to go the distance."
Shrimp stuffed tomatoes
2 vine-ripened tomatoes
100g raw shrimps
Salt to taste
125g bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
60g cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
125g grated Parmesan
60ml extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Slice tomatoes in halves horizontally and scoop out pulp and seeds.
Salt insides and place upside down on a sheet pan lined with a wire rack to extract juices, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together shrimps, bread crumbs, garlic, basil, pepper, 1/4 cup of the grated Parmesan and oil.
Stuff tomatoes with the filling.
Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and bake until tomatoes are cooked through and tops are golden brown, about
Prep: 15 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Total Time: 45 mins