Chef Dan Durkin
You have just opened an outlet in Hyderabad. How different is the market?
Hyderabad seems very exciting from a restaurateurs perspective; the crowd feels knowledgeable and ready to try out new things, but just not given a lot of choices when it comes to international cuisines outside of big hotels. Which is great for a company like us. We’re very bullish on Hyderabad.
The customers in Bangalore have more choices, so they maybe come across a bit more jaded in that they don’t seem so eager when new things pop up. Not to be negative on our Bangalorean customers (we love ‘em), just a slightly different crowd.
Is Indian cuisine close to Mexican?
There are a lot of similarities between the two; lots of rice dishes are common to both; beans are a favourite accompanying dish in Mexico, Mexican food is almost always served with a flatbread called a tortilla that is super similar to some of the roti’s that are served with Indian food, and of course there are the spices used. Lots of chilis in Mexican food (chilis are native to that region, and from there were exported to the rest of the world), so there’s that similarity, but also other spices used in Mexican food are similar as well; cumin, cinnamon, and coriander seed in particular.
How did your interest in this career start?
I cooked in restaurants during university; I found out that I really liked the speed of the job and the people that I worked with. I liked it so much that (much to my parents chagrin) I dropped out of university after 4 years to go to culinary school to become a chef.
What has been a fav dish of guests at Habanero?
Our fajitas are our calling card for most people, it’s a fun dish to eat with your hands, it’s easy share, you can add in a lot of different flavours with the sauces provided, etc. It’s what I always suggest to people that are unfamiliar with the food.
Which other cuisines do you like?
I love, love, love Thai food; I can bang out a pretty good Kaeng Khiao Wan (green curry), but really would rather go out for it. I think that it’s one of the great peasant cuisines in the world.
I will also always have a soft spot for French food; both high end and bistro style, they’ve really spent a long time figuring out what goes well with what and when it’s done right nothing beats it.
And Indian food is pretty great too; as a ravenous meat eater I find that the tandoor is such a fantastic tool for cooking meat.