To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Center City District Restaurant Week, we’ll be spending time celebrating the chefs—and some of their favorite recipes—as we get closer to the event.
To begin the series, we’re excited to share some stories and insights from Vipul Bhasin, one of the chefs at Veda Modern Indian Bistro. Described in Eater Philadelphia as a “truly elegant Indian restaurant,” Veda blends traditional Indian flavors with modern sensibilities in a fine dining atmosphere. And with an elevated cocktail program, featuring specialties like the Drunken Lassi with a house-made mango lassi, Veda is perfect for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch!
What inspired your journey to become a chef?
The love of food: first to eat good food and then to cook. Being the first child, I followed my mom around and wanted to do what she was doing. My mom was a great cook, and I don’t know when I became her unofficial apprentice, but I ended up going to culinary school. Upon completion, I joined the premier hotel chain in India—The Taj Group of Hotels that runs 100 plus luxury hotels—as a Trainee Chef.
What inspired your approach to cooking?
One of the master chefs I trained under used to always say: “Less is better. Spices should be subtle, and the diner should be guessing if that particular spice there or not. Do not overwhelm the meat or vegetable that you are cooking with spices… they should complement the protein or vegetable, not smother it.”
What has been the proudest moment of your journey as a chef?
Every day a guest leaves happy is a proud moment. But some events that I have cooked for have been memorable, like cooking for the Queen of Thailand at the launch of an Indian Food Festival in Bangkok and the launch Party for the Asia Section at the Smithsonian in Washington DC, to name a few.
Can you tell us about the recipe you shared, including the story behind it, it's inspiration, and why you chose to submit it?
Tandoori Chicken is in many ways a signature dish of India and can be served as an appetizer or an entrée. This dish evokes memories of weddings, and get-togethers with friends and family and sitting around a bonfire on winter nights. Basically, it's a dish that in my memory bonds and connects.
Can you tell me about the roots of the restaurant’s name, “Veda,” and how it connects to your restaurant's story?
The ancient Indian books of knowledge and wisdom are called “Veda”. The 5000-year-old natural system of medicine “Ayur-Veda” deals with healing and a healthy life style via food, herbs and spices… something we do every day via our food as we have a vested interest in our guests living a long healthy life!
How have you seen Center City evolve since opening Veda?
Since we opened Veda, we have seen the popularity of different cuisines from different cultures become more prevalent and popular with the people. We have felt the warmth and acceptance.
We thank our friends at Veda Modern Indian Bistro, especially Chef Bhasin, for sharing these stories. To learn more about Veda, make a reservation through our friends at OpenTable, visit their website, or follow them on Facebook and Instagram!
Stay tuned as we continue to share more of these stories as we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Center City District Restaurant Week, and check out all of the amazing restaurant options in Center City!