Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nueske's cookoff finalist #3: Nacho mama

Monica Sehgal Sharma, creator of
tandoori bacon nachos.
If we had to pick our favorite non-bacony cuisine, it might be Indian food. We love the spices of dishes like chicken vindaloo, the savory goodness of samosas, and--if (God forbid) all bacon were to suddenly disappear from the planet--we might bestow the World's Perfect Food title about the fluffy, chewy taste treat known as naan. The only thing that could possibly improve the fantastic flavors of Indian food: bacon.

Well, Monica Sehgal Sharma--one of the finalists in the Nueske's Amateur Bacon Cookoff at Baconfest Chicago--has rectified the situation and married the two flavors in her finalist dish, tandoori bacon nachos. They use chicken skin instead of tortilla chips. Brilliant! Let's learn more about the genius and inspiration behind this tantalizing dish.

Monica's Indian-inspired tandoori bacon nachos.
BDJ: How did you come up with this delicious idea?

MSS:  I came up with the idea of deconstructing tandoori chicken, a staple dish in my replacing the chicken for bacon was an easy start, using the same marination methods for the bacon was trial and error, but I got it just right!

 I wanted to create a one-bite amuse bouche that gives someone the experience of tandoori chicken.  So the smoky tandoori bacon combined with the freshness of the tomatoes, red onion, and cilantro with the splash of lime juice makes the dish almost perfect, the crispy chicken skin chip is the base for this dish and the element that makes it perfect! 

BDJ:  Why do you love bacon?

MSS: Bacon is salty, sweet, spicy, and smoky, it takes whatever form you want it to and adds a dimension to any dish that no other protein provides....the best part is that it's cost effective, it enhances a dish and doesn't clean you out!  A little goes a long way and using alot is always welcome, you just can't go wrong.

BDJ:  What's your favorite way to eat bacon (besides in this recipe, of course)?

MSS: My fav way to eat bacon....hmm, that's tough, there's no bad way to eat bacon!   But, I like bacon as its first use, for BREAKFAST!    I love bacon that is  braised in maple syrup or even just eating pancakes and bacon and letting the syrup run into the bacon...the sweetness and the saltiness MAKES FOR A GREAT COMBINATION.

BDJ:  Why should you win?

MSS: I think I should win because I've created a dish that truly is different and original (what indian restaurant serves tandoori bacon? I have yet to find that place!).  The dish also represents my abilities as a cook to balance flavors and texture and to create an experience in your mouth.  I also show my creative and innovative side in using the chicken skin to make the perfect platform for my dish, which adds flavor and practicality to my dish.  My creation really brings together how I think and feel about food, and as a cook, sharing who you are in the food you make is what makes it unforgettable.

BDJ:  Anything to add?

MSS: I am really excited to show the world what I am about as a cook and as a person.  I am ready to take myself to a new level personally and professionally and having this opportunity at Baconfest Chicago is just amazing!  I get the chance to meet incredible chefs, talk to people that eat, sleep and live for food like I do, and most importantly, I get to share a piece of my world with all of you! Good luck to my fellow contestants, everyone's dishes look amazing!

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