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Acid Test with Niven Patel

Meet Niven Patel. Named a Food and Wine Best New Chef in 2020, Patel is quite simply, one of our favorite chefs.

At Ghee Indian Kitchen in Miami, the Gujarati-American chef transforms ingredients grown on his home farm, Rancho Patel, into bright and vibrant Indian cooking we could eat every day of the week. Pakoras chock-full of calabaza and taro. Charred corn with smoked paneer. Plantains turned into chaat, and much more. But Patel is no one-trick pony. At Mamey, he explores island flavors like only a Miami-based chef could, and at Erba he showcases his love of Italian cooking with fresh Florida ingredients. 

Read on for Patel’s thoughts on acidity in cooking, and a flavor trip from India featuring a healthy dose of acid. 

What does acidity mean to you?

Acidity is that sour punch that I love to incorporate into a dish.

What does acidity bring to food?

Acidity is one of the essential parts when I think about a dish. When creating a dish, I always have what I call the essential four—sour, sweet, spicy, and salty.

What are some of your favorite ways to feature acidity in your cooking?

I love how you can have acidity used in the forefront like in a ceviche, or in a subtle manner like an agrodolce where it complements sweet.

Do you have a favorite flavor-tripping memory?

My most memorable eating moment is eating fresh millet in the villages of India. They harvest the millet fresh, roast it over fire, and hit it with lemon juice and lots of cilantro chutney.

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