When I think about cooking something new, the only face I can think of is that of Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. I remember the time when my mom would try new dishes after watching his show Khana Kahazana, and now it’s me who is hooked on to Food Food (the channel) sharp at 8 pm to watch Cook Smart and start my experiments with food. Sanjeev Kapoor has not only taken Indian cooking to the international palette, but has also been a source of inspiration for thousands of people. No wonder then, he is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine.
So, when I interviewed him for my 11th Celeb Travelogue, food, undoubtedly, became the focus of our conversation. Without much ado, here’s presenting a fresh and hot platter of Mr. Kapoor’s favourite food destinations, the coolest gadget in his kitchen and the food trends in 2015.
Mr. Kapoor doing what he is best at!
BG: Does travel inspire your cooking?
Sanjeev: Inspiration comes from many things and travel is very high on this. When you travel, you see different styles, different ingredients. The more you see, the more you learn, the more you enjoy cooking.
BG: You love working with meat. What do you think of vegetarians?
Two chefs enjoying an evening in Australia
Sanjeev: I do work with meat and eat it as well, but I am preferably a vegetarian. I have been brought up like that. My mom is a pure vegetarian; she does not even eat garlic. You know almost 60 to 70 per cent of Indians are vegetarians. I’m a true Indian in that sense.
BG: Do you think Indians are turning towards healthier food options?
Sanjeev: Of course! The talk is there and consumption has started to follow. I would say in the upper strata, people have definitely become more health conscious because they are more informed and aware.
BG: There are people who like travelling to different places but do not like experimenting with food. Do you encourage sticking to convenient food choices?
Middle Eastern ice cream in Sydney #Yum
Sanjeev: I strongly feel that you should eat local food no matter what part of the world you are in. Taste is something so individual in nature that there is nothing right or wrong. If you are okay with travelling to new places, then why do you leave food behind in that? When you have made a choice to see the world, then at least give new cuisines a try as well.
BG: Is there any food item you thought you won’t eat but still did?
Sanjeev: Why should I think of not eating anything? When you are travelling and there is a new route you have to take, do you ever say “Oh my God, I will not go on this road.” Just because you have not taken that road before, doesn’t make it bad. Similarly, there are times you have to eat things you have not had before. It doesn’t make the food bad either.
BG: When you go to a restaurant, what is something that you always order?
Sanjeev Kapoor cooking grilled chicken with thyme, lime & fig salad with Chef Zach Riemersma in Adelaide
Sanjeev: In a hotel, the foremost thing that I look for is local cuisine. Whenever I am out of my house in India or abroad, I always only eat what is local. Tasting the specialty of that place – that’s my only focus in terms of food.
BG: Apart from India, which place do you think serves the best Indian food?
Sanjeev: London! And there are quite a few restaurants like Amaya, Tamarind, Benares. While some of them serve Indian food the way we eat, others serve Indian influenced food.
BG: Do you ever make suggestions to people/chefs when eating their hand-cooked meals?
Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor with Chef Dennis
Sanjeev: I have been trained to appreciate and not to criticize. But having said that, if there is an opportunity where I can teach something new to some chef, I love to pass on the knowledge. For instance, I was shooting in Australia with different chefs, so I taught them different styles of cooking they did not know of. Things like, what they could do with our ingredients while preparing new dishes. But I would never do that to correct anyone’s way of cooking.
BG: You prepare in-flight meals too. What’s the difference between an ordinary meal and an in-flight meal?
Sanjeev: I do menus for the Singapore airlines. There are certain things you have to keep in mind when you are 30000 feet above the ground. So you have to use technique, talent and expertise to make sure people don’t experience problems. With today’s technology though you can serve restaurant style food also, 10 years ago it may not have been possible.
BG: Who is the chef at home? Does your family approve of your cooking or they are critical?
Sanjeev Kapoor with wife Alyona Kapoor at Port Campbell National Park
Sanjeev: My wife, my two daughters, my mom, myself – everybody cooks. And yes, they are critical at times. If they are made to eat things that are good for them but they don’t like, they get critical.
BG: What food trends do you see catching on in India in 2015?
Sanjeev: There are two changes that I see coming. One – Indians will be more aware of regional international cuisines. Currently, many of you wouldn’t know the difference between a Northern Italian and a Southern Italian dish. But, with people travelling more and more, we expect to see more authenticity in cooking. Earlier cheese would mean just cheese. But today, people know various types of cheese like cheddar, mozzarella, feta, so on and so forth. Two – use of seasonal ingredients that are healthier and fresh.
BG: People have a lot of myths about diets. What’s your opinion on it?
Sanjeev: Read ‘The Live Well Diet’ written by Dr. Sarita Davare and me. You’ll find all the answers in it.
BG: If you were to invite three fantasy guests for dinner, whom would you invite?
Sanjeev: Mahatma Gandhi – I think he will be a difficult guest because how would you know what to feed to someone who is so simple.
Charlie Chaplin – I’d be very curious to know whether he is making fun of my food or actually liking it.
Aamir Khan – He is someone who has been brought up with a good sense of food and I might fish for some appreciation. P.S.: I know his mom cooks amazing food.
Hot Air Ballooning!
3 favourite international food destinations – Japan, Thailand, Spain
3 favourite Indian food destinations – Kerala, Coastal Maharashtra, Punjab
Your favourite street food – Paani Puri
Favourite restaurant in the world – Noma in Copenhagen
Indian sweets or English desserts – Indian sweets, especially Bengali sandesh
The most expensive ingredient you have used – Saffron with gold work to make orange phirni
The coolest gadget in your kitchen– A slow juicer that retains enzymes
An unusual thing in Sanjeev Kapoor’s travel bag – A set of knives
A place you would recommend – New Zealand
A place on your wish list for 2014 – Peru (Latin America)
Well, that’s a lot of food talk and I’m already feeling hungry. While I take a lunch break, you tell me how has Sanjeev Kapoor inspired your cooking? Tweet your answer tagging @SanjeevKapoor and me (@bhawnagrover).
Till then, keep #ExperimentingWithFood.
Source: Celeb Travelogue - MakeMyTrip