Masterchef and more with Bhakti Arora Manekar

Talk about food shows on the Indian television, Masterchef India would probably be one of the first names that one may think of. And why not, when you have the top chefs of the country to judge the show with the contestant battling each other to put forth some of the most creative and innovative dishes. While the Season 4 of the Masterchef India challenged the contestants to come with innovative vegetarian dishes, the top 3 contestants became a talking point in every Indian household.

We got a chance to take one of our favourite contestants, Bhakti Arora Manekar, on a ride where she spoke about her experience on the show and how she has adapted to healthy cooking. Read more!

How has life been before and after Master Chef India 4?

Bhakti: Before Masterchef India 4: My life before Masterchef was just like any other cooking and baking enthusiast; trying and struggling to set up a business in food. I ran a small startup from homecatering to house parties in Mumbai, conducted workshops and participated in exhibitions to try making a name and prove myself in the world of culinary arts.

(b)   After Masterchef India 4 : Well, life has changed completely. Six months on the show have given me and my food immense recognition that gives me great joy, pleasure.  and satisfaction of being able to do well in this field.  This is indeed the best thing that could have happened to me *smiles*

TBS: When did you discover your passion for cooking? What pushed you for it?

Bhakti: I started cooking at the age of 8, when I could barely reach the kitchen platform. I would always help my mum in the kitchen back then which got my basics of cooking strong. While growing up, when I started eating out with my friends, I started getting interested in replicating every new dish that I tried outside and calling friends over to try the same. I fully got involved into cooking when I got married though. My husband is a diabetic and I had to pay extra care and attention to his diet. it was being difficult for me to handle my corporate life along with 100% attention to what is being made for him. I realized i could focus only on one thing… my job or my husband’s health. and the choice was obvious. It was getting difficult for me to manage work and pay extra attention to his diet at the same time. My husband’s health being the obvious choice, I quit my job and took over my kitchen full time! My husband being a big foodie,I started making different cuisines at home with a healthy twist. The more time I dedicated towards cooking the more I  developed a liking towards spending more time in the kitchen. I started hosting friends with a buffet filled table every time and their compliments pushed me even more to do something out of the box. It was great feeling. That is when I thought that maybe I can  do something professional in this field.

TBS: What is the best compliment that you have received so far for your cooking? From whom?

Bhakti: I think every compliment for me is special. The smallest of the compliments coming from my husband on everyday meal means a lot! My cooking is totally dedicated to him :)
Also the compliments that I received from the judges during the show  are unforgettable

TBS: Appreciation and criticism is something that every contestant goes through on a reality show. Has there been any criticism that has helped you get better and emerge as one of the top contenders for the Masterchef India title?

Bhakti: Well totally… I think the judges know and understand the capability of each contestant individually. They really pushed me hard, gave feedback that helped me improve every time. Each task, each dish and each comment from judges was a learning for me. I don’t really remember when they criticized; but their feedback and tips during cooking and on the final dishes helped me a lot.

TBS: A lot of people have been opting for a healthy diet. What do you do to make your daily food healthy?

Bhakti: I follow a few rules:

– No refined flour : instead i use whole wheat flour, millet flours , additional wheat bran

– No refined rice : I use organic brown rice & millets

– No refined sugar : I use organic brown sugar, honey, jaggery

– No refined salt : Instead use rock salt , himalayan salt

– No refined oil : Use non refined oils like, pure olive oil, mustard oil, coconut oil, and Indian cow desi ghee
TBS: Name a few cooking habits that people can switch to for healthier cooking.

Bhakti: –  Stop deep frying. There is always an option to make the same thing without deep frying! Start baking!

–  Cook and consume fresh. Avoid storing in fridge and eating stale food.

–  Increase the use of vegetables and fibre in food.

–  Reduce oil and sugar as much as possible.
TBS: What is the next big project that you are working on? Is opening up a restaurant on your cards?

Bhakti: Yes that’s exactly the big project that I am working on – opening up a restaurant in Hyderabad as well as Mumbai :)

Apart from these,  I am working as a consultant with other food chains and businesses.

Stay tuned for Bhakti’s exclusive recipe, in her next ride on The Brown Scooter.

Author: TBS Contributor

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