Taste of India & more with Vikas Khanna
With changing times and evolution of cooking techniques, there haven’t been many chefs in India who have managed to make a name for themselves globally like Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. This 42 year ‘young’ cooking heartthrob has been charming the younger generation with his personality, wooing the ladies with his cooking tricks and winning hearts with his grounded yet comforting celebrity status. When the Brown Scooter caught up with this host of Masterchef India, here is what he had to say…
TBS: You’ve played a big role in the success of the Indian segment of the hugely popular cooking show, Masterchef. What are the ingredients required to become the next Masterchef India?
VK: This is a very big platform. People need to understand the level of competition and take not only the food to a new level but also their careers. But to reach there, it is very important that the contestants believe in 5 big ‘ingredients’ to win the Masterchef India title.
- Taste: You need to experiment with different tastes and bring out new flavours in every attempt.
- Thought: There needs to be a thought process behind the experiment or the ingredients while attempting a dish in every round.
- Technique: You don’t need to always innovate procedures. Sometimes a simple technique of cooking can do wonders. For example, a contestant was selected for making a simple Halwa. The reason was that it was the best Halwa we ever had!
- Persistence: The format of the show is not for weak-hearted contestants. There is always pressure to stand-out with so many dishes being presented to the judges. It is very important not to give up and have the persistence to carry on till the end.
- Last but not the least, Vision: If you are selected in such a big platform it is very important for you to visualise your way forward in the show and find ways to not only win the show, but also make a dream career out of this opportunity that has been served to you.
TBS: You have travelled to so many places across the globe! Which is that one country or city according to you that is under-rated when it comes to food?
VK: Meri Jaan Nikal Jati Hai Jab Koi Bhutan Ka Naam Leta Hai! It is not the tall buildings of Manhattan or the beautiful art decos of places like Paris, but a place like Bhutan that I would love to visit for food. The people, their culture and their food is really wonderful.
TBS: One dish according to you that is under-rated?
VK: Again, it would be from Bhutan. The dish is called Emadashi, which is similar to a Fondue and has only chillies and cheese as its ingredients. The cheese here is made from Yak milk, and can also be replaced by blue cheese. It’s so good in fact, that I selected to present this dish to President Barrack Obama when I had an opportunity to play host to him. The best part about it is that it’s simple, warm and the chilli is not used here just as a condiment, but as a flavour.
TBS: From Bhutan to India, your show on sweets. – The Taste of India – has surely left people drooling and craving for sweets. According to you, which are the 5 cities in India to eat sweets?
VK: I think travel has taken me to each and every sweet shop in India, and I feel really lucky because of that. If I had to choose 5 cities that serve the best Indian sweets, in no particular order, it would be Mysore, Jaipur, Ahmadabad, Kolkata and Old Delhi; Old Delhi being my favourite. I simply admire the taste and deliciousness the city offers!
TBS: So then which would be your favourite sweet?
VK: The Rajasthani Ghevar. You won’t believe, the first time I made a Ghevar it was made so perfectly that out of excitement I threw it in the air! I tossed the pan and went dancing around saying I created it perfectly, only to realise it cracked out of my excitement. Same thing happened when I created Soan Papdi. On most occasions I get carried away with excitement!
TBS: Women admire your cooking and you have a great female fan following who simply adore your personality. What should a lady cook to impress you?
VK: (laughs) Haske kuch bhi khila do main kha lunga. I can be impressed with anything someone cooks for me with love. My producers say, “Sir, if we make you the only judge of Masterchef India, you will make everyone a winner”. In fact if anyone makes a simple comfort dish like a daal, with a lot of love and soulfulness,it would be more than enough to impress me.
TBS: What is that one tip that you would like to give for perfect cooking?
VK: I often advice people that fast cooking is not the best cooking. Greatest of dishes need their own sweet time to cook. In our households, I have never seen Indian women going full throttle to make a roti or any curry; that’s because every ingredient needs the reverence to be cooked.
TBS: It’s been a pleasure chatting with you! Thank you so much chef Vikas Khanna for taking a ride on The Brown Scooter and we wish you loads of success for your new season of Masterchef India.