Food For Thought

Updated: Mar 26 2004, 05:30am hrs
Sanjeev Kapoor needs no introduction. Unravelling gastronomical treasures for the past ten years for couch potatoes, his Khaana Khazana has been the longest running cookery show on Indian television. The peppy gourmet holds the record of being the youngest Indian executive chef and has donned many aprons since. Apart from being a star anchor and best-selling author, he is also a columnist, a consultant to hotels and restaurants and has two franchisee restaurant chains Yellow Chilly and the Grain of Salt. BB gets his take on matters of the palate.

Indian food, global platter
The rage about Indian cuisine has a good chance of survival because ours is a bold and unique cuisine. Bold, because unlike most other cuisines, we do not use spices and herbs in isolation and unique because of our large repertoire that allows us to permute and combine to satisfy taste buds across the globe.

People per se never change their tastes. When we talk about adaptation, we are essentially changing it to suit tastes. Our repertoire is so vast that chances are high that you would find things to cater to a variety of taste zone.

A cook is like a good tailor, he should not just stitch but fit a suit well
For instance, if someone likes steamed food, we can offer idli, dhokla or even patrani macchi (fish in banana leaf), khatta, meetha, teekha whatever he prefers. The only problem, as I see it, is its positioning as a hot cuisine, and this might create a problem in the long run.

Beyond tikka masala
The influence of Indian cuisine must be viewed not just in terms of straight dishes like murgh makhani and aaloo Kashmiri that are popular globally. One must consider that the cuisine must have scaled heights for the local chefs in several countries to use our ingredients and spices, which is happening in a major way. While chicken tikka masala continues to rule the roost, in California, mithai, idli and dosa are as much revered as tandoori chicken.

A book launch for the international market and an Indian cookery show for an UK-based channel, both slated this year. Need he say more

Desi delights
Coastal cuisine will be the future of Indian food. The rationale is simple. Internationally, the meats that have done well are sea food and none can cook sea food better than people who live near the sea. Moreover, coastal cuisine in the Indian context means a gamut of options.

Future fundas
Korean will hit the market big time after Japanese food. Not only is it doing well internationally, the crisp and spicy cuisine is also very much in our taste zone. Currently, there are a few Korean restaurants around. In Mumbai, for instance, the Pan Asian at the ITC Grand Maratha Sheraton has four Korean BBQ tables and its a struggle to get a reservation!

Vital ingredients
The most crucial ingredient is love and positive energy. A lot depends on who you are cooking for. A cook is like a good tailor, he should not just stitch but fit a suit well. Garlic is something I love to use, but will not use it when I cook for my mother. A good cook is someone who knows what you want.

Recipe for a celeb chef
There are speciality cooks and there are chefs. A good chef is one who creates new menus, understands what people want and knows how to control cost. Earlier, chefs were labelled as people who would force things on others and treat recipes as trade secrets. It is important to share what you know and ... parting with all your knowledge will provoke you to learn more and upgrade yourself.

Eating out
...at the Peshawar in Mumbai and Shenaz in Kolkata for its delectable prawns. Kirti College for its nice and moist batata wada and Aaswaad for its thali peet.

At the end of the day...
There is nothing like rajma chawal and kadi chawal.