When and how did your tryst with food begin?
I started cooking at the age of 12. I was inspired by my love for street food, especially those late night cravings for pav bhaji. Wanting to recreate the magic of the pav bhaji vendor made me think of going forward with my cooking career. I always believed my mother had a super power of making people smile with her food and I craved for the same. This journey of making meals for my family and watching them enjoy it was where it all began for me and now I make millions of people smile through my cooking.
Walk us through the journey from Masterchef india to your food lab
I was offered to be the food producer of MasterChef in 2014 when I had just graduated from college. It was a really interesting and an amazing amalgamation of visuals and videos for me. I worked with many brilliant chefs on the show. I did have a few offers in hand while working on MasterChef but I didn’t want to go ahead with any of them because I wanted to pursue something of my own. I started working with my father and honing my culinary skills on the weekends. I realised that I was missing out on creating new and exciting dishes. One fine day, I decided to upload one of my cooking videos on Facebook and it gained millions of views in just 24 hours. This made me realise how much I loved cooking so I went ahead and officially launched Your Food Lab. The channel in fact brought me out from the lowest phase of my life.
Which city do you think does the best street food?
I’m a true-blue Mumbaikar and have grown up eating pav bhaji. It was, in fact, the first meal I ever cooked. Besides that, I love pani puri and if the debate ever comes to gol gappa or puchka, it’ll always be pani puri for the win. I think Kolkata also does it really well. Honestly, you get amazing food all over the country.
With over a billion views, you’re an internet sensation today. What has kept you going?
The kind of response we have gotten so far on social media has been really overwhelming. I also believe that there’s a lot of hard work and time that has gone into it. I make the best use of my art and that is what has kept me going. Whatever I do is all for the viewers and the fans and of course for the love of cooking.
Who has been the biggest culinary inspiration for you?
It’s not just one person but a lot of people. It’s the street food heroes who do an amazing job. They are the biggest inspiration for me. The way they run their business and the way they come up with new recipes is truly inspiring. I dedicate a lot of my success to all the street food vendors out there.
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One signature recipe which is very close to my heart is this pav bhaji. I’ve experimented with a number of fusion dishes involving pav bhaji including bombay pav bhaji sizzler and paneer pav bhaji.
This is one of my classics. I have always loved butter chicken. It’s all about the taste, flavour and emotion. This recipe is a tried and tested one and is always a hit.