Chef, entrepreneur, author - which hat do you love to don the most and why?
I would say I love to don my chef hat (quite literally too) because that is how I became an entrepreneur and author. My journey started as a chef with my immense love for food and I took it as an opportunity to grow and share my love and knowledge with the world.
What prompted you to co-author a book on health and immunity?
In a word, Covid prompted me to co-author this book with my friend, Dr Mickey Mehta. We all know that fitness and health is a priority more than ever. This pandemic has led us to focus on our body, health and nutrition thoroughly. This book is the ‘need of the hour’ for people to understand and get proper guidance on how and what to do in order to boost their immune system and stay fit and healthy in the long term.
Has the pandemic spurred changes in your own cooking style?
I would say, yes but it changed the cooking style for everyone, not just me. First thing, we all have started experimenting more and more with healthy foods. Now, we are focused on how we can make healthy foods interesting and more delicious. Earlier, eating healthy was a choice, now it has become a need. Come to think of it, there’s totally a different perspective of the relationship between health and taste in the modern era. Thanks to the current generation for understanding the importance of nutrition and it makes me happy to see that more and more people are adapting to it.
Secondly, it has also made us all realise that cooking is not about a lot of ingredients. It’s about how creative you can get with minimum ingredients available. When we were short on supplies during the lockdown, we all put on our creative hats and tried and tested unique dishes with the available ingredients. So, I’d say, it brought these positive changes to our culinary world.
Will indigenous foods find a way back into our pantry in a post-pandemic world?
I have been a flag bearer of Indian cuisine since forever and I have always said out loud that our Indian cuisine has a plethora of ingredients, now being famed as superfoods are healthy, wholesome and have magical abilities. After and during the pandemic, not just Indians, people all over the world started to realise that Indian ingredients that have been a part of our pantries for a long time are great immune boosters. One of the wonder ingredients is amla or Indian gooseberry – you can consume it the way you want to – juices, pickles, chutneys, etc. Besides these, you've got spices like turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, ginger, etc. which have been used forever to prepare gharelu kaadhas that work wonders for the immunity system. The list is unending.
You are an inspiration and a role model for many chefs. Who is your inspiration?
My inspiration is my family; they inspire me to be a better version of myself and I am thankful that their support and love has brought me till here today. And also, my dream of making Indian Cuisine, the number one in the world, inspires me to do better every day. I am definitely working towards it, non-stop.
If we were to raid your fridge, what is the most peculiar item we'd find?
I wouldn’t really call it peculiar but I stock truffles in all forms. When I visited Spain to judge the ‘Cooking with Truffle’ global competition, I made sure to hunt down some truffles for myself and bring them home.
Immunity+ :Revitalise in 28 Days by Dr Mickey Mehta and Sanjeev Kapoor; Rs 250; published by Harper Collins. More information here.