Where did you grow up?
My father was in the Army, so we moved log stock and barrel every two to three years. So my stays have been in Kashmir, Tezpur, Delhi, Mathura, Delhi, Kashmir, Udhampur, Jammu, Dhimapur, in that order.
What led you to becoming a chef?
Long story….I always wanted to be a neurosurgeon. I’m happy I still wear whites and cut things on the table…only the commodities have changed.
In my joint entrance exam, I got through mechanical engineering and my father was posted in Kashmir at that time. I am from Kashmir. I had no choice but do engineering. There were troubled times in Kashmir then, I took that as an opportunity to get out of engineering college to pursue my dream to be a doctor. Meanwhile I cleared Hotel Management exams and I landed up in Hotel management, thinking I will study for my medical exams alongside as there wouldn’t be too much work apart from cooking some dishes and washing pots and pans. Then when I started my internship, the life of the chef fascinated me. Couple of the chefs in the hotel I trained were like goons. They would walk with their knives in hand, scaring and abusing people, lifting their ingredients off their shelves, abusing few and walking off majestically and no one would utter a word. I was so fascinated with the pirates of the Carribean approach, that I decided to be a chef…Haha. That’s how naive I was but what do you expect from a 19 year old who only grew up in a confined army background.
How long have you been a chef?
Including three years of Hotel Management, 26 years.
What do you enjoy more? Cooking or creating?
Both go hand in hand. Each is incomplete without the other. As a chef moves ahead in his career in a five star hotel, he has less opportunity to cook directly on the range with his own hands. Each time he is depressed due to that fact and holds a pan. Some one by murphy's law comes with a request of menu planning or guest wanting to meet. I am blessed, being a chef trainer at the prestigious Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development, I am fortunate to cook 6 days a week, 9-6 every day. So I love cooking and creating both.
What ingredients would you use to create a tricoloured dish?
Has to be Indian and so has to be royal and has to be patriotic. So I will use saffron, yoghurt and pistachios.
If you were selected to pick our national dish, what would you pick? Why?
That is a difficult question because India is a country of food and flavours. It would be unfair to pick up one dish because there is a combination of food in India. Instead of a dish, I will pick up a style of eating like the Thali, which will have a combination of dishes.
But if I have to choose, then maybe dal, chawal and palak ki subzi, resembles Indian flag colours and the most popular ingredients used throughout India.
What dish do you like eating the most?
Hot basmati rice, moong dal, cow’s ghee and aloo methi...Yum.
What’s your least favourite dish?
Chipped one on the pick up counter. :)
Do you like it here in Bangalore?
It’s a fantastic place. I have started coming here so often that my wife now doubts that I have another wife here.