How long have you been a chef?
Cooking has been a passion and I’ve worked in the hospitality industry for over 20 years now. I have worked not just with Indian food but a wide array of international cuisines during my many experiences and travels.
What inspired you to take up cooking?
While I was completing my 12th grade, as luck would have it I passed the hotel management entrance exam with merit. This paved the way for my future as a chef, however, my background contributed to my inclination towards the profession. I was a daring child and was looking to pursue something different and my love for food along with my Punjabi background led me to the world of cooking. The profession gave me the liberty to be creative and experimental without the tight guidelines, which encouraged me to convert my passion for food into a full-fledged profession. Things took their natural course and here I am.
What are your signature dishes?
My signature dish is nalli ka khaasa sala, which consists of braised lamb/goat shanks in an aromatic vetiver & whole spices sauce. It is my signature recipe, which was crafted during my culinary travels while cooking with Nawab Mehboob Alam Khan from Hyderabad. I am also known for my Baked Blue swimmer crab cakes, khada saag, dal makhani and gosht biryani.
What has been your most memorable moment as a chef?
My journey in the culinary industry has given me several memorable moments, both big and small. Cooking for dignitaries like Amitabh Bachhan for his 60th birthday celebration, organizing the wedding buffets for Madhuri Dixit and Sonali Bendre, dishing out food for Anil Ambani, being Paris Hilton’s personal chef during her visit to India – all these are unforgettable experiences in my career. Apart from this, there are several simple moments that just get etched in your memory forever; be it a customer who travels long distances just to have a taste of food from your kitchen or someone recognizing you for perfecting something as simple as rotis, saying that those were the best tandoori rotis they had ever eaten! All these moments make the journey even more special. Even today, after 20 years, the guests I have met while working in Mumbai and Goa treat me as family and invite me for dinner, which is very special.
Why do you think there aren’t too many women chef around?
While working in the UK, almost 40% of my colleagues were women but I suppose the scenario here in India is different. You could ask the women for a better answer but I am sure they would do just as well in this profession. However, I can only assume the reason behind this is the strenuous nature of this profession with the long hours which can turn out to be quite physically exhausting.
What are your favorite Indian dishes?
My favourite Indian dishes are amritsari kulcha, keema champ, bhindi, dal tadka, pindi chhole, goan prawn curry and rava fried mussels.
What is your latest recent achievement as a chef?
Some of my recent achievements include being the Guest Chef on the world-renowned reality show, Junior Master Chef India. I earlier hosted my own show on Zee Khana Khazana titled “Ab Har Koi Chef”. I am also a recipient of the prestigious Global Marriott Hotels & Resorts ‘Chef of the Year Award for Culinary Excellence’.