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Cooking up magic with masterchef Sanjeev Kapoor


Sanjeev Kapoor visited Abu Dhabi to open his first restaurant in the Capital, the top of the line Signature, with only one other branch in Dubai.

He is one of the most recognised faces of Indian television introducing viewers to the delights of Indian and international cuisine. Little wonder then that Indian masterchef Sanjeev Kapoor has a great number of fans across all age groups, genders and countries! Conferred the ‘Best Chef of India’ award by the Indian government, his website, www., has more than 8,500 recipes and attracts about eight million page views per month, and over 1.7 million fans follow him on Facebook. His cookery books are bestsellers, with more than 170 titles in English, Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati. His restaurants, Sanjeev Kapoor’s Khazana, The Yellow Chilli, Signature, Hong Kong and Options are considered the best in their categories and his kitchen gadgets known by the name Wonderchef, have enabled and continues to empower women, a cause close to his heart. Last weekend, Sanjeev Kapoor visited Abu Dhabi to open his first restaurant in the Capital, the top of the line Signature, with only one other branch in Dubai. In between greeting guests and preparing a feast for the grand opening, Kapoor took a coffee break to speak with Silvia Radan about his culinary adventures.How did you get into cooking?

Oh, just like that! I had no clue that this is what I will do. When I started this career I was about 16 years old. That’s not young because most people who are very successful, who become somebody, know from a very young age what they want to do in life. I should have probably known when I was three years old that I would become a chef, but I didn’t.

What eventually attracted me to cooking was that nobody in our family, neighbourhood or friends was into it. It was something so different, something not predictable, something that was bizarre, because in those days people who were educated, good at their studies, male, would not go into this field.

Not that my parents were very progressive — although now, in retrospect, I think they were far ahead of their time. But they never, not even once, said don’t do it. There were many others, relatives, friends, who thought I was mad, but my parents said ‘if you think it’s good for you, do it! Don’t worry (about) what others say!’

What is your favourite food?

To eat, essentially I like home style food, and it’s not just in my house, could be anyone’s house. I believe home cooked food is the real food.

To cook, it depends. Normally, when I’m cooking, I like to know whom I am cooking for. When you have that option and opportunity, you give your best. I can connect with food, but who is this food for? It’s like asking a tailor to stitch a suit, but we will not give you the size or any measurements, but do a suit. Can that tailor do a suit? If he knows who you are, your personality, what colour suits you best, then he can stitch a great suit! The same with me. If I know whom I am cooking for, than I can create magic easily!

What is the latest in Indian cuisine?

Within India, is the home style cooking, from different regions of India. It is a very different style of cooking from restaurants. To start with, restaurant food is very rich, home style is much lighter. At home we never cook with cream, butter and such rich ingredients, so the food is not heavy, and it is fresher!

Indian food is very different abroad in the US, the UK or Singapore. When we decided to open Signature, we wondered what type of food should we do. Should we do cutting edge Indian cuisine? Should we do molecular Indian cuisine? That’s not who we are, though, so we went back home, looking for authenticity.

Many think of Indian cuisine as very spicy. How important is the chilli pepper?

India didn’t have chillies until little over 400 years ago. We didn’t even know what chilli pepper was. Once it got there, it was only used in some parts of India. At home, we eat very little chilli, but the perception is that Indian food is very hot.

I remember many years ago, in 1989, I opened a restaurant in New Zealand, and I used to do the food that we do in India, but there were many people saying ‘this is not Indian food, it is not hot enough’. ‘But this is how we eat in India’, I would say to them.

There are different parts of India where food is very spicy, very hot, but not everywhere, not all dishes.

Overall, Indian food is very bold, very complex, with unique combinations of different spices and herbs. In one single dish of curry could be 15 to 20 different contrasting ingredients, and yet come up with one result. That is the boldness. Not too many cuisines around the world can do that.

What is the highlight of your career?

When I catered for a festival, it’s called Kumbh Mela, where we had to feed millions of people. I think it was in 1988. We had to do it at a very low cost, but the pleasure of feeding so many people, the satisfaction, is phenomenal. I was the main chef and had a team of about 200 chefs, and we cooked in a makeshift kitchen that we created. The estimate was that 30 million people would come to the festival, which lasted for a month, on the banks of Ganges.

We were told there is no place to stay, we have to set up our own kitchen, it was freezing cold, and you would think ‘why me?’, but I can tell you, what an experience!

How do you and Arabic food get along?

I love it! So much so that I’m planning to take the concept of Arabic food from this part of the world and start something in India.

Source: Khaleej Times

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.