CHENNAI: RRajasthani food always has the sweet and sour combination in all its dishes. If the dish is sweet, the chutney is sour; if the dish is sour and spicy, the gravy is sweet. Good balance, eh?
I have been learning the art of Rajasthani cuisine for the past 47 years — when I first moved to Mumbai from my hometown Rajasthan for my family's livlihood. But I’ve been a chef only for the last 30 years. Doesn’t add up? Well, that’s because I started off as a helper boy, cleaning utensils and chopping vegetables in the hotel, Kalbadevi. With time, observation and interest, I became a chef.
Till today, I have enjoyed my days as a Maharaj working in the kitchen set-up. It was my livelihood and slowly, it also became my passion. Now that I'm a chef, my life is not very difficult and is pretty much stable.
Earlier, work was very hectic involving a lot of physical work and cooking inside the hot kitchen. I had it in me to cook with love and I believe I always had a knack for flavours and I remember my first dish, Dal Kadhi, which is a part of the Khandani Rajdhani thali.
Why I chose to stick to Rajasthan cuisine? Since childhood, I’ve always liked the food for its sweet and sour taste. The high nutritional value is an added plus. The wide variety of pulses that we use for cooking daals and kadhis are very good for health. I do experiment, but I stick to vegetarian dishes alone.
A chef’s life in the kitchen needs to be dedicated. That compliements the food. In the kitchen, my concentration is only on the food that is being prepared. I make sure nobody has any troubles while cooking as it spoils the aroma and the charm of the dish.
Actually, anyone can be a cook. The only thing they need to create a perfect dish is hard work, knowledge about the dish and the drive to learn. I call them the three ingredients to a perfect dish with a dash of passion! And anybody eating my food makes me feel special.
That being said, I love cooking for my family the most. They are very important to me as they are to everyone else. So, I make sure I take leave every six months to go back home to Rajasthan and spend time with them, cooking many lip smacking dishes!