HYDERABAD: Celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor needs no introduction. He was recently in the city for a live cooking workshop at Taj Deccan. His wit a flashing smile made complex recipes look simpler and he brought the importance of cooking into the drawing rooms and watching Khana Khaza, the longest running TV show, an entire generation grew up. His charm grows in Google age as people tune into his Youtube videos to learn that recipe or this exotic item. He talks about the transition of food and how he explores a country’s cuisine through its home recipes. Excerpts:
What do you think has changed about food during early times and now?
It does not change that fast. The taste of the food doesn’t change; only because the world has become smaller and ingredient movement has increased and availability has changed, seasons have changed, but the intrinsic trails of taste haven’t changed in humans, that remain the same. The basic sense of taste doesn’t change.
In an age of packed food what can bring people to healthy cooking and eating?
Everything co-exists; conversations happen and consumption follows. Each one has his own definition of health. It’s the need which drives people to take care of their health and eat accordingly.
You once said that all cuisines need to grow. How?
There has to be some addition to what was. Evolution is the key if we go by Darwin’s theory. In the same way we grow, it has to be relevant for today and to find something for tomorrow. That part has to be done in a structured way which currently I feel is undermined when it comes about its importance. We can take ‘the good’ from yesterday and improve it for ‘today’. There’s a need to grow and constantly evolve so that people who read about us 500 years later can say that even we were as good in our food as those who existed 1,000 years ago.
Now because of Internet all households suddenly have international cuisine and chefs to follow. How do you think Indian cuisine is going to hold onto its identity?
It’s us who have the largest varieties of food. Earlier when you’d go abroad you’d get bad Indian food. Now it all has changed and it’s a collective growth. Today at the click of a button several recipes are available which depends on whose need is higher, what problems are addressed. It’s not a threat but an opportunity.
How do you think we have evolved as a nation of foodies thanks to the sudden jump in blogging, videos etc?
Definitely there’s more seriousness in food whether whether it’s eating, cooking, serving or writing. The scenario has changed and people have their opinions with a knack to explore and experiment. But they have to be more responsible and careful while writing or blogging.
Do you think food and spirituality go hand in hand?
We are what we eat; not just food, but thoughts, perceptions, opinions etc which means if you are eating your food in what mood are you eating the same and what’s your state of mind then. Our body is quite complex when it comes to response to the kind of vibes you generate or send. A lot of ancient scriptures talk about that. We eat food for energy, hence it is positive for us and in a way sort of god.
After organic food and molecular gastronomy what else do you see emerging as the future of food?
Organic was always there. An aberration happened. Now, people are going back tot hose days. Earlier we didn’t need to call it organic. It was just there. It’s a blip and not a trend. The way communication has changed has changed through medium is noteworthy. What’s in for one country might not be the same in another one. When pizza comes to home it’s a blip and not even worth discussing about. When there’s a mass movement then it is a trend. Now, we’ll see a lot of seasonal and hyper-local food items as the emerging trend. Freshness is going to be the flavour.
In an age of packed food how can people go back to healthy cooking?
It’s us who have to be healthy or not healthy. The food doesn’t catch fever. It’s all need based. We just have to understand that we need to listen to our body and eat accordingly. Each body is unique in its own way, understand that and eat the relevant kind of food.
Padma Award for cooking establishes it as a highly skillful blend of art and science. But still chefs are under-represented in the areas of recognition. Your thoughts.
It’s the role that you play also makes you worthy of representation. The area of impact has to be large enough for the circle of influence. That’s when people will start to notice. For example, Akshaya Patra is preparing tons of food for the hungry children in India and look they are known for doing that.
— Saima Afreen