Because he is a Punjabi, he didn’t need a mike to conduct his most recent live cook-off session, at the Imperial’s Culinary Club event a few days back. Michelin Chef Vikas Khanna made himself well audible with his witty bon-mots and charming one-liners, proving to be the quintessential funny guy who always gets the audience by his side. ‘‘I am an easy-going, fun-loving guy but I never want my demeanour to take away from my cooking. There are two things I love the most in this world—my mother and my grandmother’s kitchen—from where I have learnt more than I could ever learn overseas,” he says.
Embracing some of his favourite dishes from aamchi Mumbai, Chef Khanna also launched his book, Savour Mumbai, as a tribute to the city of dreams. Mumbai, according to him, is a melting pot of modern and traditional Indian recipes. You will find Maharashtrian, Parsi, Gujarati, Konkani, street food and a lot more in its pages. ‘‘If you cannot make a food pilgrimage to Mumbai soon, here is a piece of Mumbai we have created for your kitchens,” he says in his usual excited way.
For the afternoon of the culinary cook-off, he chooses to showcase handpicked recipes from different parts of India that have been huge hits with Mumbaikars, like Kaju Kothambir Vadi from Maharashtra, Khubani Ka Shahi Tukda from Lucknow, Guava and Cottage Cheese Salad from Allahabad, Kacche Kele ki Asharfi from Hyderabad and Chicken Cafreal from Goa. ‘‘I once had an 80-year-old woman come down to my restaurant in New York with her family. Suddenly, one of the stuarts came rushing into the kitchen and said the lady on table number five is crying bitterly. I rushed out to see what had gone wrong. When I saw the old woman crying, I didn’t know how to console her. On asking why she was weeping, she told me it was because the Kaju Kothambir Vadi that she had ordered was just like what she used to have in her childhood and she had been unable to get the same flavour in any other restaurant all these years. These are the rewards I have earned, much more than the money, popularity or being listed as one of the sexiest men alive,” he says.
The Sunday Standard