Food Talk: Chef Vikas Khanna
You started cooking at a very young age, what is your philosophy of cooking?
When we were growing up, there was no internet, it was what we saw and learnt from our elders at home. Our cooking influences were very limited as opposed to what it is today.We couldn't YouTube recipes! As I travel in time, food was something simple then, but had the strength to bind people. I believe that ingredients should shine more than anything else; if its fish, then that should be the king of the dish, than other ingredients. The trick is to have balanced flavours, that's what creates the perfect taste.
What does cooking mean to you?
Cooking means more than just dishing one cuisine after another. It means unity and oneness. I still believe that food has the power to break boundaries. Another important aspect is how one serves food; it has to bring out the love, affection and the effort gone into making it. I believe in extremely simple cooking and not so much in modernisation. So, it's a sacred expression for me!
What was it like to win the Michelin Star?
A Michelin Star is a big reward for our nation.Winning it in New York means a lot for me and for our country. If you can do it there, you can do it anywhere!
Who are your favourite Michelin Star Chefs and why?
I have too many of them. But if I had to name one, it would be Chef Daniel Boulud. Eating at his restaurant has been one of my most favourite dining experiences. He was, and will always remain, a role model for me. I would also like to name Sanjeev Kapoor, as he is not just one of my favourite chefs, but one of the pioneers who has put Indian cooking on the global food map.
What is your take on global cuisine?
What I am trying to do is not go global, but India centric. Now that I am in India, I am trying to go to diverse and unexplored places that I have never visited. There is a lot to learn from the roots of a country. The change in cooking has been tremondous with a drastic inflow of international styles. India has a huge influence in world kitchens in terms of flavours and techniques.
What was your experience like, serving at the White House?
I cooked a saatvik meal for the Dharmic Seva Conference for Hindu American Seva Charities at the White House and I think it was great to serve and speak about Indian food and culture. The dinner was a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi which included ingredients like goat cheese.
When can we expect a restaurant in India from you?
I plan to start a restaurant at Bodh Gaya as it is my dream destination. To set up there would make an evolved statement with a deeper connection with attention to culture and the Himalayan cuisine.
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