Sanjeev Kapoor speaks to Chitra Swaminathan about his South Indian breakfast and the recipe for a good life. Meet the master chef today at a live in demonstration presented by The Hindu
Guess what’s the staple breakfast of the man who has been tossing up inventive flavours for over four decades and garnished the art of cooking with science (nutritional balance) and economics (go local)? Fluffy idlis and crisp, wafer-thin dosas accompanied by a variety of chutneys.
“My daughter is amazed that I can have them 365 days,” laughs supercook Sanjeev Kapoor. Any wonder then that he always looks forward to visiting Chennai? “Believe me, I was delighted when once my flight back to Mumbai was cancelled since I got to discover the taste of the well-known Murugan Idli here.”
He has a 24-hour cooking channel FoodFood, his trendsetting ‘Khana Khazana’ is the longest-running (for around 20 years) TV show in Asia, his website gets around 7 million hits a month and he has penned more than 150 titles in English, Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati, most of them bestsellers. Yet, Kapoor stresses on food that is simple, seasonal, regional and, of course, traditional.
“Please don’t experiment because it is fashionable. As with clothes, it’s comfort that matters most. If you do not like the taste or cannot afford a certain ingredient or if it is not available easily, don’t feel compelled to use it.”
According to Kapoor, health is a wholesome concept; it does not pertain just to food. “You cannot always blame it on your much-proven platter, handed-down over centuries and put together keeping in mind the culture and climate of the region. Moderation is the key. Also stop abusing the body. It needs enough rest and exercise. Sleep well, worry less. And most important, keep the environment clean. Pollution is the cause of most physical ills,” he sums up.
Both on his TV and live shows, Kapoor makes it a point to help people rustle up dishes over which they need not have to fret and fume. He teaches them recipes they can enjoy making. “I want people to romance cooking. Our daily routine has rendered the process dreary and cumbersome. I help add the essential ingredients of excitement and imagination,” he quips. And what about eating out becoming an indulgence with the mushrooming of hip multi-cuisine restaurants and cooking turning into a glamorous vocation? “It’s great to see the growing opportunities for foodies and aspiring chefs. But I am often worried about unrealistic trends. Being a chef is a lot of hard work. It’s not easy to express yourself through food and reach hearts through the stomach,” he laughs again.
So how does he handle his ‘celebrity chef’ tag?
“Of course, people’s love fills me with a positive energy to keep wielding the ladle. But I have never been comfortable being referred to as a celebrity. Instead I want to continue doing things that are celebrated. I am just a man who knows to cook!”
The Hindu presents Sanjeev Kapoor Live in Demonstration today (10.30 a.m. to 3 p.m.) at Radisson Blu, Egmore. For tickets priced at Rs. 2,000 (including lunch) call 98409 55556 or visit www.bookmyshow.com