Need culinary tips from a Master Chef? Meet Shazia Khan who will be in Chennai on March 9

Shazia Khan talks to herself while she’s cooking, and sometimes dreams up recipes when she’s asleep. “I often wake up and make a note of it,” she laughs adding, “Even when I am walking I think of recipes…kitchen, recipes and I have a constant relationship.”

Her passion for cooking is apparent considering she was the runner-up at Master Chef India 2. “My sons asked me to apply. So I made a call and after an interview I was shortlisted. I was called to Delhi and for the first round we had to prepare something from home. I made my favourite Shahi zaffran pulao, a recipe that’s simple but appears elaborate. I was shortlisted from among thousands of applicants then I gradually made my way up to the top 12 and then ended up coming second,” she says. The show, she believes, has given her an identity of her own…earlier she was always known as Mrs. Khan but now it’s Chef Shazia.

She first tried her hand at cooking when she was nine — custard with fruits is what she prepared. Her parents, grandmother and mother-in-law are all great cooks. But it was after marriage that her interest grew and she would look up recipes on television and online and try them out. Now of course the expert cook has numerous recipes of her own. “I enjoy tweaking recipes and giving them a touch of my own,” she adds.

Never did she imagine that what started out as a hobby would bring her recognition, globally. Shazia now travels all over conducting workshops. She was in New York recently and will be in Chennai soon to impart her culinary expertise. “I will teach participants fusion and modern Indian cooking using what is available in the kitchen. I find very often we don’t get the right ingredients here and stress about it. In addition I’ll be giving them tips about food presentation, nutrition and health, ” says the 35-year-old. That apart this master chef is also working on a book that deals with two concepts — healthy cooking for kids and different kinds of biryani made in Muslim households. Shazia who is a member of the board of management at Delhi Public School, Bangalore plans to start a culinary school and train underprivileged women on food etiquette and more.

And any word of encouragement for people who despise cooking? “They should give it a shot and start with easy recipes. It’s not rocket science; it’s about innovation. Nowadays cooking is the in thing, its very stylish and even television has so many cookery shows.”

At her home too cookery shows dominate most of the television air time. And no, the family doesn’t complain. Her teenage sons are quite clued in too. “Since they watch these shows they know a lot of cooking techniques. They are my biggest critics,” she adds.

Shazia Khan will conduct a workshop on March 9 at Radisson Blu, Egmore. For details, call 99625 87884