Gourmet temptations

Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor tempts the audience with his quicksilver cooking moves.

Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor tempts the audience with his quicksilver cooking moves.  

THE DISCREET clinking of coffee cups against saucers was the only sound that punctuated the quiet hum of conversation as women draped in silks and pearls seated themselves at a hall in a city hotel. Set up in front of the restive audience was a well-organised kitchen, bursting with herbs and non-stick pans in every shape and size.

Before you could say `kadai', Chef Sanjeev Kapoor appeared, slid behind the cooking range and grabbed a pan, and the smell of sizzling herbs in olive oil filled the room. Kapoor, known for cooking up a storm in Khana Khazana, which has the distinction of being the longest running cookery show on television, was in the city to release his new book, `Anytime Temptations' and also give a few tips to members of the Duchess club and their guests how to wield a mean spatula.

And while the olive oil sputtered besides the salad dressing, Kapoor fielded a flood of questions, from the kitchen enthusiasts, and the plain curious. A young lady, who asks Kapoor if he is has ever cooked in front of 350 women in one room gets the ball rolling. In reply, an unfazed and visibly-amused Kapoor said that since he cooked in front of 450 million women every week, this was a snap, and went on to energetically whisk together fresh herbs and pepper for his first dish for the day - grilled chicken and olive salad.

The tone was set for the day's cooking session. Kapoor liberally peppered his demonstration with tips on everything from chopping vegetables to picking the right oil for a recipe. The salad was followed by `Grilled Paneer with Honey Sauce', which had the entire hall leaning forward and sniffing the aromas of nutmeg and pepper corns, which took over the room, as the Chef saut�ed the paneer, professionally tossing it with ease.

Finally, the grand finale, a rich chocolate mousse slathered with heavy cream, which Kapoor whisked as he simultaneously provided solutions for kitchen disasters like, "What do you do if you beat the cream so vigorously that it becomes butter - make cookies."

At the rate in which Kapoor boils and steams, it looks like he might just eventually run out of recipes, especially since he says that he never ever repeats one because that would bore him. And, to ensure that he never get bored and keep his passion for cooking, he has a finger in many different pies. He consults for hotels, has his own chain of restaurants, and of course writes cookery books.

"I love food. I love ingredients," he says. "Wherever I go people only talk to me about food. As I believe in sharing knowledge, people share their recipes with me, so I'm constantly learning," he says in an attempt to explain how he never runs out of food ideas.

By Shonali Muthalaly

Photo: S. Thanthoni

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