Interview: Up Close and Personal With Indian Food and Cuisine Guru SANJEEV KAPOOR (Audio)

By Bidisha Bagchi

Click Play to listen to Sanjeev Kapoor | WBRi On-Demand Audio Broadcast Service

Michigan, USA, Feb 16, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) He became a household name in India with his super hit cookery show on the Indian Television. Everyone who was passionate about cooking or eating waited eagerly for him to appear on the screen and teach them some exotic dish in the simplest way. Yes, we are talking about Khana Khazana and the internationally acclaimed master chef Mr. Sanjeev Kapoor.

Atul Maru, Madhuri Dixit and Sanjeev Kapoor
Sanjeev Kapoor (right) at launch of Sanjeev Kapoor's Kitchen DVD by Madhuri Dixit. Atul Maru, Jt. MD, Shemaroo Entertainment at left.

On a crisply cold Thursday morning WBRi caught up with the super chef and chatted about Indian food in the USA, his books, the upcoming Varli food fest in New York and his TV channel, ‘Food Food’ that he started exclusively for food.

So how did this idea of starting a channel exclusively for food come to him?

He said, when he first started his TV show he knew that there was always room for a TV channel being only focused on food. In India there were channels exclusively for sports, music, movies so why not one on food? Like in America, the food network has its own channel and there is great demand for it. So he always thought somebody should do it but never imagined that he would be the one starting it.

Indian cuisine has so much of varieties, each region has its own specialty, in spite of that the current generation is more into fast food. WBRi asked him what he thought attracted them to this western styled food leaving behind all the regional delicacies that India has to offer? He said it was the packaging and the marketing strategy of these restaurants but they are also bringing in the Indian tastes, for eg the Aloo Tikki burger. He said it was nothing more than a vada pav just packaged and named differently. He also cited the example of noodles that are sold in our country, majority are Masala based or even the Pizzas that have Tandoori Chicken toppings. All of these have the Indian touch. And then again there’s a saying ‘Ghar ki murgi daal barabar’ (Familiarity breeds contempt).

When asked his view about the United States, he says it’s a country of opportunities and it attracts and influences people from all over the world in a very healthy way. And people can succeed in many things that they would want to try out. From software to restaurants and from hotels to motels, Indians are doing well everywhere.

He has written about 140 books on cookery and recently he launched a book for the American market called ‘How to cook Indian’. That’s his favorite book too as it highlights cuisines from all parts of India and has about five hundred recipes. The book was promoted in different parts of United States and got very good response from the local Americans as well the South Asian community.

So what is his favorite food? He says, no matter which part of the World he is in, home styled/cooked food is his favorite.

About the upcoming Varli food fest in New York, he said he is associated with this festival since its inception and he quite enjoys it as it is a sort of celebration of food and people associated with food from all parts of the World. It is fun and frolic time with food and the largeness associated with it it is sure to grow into something big in years to come.

In one of his cookery show episodes, when he was teaching how to cook ‘Dal Makhani’ a viewer had asked him if she could use anything else instead of butter. And he had very calmly replied ‘Aap salad khaiye’ (please eat salad) It was hilarious. But this was almost 10 years back and when WBRi asked him, in today’s ‘healthy food’ scenario what would his answer be? He said, his answer would be the same. One wouldn’t be eating large quantities of Dal Makhni everyday and nothing is bad if consumed in small or moderate quantities. Every dish has its own specialty and that cannot be compromised by adding something that is not a part of the main ingredients. Rather eat well, exercise well and stay fit!

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