If we were rewriting mythology, we’d sure create a Food Devta, who’d be forever blessing us with Lasagna, Biryani, Pasta, Butter Chicken, Samosas, Paneer Tadka, Kebabs, Hummus, Felafel, Pizzas, Burgers, Endless summer smoothies, chocolate-Oreo-Nutella-brownies and what not! (Already salivating.)
There’s no love greater than good food and a heavenly drink!
But wait, we’re back to reality and there’s so much Food to choose from and venture beyond Dal Makhani and Naan (though that’s a kingly feast!), we seldom find the experimenting streak in the Indian food scene. Confused? trying the Spanish Paella or Cheesecakes with an Indian twist may sound like the Ultimate food porn your stomach needs!
Think we’re kidding?
Meet Saaransh Goila, the young gun whose book “India on my platter” is taking the Culinary world by storm and how! In this conversation, we get you some finger lickin good food hacks and a peep into his world, that starts with Belgian Chocolate, goes all the way to South Indian Idlis and dodges back to yummy desi paranthas, and then goes Far East with momos and gets you the best of ALL worlds!
1. What inspired you to be a chef?
My first tryst with the apron, knife and spatula came at the age of 12. Inspired by mom and grandpa, i stepped into the culinary field as my passion for food grew. The humble Aloo parantha that i first made and then every Sunday, soon turned into full-fledged meals for family dinners and functions. And those parathas became an instant hit among the family members. But the first time I really thought of food as a career option was in the 12th grade when I was studying to be an engineer and failing miserably at it. I had always thought of the kitchen as an outlet for my creative instincts and found pride and joy in cooking new dishes. I also often watched food TV shows and dreamt of sharing my cooking ability with others.
My grandfather, who was an exceptional cook himself, one day suggested to me that I wasn’t born to be a scientist or an engineer. He saw me as a passionate, creative guy who loves cooking and eating and he believed I should consider food as a career option. Based on that, I began applying to catering colleges alongside engineering colleges and to my good fortune, I passed all the required exams for the prestigious catering schools. There was no looking back after that and I followed my passion to pursue cooking as a full-time career.
2. Were you not toted by questions like “beta doctor bano.” “Beta engineering karo.”?
I was but I had a very supportive grandfather and my parents even though they wanted me to do engineering were very supportive of what I really wanted to do and my dreams.
3. What was your reaction when you faced Chef Sanjeev Kapoor for the first time?
I have to say *Total FANBOY moment*. I felt this amazing connection and lots of positive energy and i told myself “This is it. You are meant to be here and you’re destined to be mentored by your idol”. For me – it was a dream come true.
4. Tell us something about your baby, “India on my platter.”
I am not married and I don’t have a baby but now I think I know what commitment means and how tough having a baby would be!
All courtesy India on my Platter. The book is all about a chefs (in this case – me) travel stories, recipes, food tales and adventures around the country that changed his life and outlook as a chef. It is a 20,000 km road journey across India, covering 60 cities and 25 states. It is also packed with list of dishes to eat in each of the places that I visited and at times their recipes too.
5. Out of the whole experience, which one was your absolute favourite?
Day 80 – Varanasi
“I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and hired a boat to go on the Ganga. I decided that this day was important because I was going to cook, while floating atop the river. Many artists and poets have been inspired by this place and have created great pieces of art. I wanted to use the inspiration to create a dish worth the ghats of Varanasi. My producer, Anshul, first laughed off the idea. He then took up the challenge to execute the whole scene on a boat. There were two cameras, one on my boat and one on a boat floating next to me. It was a mini adventure, which turned out to be pretty successful. Even though the sunrise looks almost the same every day, this sunrise was special for all of us. We started shooting as the sun rose and the first light of the day blessed my cooking and my dish.”
6. In 3 words, how’d you describe your own book?
Simple, Honest, Readable.
7. How has the journey of promoting the book been so far?
The response has been overwhelming and beyond expectations. Never knew that a food memoir could make its own niche in the market. We wanted to do something different and the gamble payed off. The food community has been very kind and i am very thankful to them for supporting my dream. Also i got a chance to travel 10 cities in India again to promote the book and a bit of the US as well, both have added to my cooking repertoire.
8. Any special moment that will remain with your for the lifetime?
First dish I ever really cooked was Aloo Parathas for 15 odd people on a late Mehndi night at a family wedding. I will never forget how many people I shocked that night.
9. One quick DIY recipe for all the lazy foodies out there?
- 300g Paneer (Cottage cheese)
- 2 ½ tablespoons Achari Masala
- 100g Hung Curd
- 20g Bean Sprouts
- 1 piece Iceberg Lettuce
- 50g Butter
- 30g Peeled Garlic
- 6 pieces Bread Buns
- 1 tablespoon Refined Flour
- 2 tablespoons Mustard Oil
- Heat mustard oil to a smoking point, and then add achari masala to it. Cook the spice mix nicely. Take it off heat, let it cool down for 10 minutes.
- Add this spice mix into hung curd. Mix nicely.
- Cut cubes of paneer, and marinate it with the pickled curd marinade for 5 minutes.
- Shred the lettuce, and store it in chilled water.
- Now cook the paneer on medium flame, add refined flour, and cook for 3-5 minutes. Once cooked evenly, keep it aside.
- Add chopped garlic to softened butter. Now spread this butter on half-sliced buns.
- Toast these buns on a non-stick pan or in the oven.
- Assemble the canapé — Take the toasted bread. Place lettuce leaves on it. Add the pickled paneer on the top.
- Garnish with sprouts, and serve.
NOTE: You can use chicken instead of paneer. Marinate it for longer though.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
10. Some food hacks off your feather, please?
If you have leftovers, simply give them a makeover!
1. Leftover butter chicken + toss with freshly boiled spaghetti = Lunch is ready.
2. Leftover chopped pizza + beat 4/5 eggs + chopped spinach and mushrooms + seasoning + dry herbs. Mix all in a bowl, add Cheese and bake 10 minutes at 180 C.
3. Make a noodles toastie from leftover noodles. Spread schezwan sauce on the bread, and you’re good to go!
4. Toss leftover rice with curd to make curd rice. Or with veggies to make fried rice. Or with readymade soups for a bowl meal. Or with a tempering to make tawa or masala pulao.
Our in house Food Blogger, Miss Joshita Bhasin gave Saransh’s DIY dish a hit in her unique way of honouring him. Here’s a glimpse!