‘Naans of Old Delhi in­spire me’

Food has the power to make a per­son forget ev­ery­thing else, says Chef Vikas Khanna

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Variety - Henna Rakheja ■ henna. rakheja@ hin­dus­tan­times. com

Dur­ing my col­lege days, I worked for a five-star in Dhaula Kuan and we used to go all the way to Old Delhi to visit Kal­lan Sweets near Jama Masjid,” says a nos­tal­gic chef Vikas Khanna, dur­ing his re­cent trip to the city.

Though a Miche­lin-star chef ’s life is bound to re­volve around food, it is sur­pris­ing to know that there are still a few things he yearns to recre­ate in his kitchen. “I still re­mem­ber the pa­neer jalebi dur­ing Ramzan and the meat wale chawal,” says Khanna, adding, “Even now, I try to recre­ate this in my kitchen, the earthy salti­ness in the naan that they make in Old Delhi. They are so soft and melt-in-your-mouth… I guess they let the dough fer­ment out­side. They in­spire me ev­ery time to go back and recre­ate the same flavour in my kitchen.”

Var­i­ous other dishes come to his mind as the dis­cus­sion drifts to his sec­ond chil­dren’s sto­ry­book, The Milk Mous­tache. He says, “My work can be ab­stract, but it has to be orig­i­nal.” He adds, “Re­cently I met the Dalai Lama and asked him about his favourite mem­ory of food, and he sat in front of me laugh­ing like a child... that is the power of food. It makes you forget ev­ery­thing else.”

Khanna then be­gins to pon­der over his life’s jour­ney, from cre­at­ing buf­fet for wed­dings at a pop­u­lar ban­quet in South Delhi, to cook­ing the most ex­pen­sive à la carte menu in New York; he shares some lesser known facts about his life. “I miss the suji ka halwa my grand­mother used to make on my birth­day. Things have changed now, and birth­days are more about cakes and pas­tries. Even Del­hi­ites have de­vel­oped a much global palate…” he signs off.

Even now, I try to recre­ate the earthy salti­ness in the naans they make in Old Delhi. They are so soft

— Vikas Khanna, chef

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