‘Naans of Old Delhi inspire me’
Food has the power to make a person forget everything else, says Chef Vikas Khanna
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