The TasTe Of avadh
MOST OF us know Ranveer Brar from TV; from the shows he did on Khaana Khazana (now Living Foodz) and most significantly, from the one season of Masterchef India which he judged. Because he is good-looking and personable, I suspect that many people regard him as a mere TV chef, the sort of Punjabi hunk who looks good on TV but doesn’t really bother too much with cooking. It doesn’t help that he has never had a signature restaurant of his own in India where we can go to and try his food.
I know Ranveer only slightly. We have met briefly at events and we were both at Noma Australia in Sydney earlier this year on the same night. But I was always intrigued by the respect that other chefs hhadd ffor him.hi MMostt workki to chat about food. When we sat and talked, I was struck by how different he is in real life from his TV persona. Offcamera, he is shy, a little introverted and so cerebral that he may well over-think everything. The “Brar” in his name marks his ancestry – Punjabi landowners – but is also little misleading. He was brought up in Lucknow and his background and training are in Avadhi food. At a young age, he ran away from home, he says, and apprenticed himself to Ustad Munir Ahmed, one of Lucknow’s oldest kabab vendors. (He had a small shack behind Odeon cinema.)
While Ranveer would go on to join the IHM, Lucknow and was one of the few chefs selected in 1999 to join the Taj Management Training Programme through a campus placement,lt I reckonk ththatt his real training came during that stint with the Ustad.U
Ranveer has a new book out ( Come Into My Kitchen – HarperCCollins) which is marketed in the usual way withh a cover photo of him gazing wistfully into the distance.d
I reckon the phhoto will help sell the book. But it may do a disservice to the seriousness of the contents. There is an autobiographical introduction and an explannation of how tastes, textures and flavours are coombined, followed by a string of recipes, somme of which are imaginative (Watermeloon dosas; honestly!) while others incluude his own interpretations of classicc dishes.
It was while talking about the classsics that we discussed the secrets of Avadhi cuisine. As you probably know, the great chefs of Avaadh never part with their secreet recipes. (Almost every single reccipe you have read for a traditioonal kabab, korma or a biryani is a lie; the chef has left out a key
A TIIME TO REIMAGINE
Ranv eer Brar wants to see if some of the smmoke and sandalwood fl avours of a