Culinary secrets revealed

The Guide caught up with Masterchef India Season One winner, Chef Pankaj Bhadouria, at the launch of her new recipe book Masterchef India: Cookbook

After winning the title of the first Masterchef from India Pankaj Bhadouria shot to instant fame. She was invited to Cambridge University to demonstrate her culinary skills at the World Food Festival. Pankaj's journey has been a dream run that most Indian housewives would like to live.

Pankaj Bhadouria with her cookbook

The lady has a funny take on her journey though. "My kids and my husband were very happy as they were getting to eat something new everyday," she laughs.

Changing perceptions
During her journeys abroad and during her demo at Cambridge University, Pankaj realised that the perception about Indian food was inconsistent. "Abroad, Indian food is considered to be about really spicy curries floating in oil.

I thought it worthwhile to change the perception, which is why I introduced recipes like Chicken NO-Butter Masala. The taste and colours remained the same but the recipe became more health-conscious," she adds.
When asked how Indian food has evolved over the years, she says, "I started cooking when I was 12.

Nowadays mothers have become more health-conscious. There were no non-stick utensils that used less oil then and there weren't healthy ingredients available at every store." The Masterchef cookbook has recipes from Pankaj while Masterchef judges Chef Kunal Kapoor and Ajay Chopra have contributed some international recipes for the book. Pankaj admits that the target audience for her book is anyone who wants to cook something extraordinary.

Setting a high bar for success
It won't be long before the second Masterchef is crowned. So what does Pankaj think about the current crop of amateur chefs on the show? "They are very promising. They are better prepared than we were and believe me you need to be prepared. In a way, its like we gave the first IIT entrance exam and now that the model exam papers are available the next batch knows the format," she explains.

She adds that there are several talented cooks in the competition and she considers Jyoti reaching the top 40 as a great achievement. Now that her reign as the Masterchef is almost over, Pankaj has a lot on her plate including another cook book. The theme for it based on her journey on the cookery show. Also on the cards is her second restaurant in Lucknow and an array of endorsements. But she emphasises that it will not deter her from her first love and the reason behind the fame and adulation: Cooking.

Book available At Landmark outlets at SGS Mall, Camp and Kakde Mall University Road. Cost Rs 350

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