The lockdown has brought abundant epiphanies and opportunities for all of us, alike. Regardless of who you are. This sentiment was reaffirmed as we got a chance to chat with our very own My Yellow Table chef – Kunal Kapur. Here is his exclusive interview with GOODTiMES talking about his personal life, reminiscing old memories, and giving us some quick cooking hacks!
GT: The lockdown has taught us many lessons, what is your biggest takeaway from this period?
KK: The lockdown is something which I have never experienced before. It has taught me that nothing is stable & forever. You have to keep your hope alive, adapt and move on. You, also, have to keep your loved ones closer to you all the time.
GT: How do you keep yourself entertained during house arrest? Have you picked up a new hobby?
KK: Well working on my next book to some self-shot cooking videos take up quite a bit of my time. I enjoy reading, light workout & definitely some “me time”. They are the perks of this lockdown.
GT: Do you enjoy cooking at home for family? What is their favourite dish?
KK: I have been staying alone after my separation so I cook a lot for me. Of course, I love cooking for my parents as & when I can.
GT: Most memorable moment as a culinary student?
KK: There are so many, but the first time I won an award in the 2nd year of college for vegetable carving, that was very special.
GT: Any cooking accidents that turned into incredible new dishes?
KK: Yes (laughs), happens all the time! I had spilled spinach puree once on a plate which my senior chef thought was excellent plating. So, the learning here is that all accidents & mistakes teach us something.
GT: Who was the first inspiration for you to cook?
KK: All the men in my big Punjabi family as I was growing up.
GT: In these times when people can’t go out, what are the 5 essential food items a person should have at their place to cook some easy meals?
KK: Flour, Sugar, Fat (butter or oil), Herbs, Veggies.
GT: Tips to people who are cooking for the first time in this quarantine, suggest some easy recipes they can try?
KK: Here is the recipe of easy-to-make Hash Browns
3 cups grated potatoes
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp. chopped green chillies
1 tbsp. chopped ginger
1 tbsp. coarsely ground coriander seeds
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. chilli flakes
1 tbsp. chopped coriander
1 tbsp. oil
1 tbsp. melted butter
Few herbs sprig
In a bowl, add grated raw potatoes, salt, chopped green chillies, chopped ginger, coarsely ground coriander seeds, cumin, chilli flakes, chopped coriander and mix it. Squeeze out water from the mixture. Heat a tawa, add oil and spread this mixture. Pour oil on sides and melted butter over it. Flip the sides and cook it completely. Garnish with herbs sprigs and serve hot.
GT: How has COVID 19 impacted the restaurants and the food businesses?
KK: The world order for food business has changed. Small, affordable, low cost restaurants are the future for at least the next year. Also cooking at home & delivering is the new normal that people will embrace. Food & restaurants will pick up in time, they always have.
GT: Sustainability is the future. Any kitchen habits that we should all start following?
KK: Growing your own produce, even if it is little, goes a long way to push sustainability and also helps in lowering our carbon footprint. Start with simple herbs in a pot to growing few veggies. Also, people living in housing societies should grow trees & plants that bear edible fruits & veggies, like, lemon trees.
GT: 3 kitchen tools that you swear by?
KK: A good chef’s knife, mixer grinder and an oven.
GT: Any indigenous ingredient that you chanced upon in your travels that blew your mind?
KK: Pathar Ke Phool is used as a spice but in fact it belongs to the “Lichen family”. Potli Masala, to Nihari Masala to Galauti Masala to bottle masala has this spice, here in Uttarakhand I saw it growing wild on rock and tree barks.
GT: Ghar ka khaana or restaurant food, what is you go-to option?
KK: Both! I enjoy ghar ka simple khana but cannot stay away from restaurant food. I cannot choose one I need both.
GT: 3 cuisines or dishes that everyone must try at least once in their lives?
KK: Gujarati cuisine, Kashmiri cuisine, and Tandoori food!
GT: What is the first thing you want to do once the lockdown is lifted?
KK: Travel to the hills & then to the beach.