Ranveer Brar Curated
Indian Celebrity Chef & Judge
CURATED BY :
What was your childhood like? How and when did you fall in love with food?
What are some of the kitchen tips, tricks and hacks that you have learnt in your journey?
How did you become a chef?
Do you have any advice for dieting and fitness?
What are your recommendations for healthy snacking?
What are your top 3 cooking tips?
What is the most common mistake people make while cooking?
How do men cook differently from women?
Woman always cook with patience. Men, as far as my experience goes, are brilliant at executing complicated and “different dishes”. Restaurants driven by women chefs are always more consistent with their product. Also, woman respond well to how they feel and the food is very emotionally driven as opposed to being recipe driven.
What’s the one cooking experience that you can never forget?
Cooking at “chefs in shorts”, Boston. It is a ticketed open air event at the Wharf where more than 50 of the top chefs from Boston get together to cook their signature barbeque dishes. It’s a memorable experience with more than 3,000 people attending this event that takes place for nearly four hours.
What is your signature dish?
Dorra kebab is my signature dish. It is a kebab cooked on a smoked silken thread. It is as tender as the Kakori (if not more) with tones of sandal and rose.
Which is your favourite cooking ingredient?
Long pepper (Peepli in Urdu). I use it extensively across all cuisines for the sweet sharpness that it lends to dishes. I have steeped it in milk, which I then boil and use for dessert sauces and custard bases. It comes out amazing.
How did Raja Rasoi Aur Andaaz Anokha come to be?
The show on Epic Channel has been one of my favorites ever since it came on air. In fact I almost did the first season of the show and shot a pilot for it too. Unfortunately, schedules overlapped and it didn’t work out then. It’s amazing how the universe sent it back my way and I got to be a part of Season 3.
In every episode of the show Raja Rasoi Aur Andaaz Anokha you share stories and anecdotes about the food you prepare. Tell us how important these stories are for understanding and preserving the rich and cosmopolitan culture of this country?
Be it discovering a new dish or retasting an old one, it is the stories about food that establish our connection to it. When we hear an anecdote about a particular dish or its ingredients, it makes the whole experience of eating even more memorable. Take our festivals for instance, the food prepared is in sync with seasons and it influences what and how people eat during these festivals. Understanding where we come from, where our food comes from, food practices, ingredients goes a long way in appreciating what we have. It forms a bond that naturally makes us protective of that legacy.
The local cuisine of a place often gets affected according to the number of tourists who arrive there expecting familiar tastes. Is there a way to strike a balance between the two?
Touristic expectations at a culinary level stem from two things broadly – first is the perception they build on the basis of information they find online. The second is the individual's perception of taste and his/her food preferences. The food and culture of any place go hand in hand. It is equally important to appreciate and preserve the culinary heritage of a place, which is what makes it stand out at the end of the day. Certain establishments do draw inspiration from the local food to recreate those tastes and present a more balanced and modern take on traditional foods. But then, the true essence of the local cuisine of any place in the world lies in its street food.
With more than half of the world’s population residing in cities now, food is being industrialized at a global scale. This has put indigenous food cultures including traditional cooking techniques around the world at the great risk of being lost forever. In light of this, tell us how concepts like slow food and farm to table can be revived among the masses?
These concepts can definitely be revived among the masses very simply by incorporating agriculture and farmers into the conversation as much as we can. We are reaching a stage where the source of food has become markets and supermarkets. On a sub-conscious level, we are becoming unaware of the original source, which is land. In that context, I believe that creating conversations around the land and farmers is the first step towards creating actual awareness about the food. Steps like these also work towards reviving concepts like slow food, farm to table and so on. For instance, at Fort Alila and Bishangarh, we have set up an organic farm close to one of the restaurants. Here guests can choose their ingredients and have them cooked right away! It is a humble effort, but aims to connect patrons directly to the food source. Also, while people have glamourized farming and there are a lot of urban farmers who have made farming look cool, there’s still the original farmer who is struggling to make ends meet. I feel they need to be spoken about just as fervently as the urban farmer, so the benefits actually reach them. It’s equally important to pledge to eat local and seasonal, if not ultra-local then definitely seasonal because it makes us think, study and research what’s available at a given time of the year. It will also benefit producers and allow them to grow what nature allows them to grow. This then eventually leads to a healthier ecosystem overall.
Tell us about some of the most interesting cuisines you encountered on your travels across India.
It’s difficult to pin it down to a few since we have such a rich culinary map. But if I have to name a favorite few, I would say Lucknowi (which I grew up with and am partial to), Goan Saraswat, as well as Goan in general, and Syrian Catholic.
Please share a simple local recipe from anywhere in the country.
I happened to visit a small village near Jodhpur inhabited by the Bishnoi tribe who set a wonderful example of living in harmony with nature. Here, I met an interesting personality called Shanti Devi who treated me to an amazing meal consisting of rabodi, a simple sabzi made of sun-dried jowar papads and raab, a buttermilk drink thickened with bajra flour. I was further amazed when she told me that she could prepare at least 50 dishes using only those ingredients!
What is that one thing that comes to your mind, when we talk about food? Describe your relationship with food!
Purely bliss and gratitude! For me, one should be thankful and happy that they have food in their life. As far as my theory goes, the relationship between food and me is that of giving, i.e., for me food always gives back. If I am giving something to food, it always gives me back; in easier terms, it provides life at the basic level. Without food, there is no life and it gives you happiness as well. For me, food is self-realisation and memories. So, if you look at the bigger picture then you will get to know that food is connected to each and everything in our life and that is why, food is a giver.
Please tell us about the food culture of your hometown, Lucknow and how did your fascination with food start? Also, tell us about your first food experience.
It’s a very infectious food culture in Lucknow, if I may use that word because every time you go to Lucknow, you come back realising that you are infected with the passion for food. Food has been passed from generation to generation in Lucknow, which reflects in the smallest of things that you see around. There is a passion for food in the people of Lucknow, which has been passed from 3rd generation to 4th generation, and it is appreciated by them all! My fascination with food started at a very young age. In my initial years, my grandfather used to drive me around and he would make me visit the Gurudwara. That’s when I started taking interest in cooking. I started off with making the langar in that Gurudwara. I was just 15, when I decided that it is THE thing I want to do! When my interest grew, I started going to the streets and visited a few places and that was when I took cooking seriously in my life. This was also the time when the real passion for food struck me and you would not believe it, but I was only 16 and a half at that time and had completed my 12th class.
An international food trend that is yet to catch on in India?
I think we should rather talk more about Indian foodgrains. We live in a world where we get fed and informed about what to eat from the West. We should instead eat what grows here. It helps create a better demand and somewhere helps the farmers. That’s the only trend I want to talk about.
While unearthing the food secrets, was there anything that was an eye-opener to you?
A lot of things were eye-openers to me. Just the statistics and the numbers are bewildering. If you had to look at the chicken consumption throughout the world... trillions of tonnes per day... the amount of oranges that are sold in supermarkets in England alone... it’s bewildering!
Are there any myths that you want to bust?
The biggest myth is that cooking is a complicated discipline. It is difficult but not impossible to master cooking.
These days people want to eat right, know what they are eating. There’s a shift in people’s mindset as compared to the past. What’s your take on that?
Absolutely. We are now a back-of-the-pack country and no longer the-front-of-the-pack-country. I work with a lot of food brands and that's what the learning is. In today's India, you flip the box over and you read what's in the box, rather than just seeing the branding because it's all bright and colourful, and has your favourite colours and your favourite characters on it. That's why most of the back-of-the-pack things are now moving to the front. Now, the front of a product itself will say, 'No Gluten', 'No this or that', 'No fat', because brands understand people want to go beyond what they see.
Things which millennials are doing wrong, food-wise?
The first thing they're doing wrong is that they are taking their lessons from the West. Secondly, they are looking for perfection in the ingredients. Thirdly, they believe the farmer is this urban cultivator who is growing ingredients for passion and the joy of it. That is their understanding of farm-to-table. They are not aware of the condition of real farmers who toil day in and day out to get food on the table. That perception of an Indian farmer needs to change. The Indian millennial thinks the farmer is this cool guy with two acres of land, who has quit his job and is now farming for strawberries and some organic stuff because he learnt it in Australia. That's not the Indian farmer. The Indian farmer is the guy who's probably at the bottom when it comes to per capita income. And he's still trying to survive in the market where agricultural lands are shrinking and the middlemen are making all the money. And if millennials really want to take up a cause, they should take up the Indian farmer's cause.
Name a few quick snacking options that can be made using three or fewer ingredients.
Guava chat – cut guava with spices on top. Makhana is a great snack. Banana chips – oil, salt and banana. Corn in various forms — such as chats, corn on the cob, etc.
What’s the Indian food influence on Western culture?
The reason the world is having a conversation about turmeric is because of us. The conversation about grains is because of us. The whole reason they are talking about food being used in medicine is also because of us. You know, you go back a little and you'll know there have been only two civilisations that have used food as medicine – China and India.
What, in your opinion, are the secrets to good cooking?
When I started cooking, what I got to know was that there are actually no secrets. The only secret is that cooking is a sum total of basics. You really need to understand the basics, write and break them down in your head. That's essentially what it is.
What are the craziest food secrets that you have unlocked in your career?
The craziest food secret that I have unlocked so far is that the only secret behind cooking good food is to understanding the basics. There are no secret masala in your pocket that can make a difference; it is a collection of basics and experiences that comes together to create good food. Another secret that I discovered over time is that as much it is about the science, it is also about the thought. You’ll never know why and people probably won’t be able to explain it but though always translates into your cooking. A happy thought will translate into a good dish and a bad thought will translate into an average dish. So the state of mind always translates into what we are cooking.
What is that one food secret that you were personally amazed to find out?
So the one food secret that I was personally amazed to find out was about vanilla pods. Every vanilla pod is hand pollinated. They take a toothpick and pollinate each flower by hand so every vanilla pod is a labour of love.
Do share some of the everyday secrets that can make cooking and life so much easier that many people might not know about.
We take soaking for granted. For example grains and lentils are 12 times more nutritional when soaked. A germinated legume is high on nutrition content compared to regular ones. And this is something not many people know. Soaking these also save time and electricity by reducing he cooking time.
What is the best way to get most out of food in terms of nutrition that often gets lost in the cooking process?
Pressure-cooking food is not really good. It destroys a lot of nutrition in the food so never bring any food item to boil on at a pressure-cooker temperature.
Debunk some of the popular myths that people believe about food.
The first myth that people believe in is that the more spices you add the tastier the food becomes. The second myth about food is that a lot of people think overcooking some food items like green leafy vegetables is very necessary to properly cook them but this is untrue. Basically overcooking destroys the vitamins in these items.
What message would you like to give all the home cooks who watch you on TV, get inspired by your style of cooking and aspire to cook like you?
Tell us how to make home food taste like restaurant food. What are your tips to home cooks who want to prepare restaurant style food at home?
You have been running successful restaurants all over. What is that one secret to running a successful restaurant?
Why did you become a chef?
What does partying mean for you?
What was your game changer moment?
Which was your most fond memory on Rohit Shetty’s set?
How did you start your journey as a chef at the age of 17?
How do you feel after reaching a level where there is no looking back?
What do you eat when you visit Lucknow?
You love the Kebabs of Lucknow. What are they made of?
Did you try making the special Kebabs of Lucknow at your shows?
What is that one special thing about Lucknow Kababs that people outside India love?
Is there any cuisine that you have to yet explore?
What is the cuisine that you like the most?
What is your suggestion for every Indian?
What are your tips to become a better cook?
What are the common mistakes that we make while cooking?
What according to you is the best food for diet?
When was the first time you were fascinated by food?
At what age did you start cooking?
What was the turning point in your life?
What do you have to say about Lucknow and its food?
When did you first decide that you wanted to become a cook?
What was your parent’s reaction when they got to know that you wanted to become a cook?
What role did stubbornness play in your life?
What was your first experience after reaching the Hotel School?
At what age did you become an executive chef? How was your life then?
How was life after your restaurant had closed suddenly in the U.S.?
Why do you say failure is your source of strength?
How did you decide to enter the Food Industry?
What made you decide to be a Chef?
What was the first dish you made in your life?
How your parents reacted to your decision of being a Chef?
Did you know that there is a profession `in cooking at that time?
How was your life post your decision to be a Chef?
How did you decide to enter a hotel management college?
When you were the Executive Chef at such a young age, did that success gone to your head?
What made you decide to leave everything in India and go to the USA?
Where your prepared for the transition from a Chef to a Founder or an entrepreneur?
Were you ever interested in the financial side of your company?
What lessons did you learn when you were bankrupt?
How was the second chapter of your life after you went bankrupt?
What is the biggest mistake of a chef according to you?
How many restaurants do you own now?
How has this vision evolved of being a Chef then an Entrepreneur and then a speaker?
What advice would you give to people who want to enter this industry?
What changes would you make in the food sector in this country if you had the ability to do so?
What kind of dilemma you had in your journey?
What is your favorite food?
How involved are you in your own house' looks and feels?
What do you do to space out from everything and be in solitude?
What can people do in their homes to make their food restaurant class?
When did you have that feeling that you wanted to be a professional Chef?
What was your parents' reaction when you decided to remove your turban?
What are your travel, fitness, and food tips?
Tell us about your journey as a chef?
I was fifteen when I decided that food was my true calling and I wanted to pursue it professionally. Up until then, I was simply acquainting myself with food in my hometown Lucknow, being it cooking at the langar, enjoying different cuisines at my neighbours’ homes, exploring the street foods of Lucknow or having conversations with the local grocer. What started as a culinary exploration, gradually grew into a passion.
What’s the one cooking experience that you can never forget?
I once cooked for Shri Vajpayee, We shared anecdotes about our connection with food. That will always be close to heart experience for me.
What is your signature dish?
I wouldn’t exactly call it a signature, but a dish I love to cook because of its sophistication is the Dorra Kebab.
What are your favourite cuisines?
Favourite cuisines…Lucknow tops the list, of course, I love food from the Bengali cuisine as well, having grown up in a Bengali neighbourhood. Internationally, Italian cuisine is my favourite.
Which is your favourite cooking ingredient?
Ghee, maybe because of the Punjabi in me. It just makes you smile! Also coriander.
What is your comfort food?
Comfort food is Panjiri, as also ghee laden parathas.
How did Raja Rasoi Aur Andaaz Anokha come to be?
Raja Rasoi has been my favourite show. Not many people might know this but I almost did Season 1 and even shot a pilot for it, then I got busy and it didn’t work out at that time. So amazingly it came back around and I got to be a part of Seasons 3 and 4.
What is the motivation behind your show?
‘Raja Rasoi’ is the kitchen of abundance. Not the literal meaning of a royal kitchen, but one that is plentiful, opulent. And that’s not just an abundance of ingredients, it’s also an abundance of passion and positivity when cooking.
The dishes you’ve chosen to prepare on the show, do they have any special significance?
Through the show, we have tried to rediscover cooking aspects that are lesser known, for example, Marshall Food, the favourite food of the poets, and many others. But more than the actual dishes and ingredients, it’s the stories and history attached to them that make these cuisines richer, dynamic and versatile. Also the way we have adapted not just food but also ingredients made them our own and lent our unique flavour to them. So the focus is on not just showcasing dishes and recipes but helping viewers establish a connect with the food.
Lighten us about your new show ‘Maa ki Baat’…Why you choose web platform instead of the TV for your new show?
It is a 20 part series. The idea comes from the appreciation (actually under-appreciation) of an Indian senior homemaker and why she doesn’t get the credit she deserves. It’s amazing how a Mother translates her love for the family into food, amongst many other things she does for the household. But how many of us turn around and ask – Maa, tujhe kya pasand hai?!’ So for me, food worked out to be the medium to give her that credit. It seemed like the perfect Ode to all she does for her loved ones. I wanted to experiment with a parallel medium, especially with so much happening in the digital space. I am overwhelmed with the tremendous love and response it has received.
You travel a lot overseas as well. So what type of other country’s culture you love to showcase in your show?
Culture and cuisine go hand in hand. For me, cuisine cannot be studied in isolation. As a food explorer and chef, I need that connect with food, to find out the journey of a dish or ingredient, talk to people, understand what it means to them, their connection with the cuisine. Be it in India or abroad, food is a universal language that brings people together. so it’s aspects like these that I try and bring across in my shows and features.
What type of other cuisines rather than India you like most?
Turkish cuisine is very fascinating for me. How it’s evolved over centuries and civilisations. Scandinavian cuisine is another favourite that I hope to explore more in the near future.
Your inspiration for becoming a chef?
The city where I grew up, the food influences around me, the street food, all these contributed to my growing passion for food and eventually to pursue it single-mindedly.
Your craziest dining experience?
During my last trip to Switzerland, I took a 2 and a half hours to trek up to one of the oldest mountain guesthouses in Switzerland. The place is called Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli and they serve an amazing back to roots cuisine. Another one was a meal at a Tree-top cabin at Soneva Kiri resort in Koh Kood, Thailand.
What is the real essence of being a chef?
The true essence of being a chef is falling in love with food, exploring your love for food, holistically and single-mindedly.
Do chefs really need to be on a TV show?
In this day and age, there are so many versatile and wide-reaching mediums, so it need not be restricted to TV. There’s an immense growth in digital mediums for anyone and everyone who wants to do something in the field of food.
What is the most common mistake that people make while cooking?
Complicating it! Cooking is all about getting the basics right and keeping it simple. You need to trust your instincts and use recipes as guidelines and then what you create is magic..
How is your Master Chef’s experience?
It was an amazing season, shooting with Sanjeev Kapoor and Vikas. We shared terrific camaraderie. Up until then, I was part of shows where I was the one cooking. So to be on the other side of the counter and witness these contestants and their passion for food was a great experience.
Does your family always be supportive when you wanted to become a chef?
Initially there was some resistance to the idea as my family was more comfortable with traditional occupations. But when they saw that I was absolutely decided on it, they gave in.
If Celebrity Chef Ranveer Brar does not be a chef what you would be?
If not a chef, I would have been a wildlife photographer maybe.
What’s your take on finding real Indian food?
Travel. We can find millions of recipes on different mediums, but I strongly feel one must taste the dish at its source in its native form to do it justice.
What is the one dish you can eat every day?
Khichdi, I can eat it any time, any day.
What does Celebrity Chef Ranveer Brar do on lazy weekends?
Cook for the family, typically breakfast, especially for my son Ishaan who loves pancakes in any form!
What are three quick cooking tips you would like to share?
- Let food cook without checking it from time to time. When you are looking, you are not cooking – Cook food till about 90% or just done as it will continue cooking in the residual heat – Keep ingredients handy and in order of addition to the dish.
What is your success mantra?
I trust food, trust that the more I give to food the more it will give back.
What inspired you to create a show like ‘Home Made Love’?
Food has always had three pillars in which it has grown – street food, royal food and home food. Home food has played an important part in Indian culture and cuisine, it just hasn’t got enough platform and its due. I just felt that, as chefs, we do a lot for royal cooking and we roam around talking about street food, we definitely need to look at doing more on the home food front, where the home-makers who cook food at home come to the forefront and prepare the dishes. Just happy allowing the home-makers to show up in the best light!
On a work day, do you cook or order in?
I usually end up cooking something myself. If I have a choice, my food is very targetted. I usually know what I’m going to eat. In the morning I know what my day is going to be like. And that is usually how it ends up being. I usually cook for myself, it’s not very elaborate food, it’s very functional food. The cravings are very simple. One day the cravings might be an avocado toast with poached egg. That might be lunch for a day. But I prefer cooking it myself.
You travel a lot. What are some of the most unusual meals you’ve tried?
I’ve tried a lot of unusual things like alligator meat, kangaroo tail, snake meat. we’ve done an entire buck meal in Mexico. Crickets, grasshoppers, cockroaches. In Iceland, the reindeer meat is something I look forward to.
What do you indulge in on a cheat day?
I don’t decide cheat days because 50% of the time I’m not in control of what I’m eating when I’m shooting or when people invite me over. Those become my cheat days. I let myself loose and enjoy what they’ve cooked. I don’t plan cheat days; I only plan my meals. I’m very particular about what goes into my body when I’m in control. For example, if I’m in Kashmir and I’m shooting, I know it’s not going to be an ordinary meal day. Mostly my cheat days are forced on me and I enjoy that.
आपके श्रेष्ठ 3 खाना पकाने की तरकीब क्या हैं?
स्वस्थ जलपान के लिए आप क्या सिफारिशें करते हैं?
डाइटिंग और फिटनेस पर आप क्या सलाह देना चाहते है?
आप एक शेफ कैसे बने?
आपकी यात्रा में आपके द्वारा सीखी गई कुछ चीजें क्या हैं?
आपका बचपन कैसा था? खाद्य से कैसे और कब प्यार हो गया?