People unknowingly create regional divides through food: Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

Sanjeev Kapoor (right) with chef Joseph JJ Johnson
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By Natalia Ningthoujam

New Delhi– Popular chef Sanjeev Kapoor says cuisines sometimes are the cause of regional divides — so in an attempt to unite everyone, he wants to evolve a “Bharat ka masala” (India’s spice).

“We take pride in our regional food… The food that we have grown up eating. But somehow, without realising it, we create regional divides through food,” said Kapoor, whose New Year started on a high as he was named recipient of the Padma Shri, the country’s fourth-highest civilian honour.

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“Maybe it is the right time to look at things that unite us… Probably by creating one spice powder which is India’s spice — ‘Bharat ka masala’… Something that can be enjoyed by a Gujarati or a Bengali or a Punjabi,” Kapoor told IANS in an interview.

Sanjeev Kapoor (right) with chef Joseph JJ Johnson

Kapoor, who was the chef flown to Abu Dhabi to specially prepare a vegetarian meal for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2015, believes it is time to start thinking about how food can bring people together.

And he is succeeding to an extent, at least on social media, as foodies of all varieties are united by his Twitter account.

With over a million followers on the micro-blogging site, the chef of “Khana Khazana” fame tempts them with recipes and images of “food-filled winter” items like beetroot and apple soup, chicken nacho soup and more.

Since it’s the age of hashtags and retweets, is it goodbye to culinary TV shows?

“Mediums may change, but the content remains the same. Earlier, there were books, then TV shows happened. Now because of mobiles, we have TV in our hands. It’s not that TV has gone. It’s just that now we can carry it in our pockets. So, cookery shows will continue. More and more people will consume content,” said the chef, who launched his own “FoodFood” channel in 2011.

With over 30 years of experience in the field, has he ever thought of making a film on the hospitality industry? “Currently, there are no plans as such,” said the owner of Yellow Chilli, a chain of restaurants.

Kapoor feels happy that a lot of Indian chefs are being recognised for their work in the country. But does he feel threatened by their popularity?

“No. I always consider that making anything is better (as there will be more variety),” said the chef, who recently revealed the goodness of basmati rice along with the US-based chef Joseph ‘JJ’ Johnson at the LT Foods event here.

Are the young chefs on the block making any mistakes?

“They (young chefs) are smart. One thing I tell everyone is it’s the body of work that should be celebrated and not the person. That’s for anybody and everybody. At times, I see the focus is on the person more than the work. That should not be done.”

For now, he is looking forward to receiving the Padma Shri and would like to celebrate the moment with the other recipients (89 in all, including the Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan awardees) by preparing a special menu for them.


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