For chef Vikas Khanna, food represents his culture, beliefs and history. The New York City-based Michelin-starred Indian chef, who’s also the host of the TV show MasterChef India (Season 2), has been travelling extensively off late for his new cook book titled My Great India. Khanna was recently in the city to attend a food event. He shares some of his delicious food experiences.
“Travelling for the book has been an amazing journey to discover so many new aspects of Indian food. I was in Bodhgaya (Bihar) where I spent the New Year at the Kalachakra with the Dalai Lama. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the food of Bihar. Spending time with the Dalai Lama itself was a symbol of renewal for me,” says Khanna, who was wowed by the two most famous food offering of Bihar — tilkut (a savoury made with sesame seeds and jaggery) and litti (wheat flour balls stuffed with baked gram flour and cooked over coal).
The chef who also travelled to UP, Orissa, Assam, Gujarat, Karnataka and several other Indian states, says, “What touched my heart most was the Indian hospitality. Everywhere I went, this factor was common, despite language and cultural differences.”
Khanna has also been voted New York’s hottest chef, and is featured in the list of Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine. And, he is single and quite ready to mingle. “The search for the right girl is on,” he says. So, what’s his dream girl like, we ask him? “She has to be someone who is proud of her heritage,” says the chef who is busy working on his new film on Islam, called Moon of Eid, for his Holy Kitchen Series, which explores food traditions in a spiritual context. “We are
premiering it at Harvard University. I’m so proud of it,” he says.
Khanna’s recipes for you to try.
Ginger & lemon grilled chicken
1 cup plain yogurt, whisked until smooth
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tbs garam masala
Salt to taste
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp Madras curry powder
Juice of 2 lemons
6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced
1 two-inch fresh ginger root,
2 pounds boneless
Skinless chicken breasts
In a large bowl mix the yogurt, cumin powder, garam masala, chili powder, curry powder, ginger, salt, lemon juice and garlic. Add the chicken and toss it with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 to 3 hours.Preheat grill pan or an indoor electric grill to high. Place chicken on hot grill and cook for 5 or 6 minutes on each side until charred at edges and chicken meat is firm and cooked. Serve hot.
Chocolate Drink with Nutmeg
2 cups water
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 one-inch cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 hot red chili pepper, halved and seeded
Place the water and sugar in a medium saucepan, stir until sugar dissolves. Bring it to a boil. Add chocolate, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chili, stir and gently bring it to a simmer for 1 minute. Take off the heat and allow it to infuse for 10 minutes, and strain to remove the chili and the cinnamon stick. Whip the hot chocolate in a blender. Serve in large cups, or pour into a container to cool. Hot chocolate can be made up to two days in advance and kept tightly covered in the refrigerator. To reheat the chilled chocolate, pour it into a saucepan, set the pan over low heat, and bring it to a slow boil. Remove the pan from the heat, whip the chocolate for a minute in a blender.
Le Cordon Bleu Fresh Vegetables
1 bunch asparagus, peeled, trimmed and tied with a
4 baby carrots, peeled
10 snow peas
3 tablespoons extra virgin
10 to 12 ripe cherry tomatoes
5 red radish
Salt to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sprigs of dill
Fill a large pot with 4-inch high salted water. Place asparagus and carrots and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until asparagus are crisp-tender, about six minutes. Remove and reserve. To the same water add snow peas and cook for two minutes. Remove and reserve. In a medium pan heat the oil and add all the vegetables and stir fry for two minutes. Add the salt, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and dill and mix well.
Have you made interesting food discoveries while travelling? Tell us at