Many will agree that authentic Indian food can prove to be quite calorie-laden. At least Chef Vikas Khanna does. “Indian food can be heavy at times, but I also believe that it’s healthy,” says the young chef, who owns restaurants around the world. He also agrees that the trend of eating healthy is capturing appetites everywhere, and he too is finding a way to bridge the gap. He says, “I have always struggled between these two norms (of healthy and heavy food). But my use of different butter, creams and oils is becoming less as I create new menus.”
For those who don’t want to sacrifice taste for their tummies, he suggests substituting certain items that are universally known to be fattening. “I replace cream with it in many dishes. Yogurt is a king ingredient,” says Khanna, adding, “I also use soy yogurt in my sauces and have used chickpea flour as a thickening agent in many of my sauces, instead of nuts.”Khanna will soon be seen hosting the second season of the Indian edition of the show, MasterChef on Star Plus. He’ll be taking over from actor Akshay Kumar, who in the last season, enamored fans. However, there were a few who didn’t agree with Kumar hosting a show of culinary repute, as he was not a chef. But Khanna defends him: "Akshay Kumar is an accomplished man in India and he has taken this show and awareness of cooking to a higher level. I think that his passion for cooking and star power justifies his position as a judge," says Khanna, who has just finished shooting the initial episodes of the show. Recalling how the new medium and audience gave him the jitters initially, he adds, "I remember the moment when I had to send someone home. It took me a long time to do that. I felt that I was a part of someone’s dream and ambition or what they aspired to be. That was a difficult shot for me."
Beet and Poppy seed chutney (Chukandar ke saath khuskhus)
Makes 2 cups
Ingredients: 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons poppy seeds, 1 pound beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 cups), 3 1/3 cups water, 3 tablespoons honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, juice of 1 lemon
Method: In a medium, heavy-bottom pan with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the poppy seeds and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add the beets and cook until well coated with seeds. Increase the heat to high and add the water, honey, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the beets are tender and cooked through, about 20 minutes. Add additional water if required to keep a syrupy consistence. Remove from heat.
Add the lemon juice and stir well. Let cool, uncovered, to room temperature and store in the refrigerator in an airtight glass container (the beets will stain any other type of container) for up to two weeks.
Soybean sprout and persimmon salad (Japani phal ki chaat)
Ingredients: 6 ounces soybean sprouts, or bean sprout of your choice, 1 large Fuyu persimmon, peeled and sliced, 2 tablespoons golden Raisins, juice of 2 lemons, 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, 1 teaspoon chili flakes, salt to taste
Method: Gently toss all the
ingredients and season to taste with salt. Serve chilled.
Ginger and lemon grilled chicken
Ingredients: 1 cup plain yogurt, whisked until smooth, 1 tablespoon cumin powder, 1 tablespoon garam masala, salt to taste, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon Madras curry powder, juice of 2 lemons, 6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced, 1 two-inch fresh ginger root finely chopped, 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
Method: In a large bowl mix the yogurt, cumin powder, garam masala, chilipowder, curry powder, ginger, salt, lemon juice and garlic. Add the chicken and toss it with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for about two to three hours. Pre-heat grill pan or an indoor electric grill to high. Place chicken on hot grill and cook for five or six minutes on each side, until charred at edges and chicken meat is firm and cooked. Serve hot.