Know Your Chef
What inspired you to become a chef? Tell us your story!
I come from a large South Indian family in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh and we believe that food is something that soothes the mind and the soul. This and the importance of having a clean kitchen were the two most important lessons that my mother taught me when I started cooking with her, at the age of 10. Watching her cook food was the best lesson in South Indian cuisine anyone could possibly get. I began experimenting with North Indian cuisine and recipes after getting married and shifting to Mumbai 20 years ago. My friends and relatives always wonder about how I manage to spend most of my day in the kitchen. I would say that passion is the key here and it makes all the time and effort to prepare a good meal, worthwhile. Part of becoming a chef, a successful one at that, involves constantly bettering yourself by keeping an open mind and picking up cues, pointers and tips on the job. This has helped me develop my own style of cooking.
Which celebrity chefs do you admire the most?
Apart from Chef Ruchi's YouTube channel, I do not follow any other celebrity chefs.
Which are your favorite films? What entertains you?
I like to unwind at the end of a busy day by watching television. As far as movies go, I like watching the latest Bollywood releases as and when time permits.
Do you like to travel? What are your favorite travel destinations?
I love meeting my family and going back to my hometown, Nellore, whenever I can.
Do you like reading?
I do not read a lot and would find it extremely difficult to come up with a list of my favourite books. I do like reading certain food magazines to keep myself updated with the latest in the culinary world.
Have you tried food from Holachef? How was your experience?
Chef Archana Vohra prepares a delicious veg burger. This is a lunchtime favourite of mine.
Which cuisines/dishes do you love to cook and why?
I have cooked various South Indian dishes all my life. It is my favourite type of cuisine for its generous but balanced use of spices. Baingan curry is my favourite dish if I have to choose one.
A cooking tip/secret that you always follow.
Mixing sabudana (sago) in rice batter makes idlis whiter.
What's your favorite kitchen tool? Why?
The idli steamer is something that I just can’t do without. This has saved me a lot of time and simplified many processes in the busy Holachef kitchen.
If you weren't a chef, or in the food business, what would you be?
I can only imagine myself having a career in the cooking business. If I did not become a chef, I would have remained a housewife.
What's the largest number of people you've ever cooked for and how many different dishes/cuisines were served?
I have catered to a crowd of 250 people all by myself and an exclusively South Indian menu was served on that day.
What is the one ingredient that you cannot cook without? Why?
My homemade masalas set me apart from other chefs who prepare South Indian dishes. These are concocted by me at my house and are brought to the Holachef kitchen for my preparations.
Someone famous you would like to cook for?
My daughter and I are both fans of the South Indian actress Anushka Shetty and I would love to cook for her.
Which talent/quality should a person definitely possess in order to become a professional chef?
A professional chef must never forget why he got into the food business - a deep seeded passion for cooking.