Learning Twicehttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/learning-twice-2/

Learning Twice

MasterChef India winner Pankaj Bhadouria spills the beans on her first cook book.

Pankaj Bhadouria’s journey from being an English teacher in Lucknow to the Masterchef of India has been the stuff dreams are made of. On her recent visit to the city,she launched her first cook book titled,MasterChef India Cookbook,and also shared her experiences. With over 100 sumptuous recipes,Bhadouria’s cook book has a delectable mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes from around the world. “The book tries to reach out to women in small towns,” says Bhadouria.

The book includes Bhadouria’s quick-fix recipes which can be made in 30 minutes flat,as well as gourmet meals,desserts,and the dishes she showcased in the MasterChef kitchen. Recipes by judges,chefs Kunal Kapoor and Ajay Chopra,are also featured in the collection. With stylish photographs by Saba Gaziyani,the cook book seems like a sure hit. “I was confused while choosing my recipes for this book,” Bhadouria admitted at the launch. “My life has changed dramatically after MasterChef. People recognise me,I get to travel and I am famous now,” she gushed. Bhadouria had recently visited the Cambridge University for imparting cooking lessons.

Her tryst with cooking began at the age of 12,”thanks to my parents,who were excellent cooks themselves,” she says. But cooking was considered a hobby,and never a career. “When I joined MasterChef,I had a life-changing choice in front of me. I could continue with teaching or take the plunge to follow my passion. I did the latter,” Bhadouria recalls.

But she also found a middle ground to keep both her interests active. “I let the teacher in me live by teaching people to cook. My teaching colleagues would often tell me how their mouth watered when I narrated recipes. So in effect,the idea of nurturing my hobby into a passion grew from the school staff room,” she says. “I treated MasterChef as my classroom too,but was on the other side of the table this time. My confidence helped me sail through.”

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She recently also wrapped up hosting duties on her own cookery show called Chef Pankaj ka Zayka,which aired on Star Plus. Now the 42-year-old,mother of two,is ready to tread the “all-male chef world” she says. “The erratic timings of the hotel industry kept women away from this job. But things are changing now. Women are stepping out of the home kitchens these days,” says Bhadouria.

Bhadouria has many things on her to-do list now,and one of them is to open her first restaurant in Lucknow. “I will write more books,try hosting some shows and be involved in anything related to the food world,” she says.

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