One of the first names that comes to mind when someone says Indian food is that of Sanjeev Kapoor. A pioneer of Indian cuisine who redefined the term ‘food porn’, the star chef is always on a roll to experiment and come up with new dishes.
The stalwart, recently came up with an idea to bring together connoisseurs and sommeliers around the world to witness and showcase the culinary practices, flavours and fragrances of Indian food juxtaposed beautifully with world cuisines. The leading chef will be working with the Ministry of Food Processing for the World Food India event which will bring together international cuisines under one roof and present the fusion of the ‘desi’ with the ‘pardesi’.
Food Street will be a meeting of the ‘desi’ with the ‘pardesi’ food tastes. How do you think this fusion of Indian and international cuisine will be received in India?
Largely, we are very secure with our taste, we are not very experimental which is both a good and a bad thing as the world also behaves like that. But we have to make it exciting so people can relate to it. Indians say that they are experimental but they are not. A global brand that comes to India has to adapt to the Indian taste. Different regions of India have a different taste palette and they have to adapt to each other and that is what we are trying to connect and showcase in Food Street.
What is the weirdest food trend you have come across?
There are very few weird trends which we are open to in India. The consumption of Kopi Luwak (cat poop coffee) in Indonesia is big but in India, it is only a small conversation. Conversations will happen about chutney made of red ants, orange flavoured ants. Consumption would be of just one chocolate coated cockroach but it’s not being consumed.
Would you try elephant dung coffee and other food trends which are considered weird?
Yes, I would. I am somebody who has to try them. I was in Cambodia and there was a tarantula, which is a type of spider, so I did try it.
What is the hottest foreign food trend in India right now?
The biggest trend would be noodle, breakfast cereal, pasta, pizza. When you see dry pasta in Jonpur being sold in sacks, that’s when you know a change has happened. Otherwise, it’s too niche and too small for us to talk about. Good news for hottest food trend in India is that the taste of India doesn’t change. Whatever forms come to India, takes on Indian colours. It could be noodle, burger, pasta, rice rolls (sushi) but they will become aloo tikki burger, masala noodle, or regional with pav bhaji and all of that.
You were one of the MasterChef India judges. Now, the reality show is a good way for amateur cooks to polish their skills, but was there any takeaway for an expert like you, considering you were surrounded by other talented chefs like Vikas Khanna, Ranveer Brar, and Kunal Kapur? Did you share notes?
Yes, we do that all the time and they are very dear friends of mine. You can call them my little brothers. I was in New York last week and met up with Vikas and asked him about the new innovations he is working on. Whether it’s Vikas Khanna, Ranveer or Kunal Kapur, I only see them as Indians who are making the country proud.
What is your favourite Indian cuisine?