Updated: November 29, 2018 5:25:07 pm
By Zofeen Maqsood
When he’s not cooking for the rich and famous across the globe, he’s trying to perfect the khichri, the way his three kids like it, at home. Chef Nishant Choubey, who has curated dinners for everyone from the Ambanis to the most famous politicians in the country, says that in his home kitchen there are no gender rules. He shares, “I cook for my kids and wife as often as I can and believe me, this is the best way to bond not just as a family but also as parents.”
The chef, who also presents his cookery shows on TV explains, “Have you ever noticed, the first thing that binds a newborn to their mothers is the need to feed? Cooking and feeding someone has almost a spiritual power to connect two people. The connection becomes even stronger when you cook or even just watch your kids eat.” He adds, “I wonder why Indian dads in particular, deny themselves this wonderful opportunity to bond with their kids?”
Teaching gender equality early
But does it come naturally for the chef to take interest in recipes and ingredients given his profession? “I think, if I were not a chef but say a teacher or an engineer, I would be spending even more time in my home kitchen,” comes the unexpected reply. Chef Choubey adds, “The thing with being a chef is that you are already so spent slaving in the kitchen, that often the idea of just sitting in front of a TV sounds more tempting than stirring the pots again at home. But every time this happens, I remind myself that my three biggest food critics are looking forward to their next meal and I am happy to be in the kitchen again,” says the chef, talking about his kids-9-year-old twins (a boy and a girl) and eight-year-old daughter.
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However, the chef stresses that the reason he and his wife decided to take turns cooking for their kids was also a lot deeper. He says, “When the kids arrived, we were very sure that we wanted our kids to know that there are no only ‘dad duties’ or ‘mom duties.’ As parents, both of us are equally responsible for the kids and depending on who is available at that particular time we are too happy to don the apron. Now that the kids are older, by doing this we are subconsciously telling my girls that they don’t belong in the kitchen alone and also telling my boy that he belongs in the kitchen too. This is an important lesson all parents must instill in their kids. By seeing their dads helping moms in the kitchen, the kids learn important things such as gender balance and respecting each others’ contributions.
Moms deserve their time-off
In the Choubey household, weekend rules are fixed. It’s the dad’s turn to surprise the family with at least one special meal. Choubey says, “And this does not mean that the family expects me to churn up a three-course meal necessarily. Sometimes, it is a simple meal of khichri or dal-chawal that we all enjoy. The basic idea is to give the mom a break from the kitchen so that she can spend some quality time by herself.” On why he thinks it is important, the top chef says, “We all feel burnt out from time to time. It is important to take a break from everyday activities and have someone else tackle the chores. It helps my wife reconnect with herself. Sometimes, the kids and I spend Sundays baking cookies as we pack my wife off to a spa. It is our way of saying thank you. I believe all women deserve this because by law of nature; they are the primary food providers to the kids from the time they are born. However, once the kids are older and men can shoulder some responsibilities, why should they not?”
Dads in the kitchen, is the new sexy!
Are men stirring up a soup in the kitchen the new cool in this metrosexual age? Chef Choubey says, “Well, it helps to see global idols such as Gordon Ramsay or Jamie Oliver and yes, if they drive some dads back home in the kitchen then, well, heck, why not?” But do traditional patriarchal roles still keep men away from the kitchen in most Indian households? Choubey says, “Well, unfortunately, it happens. Despite the fact that I am a chef I have had times when the relatives and neighbours have been surprised by how often I cook at home.” He adds, “Even though times are changing and we do see some men making an occasional meal, the day a dad takes pride in making his child’s first dalia or a fruit puree is yet to come.” But then, a start is a positive sign of the times, says Chef Choubey as he talks about his new dish, his kids can’t seem, to have enough of-Chicken with preserved lime dressing!
Chef Choubey’s home favourite Chicken With Preserved Lime recipe
“If the kids ask for a dish again and again, it indeed has passed the litmus test,” says Nishant Choubey as he shares his special recipe with us.
Chicken washed, cut and pat dry
Onions 500 gm
Ginger-garlic paste 50 gm
Dry cinnamon 1-2 pieces
Coriander seeds 20 gm
Turmeric powder 30 gm
Dry chilli 1-2
Lime 4, cut into halves
Fenugreek seeds 20 gm
Black peppercorn 10 gm
Chopped green coriander 100 gm
Chicken stock 2 cups
Heat oil in a skillet. Add onions and once they turn pink, add ginger garlic and stir continuously. Add all the dry spices such as coriander, chili, turmeric and fenugreek. Add chicken immediately before the spices burn. Coat the chicken with spices while stirring. Add chicken stock and once the liquid simmers cover and let the chicken half cook. In approximately 10 minutes, add the cut-up limes and cook some more letting the chicken soak up lime flavour completely. Once done, add coriander and serve immediately.
Note: The tangy taste especially appeals to kids and the dish serves as a good way to add protein to their diet.
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