Cooking Up A Storm With Sanjeev Kapoor: 'I have had orange-flavoured ants'

Cooking Up A Storm With Sanjeev Kapoor: 'I have had orange-flavoured ants'

In this fortnightly column, we offer you an exclusive pass to the kitchen of one of your favourite celebrities and get the stars to reveal one secret recipe from their family cookbook

Anita Raheja Updated: Sunday, December 25, 2022, 01:27 AM IST
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Sanjeev Kapoor |

Renowned chef and entrepreneur Sanjeev Kapoor has delighted millions with his exemplary culinary skills. The Free Press Journal caught up with him for an exclusive chat about his diet fundas and favourite recipe. Excerpts:

My dietary preference: I eat everything. It depends on the mood of that day. We love eating masala dosa at home and it is made at least two to three times a week. Mutton biryani is also a family favourite. 

First thing in the morning I have: An apple. Then it is garma garam chai with some nuts and dry fruits. 

For breakfast, I have: Some days it’s eggs, other days it’s dosas and idlis and when my mother-in-law visits, we have my favourite thalipeeth. 

My lunch comprises: When I am in Mumbai, it is a nice home-cooked meal comprising of dal, sabzi, roti, salad or a comforting bowl of rajma/kadhi-chawal.   

One thing is a must with my meals: We make sure to include salads in all our meals.

In the evenings, I snack on: I enjoy makhana or some bhel puri.

My dinner is: Jo banta hai wohi. I am not fussy.

My favourite desserts are: I love Indian desserts. Bengali mishtis are among my favourites. I particularly like kheer kadam.

My fitness regime: Adopting healthy ways of cooking, incorporating healthy ingredients is my way of staying fit. Opting for the staircase whenever possible, taking small walks whenever time allows. I also unwind by playing drums. I have a drum set in my office cabin. We play covers of old classics and melodies from the 1970’s and 1980’s.  

My favourite restaurants in India and abroad: The Yellow Chilli (TYC) and Signature. Earlier this year, we launched TYC in Danville, USA.

My favourite cuisine is: Indian. My family and I also enjoy eating a variety of dishes from different cuisines around the world. I love experimenting with new cuisines. Whenever I travel, I make it a point to explore the local cuisine.

Foods I consciously have and avoid: I always try to include some kind of salad and green veggies in my meals. Other than that, I believe that you should eat everything but in moderation. When it comes to avoiding food there is nothing in particular. But I control my portion sizes when it comes to fried foods, etc.

While travelling, the weirdest food I have had: I have had orange-flavoured ants! I am always up for something new. There is so much of the local cuisine to try. New tastes, textures, and methods.

My comfort food: Maa ke haath ke kadhi-chawal.

 My favourite beverage: A glass of water.

For a romantic meal: I’ll cook for my wife Alyona from the comfort of my home kitchen depending on what she wishes to eat on that day.

One dish you enjoy cooking for your wife and family: 

A lot of times, it’s Laksa which makes for a hearty Sunday meal.

I learnt to cook: I did a professional course in culinary, but always had the luxury of learning the best of home cuisine from my mom and dad both. Learning cannot be from a single source.

My favourite cook in my family: My mother, wife and mother-in-law. Ye teen deviyaan make some of the best food I have had. My mother’s rajma-chawal and Punjabi kadhi, my mother-in-law’s undhiyu and Alyona’s khandvi are amazing. I got introduced to Gujarati kadhi after our marriage.

My favourite recipe is: Shaam Savera. I made this recipe on the sets of Khana Khazana.

Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe of Shaam Savera 

Shaam Savera

Shaam Savera |

Ingredients 

For the gravy 

2 teaspoons oil

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds (shahi jeera) 

2 cloves

1 black cardamom

3-4 green cardamoms

1" cinnamon stick 

3-4 garlic cloves (chopped) 

1" piece ginger (chopped) 

1 medium onion (sliced)

1 teaspoon turmeric powder 

4 to 5 medium tomatoes (halved) 

1/2 tablespoon red chilli (deghi mirch) powder 

1/2 tablespoon green cardamom powder 

1 cup water 

Salt to taste 

2 tablespoons butter 

1/4 cup broken cashew nuts 

1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) 

1 teaspoon honey 

2 teaspoons fresh cream 

For the spinach covering

2 small bunches (500) fresh spinach leaves, blanched, drained and pureed

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon caraway seeds

5 garlic cloves (chopped)

1" ginger piece (chopped)

2 teaspoons green chilli paste

1 teaspoon green cardamom powder 

1 teaspoon coriander powder 

3 tablespoons cashew nut powder 

Salt to taste 

8 tablespoons roasted chana  dal powder 

Corn flour for dusting

For the kofta filling

1/2 cup grated cottage cheese (paneer)

1/4 tablespoon green cardamom powder

1/4 tablespoon white pepper powder 

Salt to taste 

1/4 tablespoon corn flour 

Oil for deep frying 

For garnish

Ginger juliennes 

Method:

For the gravy: Heat oil in a deep non-stick pan. Add the caraway seeds, cloves, black cardamoms, green cardamoms, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, onion and half the turmeric powder and sauté for five to seven minutes. Add the tomatoes, red chilli powder,  remaining turmeric powder, green cardamom powder, one cup water and salt to taste. Cook for five minutes. Add the butter, cashew nuts, kasoori methi, honey and mix well. Let the gravy simmer for ten to fifteen minutes on medium heat. Set aside to cool.

For the spinach covering: Melt the butter in a non-stick pan. Add the caraway seeds and sauté it til it begins to change colour. Add garlic, ginger, spinach puree, green chilli paste, cashew nut powder, coriander powder, green cardamom powder, salt, roasted chana dal powder and cook, stirring till dry. Spread it out on a plate and set aside to dry completely.

For the kofta filling: Mix together the paneer, cardamom powder, white pepper powder, salt and corn flour and mix well. Divide into eight equal portions and roll into balls. Keep them in the refrigerator till required. 

To make the koftas: Heat sufficient oil in a kadai. Divide the spinach mixture into eight equal portions. Coat each paneer ball with a portion of spinach and roll into a round ball. Roll them lightly in corn flour. Deep fry on medium heat for three to four minutes. Drain on absorbent paper and set aside to cool slightly. Grind and strain the gravy into a bowl and discard the residue. Put the gravy back on  heat. Add some water to adjust the consistency. Add fresh cream and mix.

To serve: Pour the curry into a  serving bowl. Halve the koftas horizontally and place on top of the gravy. Garnish with a swirl of ginger juliennes and serve hot.

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