There was a time when Tarla Dalal was the only Indian celebrity in the world of cooking who had a massive, pan-India following. Then came Zee TV, Sanjeev Kapoor, and his show Khana Khazana, and they obliterated every other celebrity cookery show in terms of popularity.
It changed the way India perceived cooking. For the first time, a professional chef became a huge, national star. Cooking suddenly became glamorous. That was way back in the ’90s. The first decade of the new millennium was when soap operas took over Indian television.
They could not kill the popularity of cooking shows, which had their own following, but they certainly dented it. However, with the growth in the number of lifestyle and infotainment channels, cooking has made a comeback with a vengeance.
In fact, it seems that these TV channels are falling over each other to have a cookery show of their own. Chefs have never had it so good in India before.
One reason why such shows have become so popular is that people, thanks to their frequent travels across the country and the world, are now open to trying various kinds of recipes, as long as they are tasty and healthy. Of course, the rising cost of dining outside is also driving people to learn new recipes and try them at home.
And the cookery shows are ably fulfilling this need, catering to every segment of food lovers, right from children to food connoisseurs. The format of these shows has also evolved, making them far more stylish and informative. And when it comes to style and glamour, can models and actors lag far behind? Two of them have not only turned into chefs but have garnered a huge fan following too.
The dream mom of food loving children
One of them is Amrita Raichand, the beautiful, smiling face behind numerous commercials for brands ranging from Ponds, Whirlpool, Tata Tea, Maggie Noodles, the list goes on and on. Also known for her roles in Yash Raj Films’ Mahi Ve and Ready with Salman Khan among other films, Amrita has garnered a huge fan following among little children and, of course, their Moms, with her show Mummy Ka Magic.
Most mothers are at their wits’ end every day, trying to get their children to eat wholesome food. Amrita comes to their rescue, rustling up delicious looking yet nutritious meals that children just cannot pass up. And most recipes are real quickies too.
Reinventing forgotten recipes
The other model, actor turned chef is Aditya Bal. After a tryst with modeling, thanks to his uncle, designer Rohit Bal, and a not-so-successful stint in Bollywood, Aditya finally found his calling in cooking. With his show, Lost Recipes, he has found the perfect way to popularity, and has become a star chef.
In the interesting show, Aditya takes viewers on a search for old, delicious recipes that have somehow dropped out of the pages of food history. He discovers them hidden in some nook and cranny of the country — at times, zealously preserved by a single family - and learns about their origin. And then he reinvents them in his own style.
The super star chef
One chef who can be easily called the superstar of cookery shows on TV is Ranveer Brar. From humble beginnings as an apprentice to a kebab vendor in his birthplace, Lucknow, Ranveer rose to become the youngest executive chef in India at the age of 25. He then set up a restaurant, Banq, in Boston, US, which won the award for the ‘Best New Restaurant in the World’ from the magazine, Wallpaper.
In India, he has handled banquets at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Prime Minister’s residence. And currently, he is the chef who has been the most prolific in presenting a myriad cookery shows on various channels. Some of them are, Breakfast Xpress, The Great Indian Rasoi, Health Bhi Taste Bhi, Raja Rasoi Aur Andaaz Anokhaa, Station Masters Tiffin, Himalayas — The Off-beat Adventure, and many more. He is also one of the judges for season six of Masterchef India.
There are many more interesting cookery shows that cannot be covered in this single column. That itself should give you an idea about the glut of shows on Indian food on TV!
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