Cooking from the heart

Cooking from the heart

Tele review

Cooking from the heart

It is the simplicity of his persona and of his prized recipes that is absolutely fascinating. Yet for Chef Ranveer Brar, the palate pirouettes first, above everything else.

One of India’s most highly sought-after culinary artistes, Ranveer became a household name the moment he entered tellyscape with shows including Breakfast Xpress, The Great Indian Rasoi, Thank God It’s Fryday, Health Bhi Taste Bhi...and Season 4 of MasterChef India. “I launch my cook book next month,” says Ranveer, taking a few minutes out of his crazy schedule for this interview, while he basks in his latest accolade: the most stylish chef award, conferred on him by a leading daily.

So what’s the secret behind the flair for preparing flavourful dishes? “Honestly, I respect my palate. Whether it is serving up Kangaroo meat or even crocodile fat basted potato chips, I believe that the food we eat is an inherent function of character, depth and history,” he explains. “We started cooking on stones thousands of years ago. So the fuss and the flounce of modern techniques notwithstanding, the basic taste of ingredients remains the same. I follow my own instinct, and believe there are no golden rules. If the food I prepare meets with the approval of my own palate, the recipe moves ahead.”

Brought up in the culinary crucible of the city of nawabs, Lucknow, Ranveer moved up from his love for cooking kebabs (at the fabled Munir Ustad’s stall) on the sly to preparing a delicious surprise in rajma chawal for his folks at home, and rustling up yummy meethe chawal in minutes for a langar at the neighbouring gurudwara, to finally wowing the natives at the Institute of Hotel Management in the city, and then moving on to greener pastures yonder. Ranveer then went on to develop the Midas touch, heading teams at 5-star hotels in Delhi, as the executive chef, and launching superb seafood restaurants (in Goa, a place that brought in the relaxed pace for him to evolve his skills). He was able to cultivate a sense of dynamism while developing his own signature style.

Soon after, Ranveer relocated to the US to set up his own Franco Asian eatery Banq, in Boston, in partnership with a few others. The restaurant netted brilliant reviews, but floundered commercially. He took the lesson in his stride and moved back to home turf for honing his flair for cooking.

Cut to 2016, Ranveer is on the brink of unveiling his foray into the world of patisserie, with English Vinglish (bringing in mithai-inspired pastries), shaping delectable menus for MTV India cafés across India, in addition to launching his own series of select, global foodie sojourns on YouTube. So midst the supersonic humdrum, what is he in love with at the moment? “The humble khichri with arhar dal and chawal,” the man replies without a blink. “At the worktop, I am in love with miso, and am trying it out in a profusion of desserts,” he smiles. 

“I like to make my learning curve evolve all the time. I learnt a lot from ninja chefs Mubarak Ali and Rishad Rizvi, in a recent interaction in Lucknow. They look fragile, but each cooked up 3 dishes from scratch in 1.5 hours,” Ranveer says with great admiration. “This is the best part about being a chef: meeting different people, eating different kinds of food, and getting to cultivate your own creativity.”

Does he want to create a little chef out of his 1-year-old son, Ishaan? “I only want him to make a biryani for me before he turns 5. That is all! Then he can do whatever he wants in life,” says Ranveer, signing off with his signature smile.

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