Cliched as it may seem for chefs to love their spices, for Sanjeev Kapoor, one of the most celebrated ones on television, that was the topic of an “interesting” discussion when he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and whipped a meal up for him in Abu Dhabi.
During Modi’s trip to Abu Dhabi in August, Kapoor was flown in specially to prepare a vegetarian meal for the strictly vegetarian prime minister.
“I spent over an hour with the prime minister and we were only talking about food and spices and the treatment through spices. It was interesting to discuss with the PM the correct use of spices and the miracles they can do when used correctly,” Kapoor said.
Chef Kapoor also eagerly shared an anecdote Modi had related to him.
“The PM told me the story of someone he knows, who had a heart issue and doctors said nothing could be done to correct it. Then he was advised to empty a capsule and fill it with freshly ground red chilli. He (Modi) said the man never had a problem after that,” said the chef, recalling his hour-long conversation with the prime minister.
The right combination spices are the trick to dish out the best food, Kapoor said.
“For me, when I’m cooking with Indian food, spices are very important, as I literally have to breathe them. The use of spices makes Indian food unique,” Kapoor said.
He said a combination of cumin, clove, pepper and cardamom are his favourites from his spice-box and, barring cumin, he can even use the other three in his desserts!
“All these spices – cumin, clove, pepper and cardamom – are so diverse that they can create magic by changed combinations. One can accentuate pepper, underlay it with cloves, with a hint of cumin and cardamom – it’s like a whole another world,” said Kapoor as his senses came all alive while speaking of spices.
It is only Indian food that can take as little as two or three spices to as many as 20 in the same dish, unlike any other cuisine in the world, Kapoor added.
Through his cookery shows as well, he always tries to bring in relevance to food to suit the times, Kapoor said, adding that it doesn’t mean that he serves the same at his restaurants as is depicted on his TV shows.
“For the very reason, that I know how to target my audience and I know what to sell, that all my books sell so well. One needs to know what to write so as to make it sell,” the celebrity chef added.
His chain of restaurants, Yellow Chilli, would soon be hitting the Gulf markets in Dubai, Saudi Arabia and other places within the next four months, he added.