Chef Ajay Chopra demystifies Indian cooking with a dash of quirk to go
Hoping to answer the very complex questions of ‘What is for dinner?’, Ajay Chopra, executive chef at The Westin Mumbai Garden City and former judge on MasterChef India, hosts a food show called Veggistan. So whether you have fussy children, surprise guests or you just want something exotic yet easy, Chopra will tell you what to cook for dinner every night and for every occasion. And what’s more, he’ll sticking to ‘widely available ingredients in the pantry at home or maximum in a one kilometer radius’ and a strictly vegetarian repertoire. “About 73 per cent of India is vegetarian, and out of 14 meals a week, an average Indian homemaker makes at least 10 meals vegetarian,” shares Chopra, but says that we haven’t evolved in our cooking and we have definitely not been exploratory, although that is changing with more travels overseas.
“So the whole idea was to get quirky with vegetarian food, give it a completely different character and stature as a lot of us just limit ourselves to paneer and mushroom when we talk about vegetarian cooking,” shares the chef, who suggests a simple hot chocolate with Nutella or chilled strawberry dipped in sugar for a midnight craving and lasagna or aubergine moussaka, greek salad, mushroom soup, cherry or berry clafoutis if you have unannounced dinner guests. In addition to travelling the world for easy recipes with regular ingredients, the show focuses on identifying regional Indian delicacies. It is ideal for those who are afraid to experiment, says the former judge. “I think the best part here is that we are going to touch upon 52 different themes throughout the year and we are going to pick up mundane everyday problems people face when they have to decide what to cook,” he says, signing off.
Saturdays at 7 pm on NDTV Good Times.