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Saturday, 29 August 2015

Chefs Should Always Taste Their Dishes!

This is a story about a 17 year-old aspiring chef who comes from a conservative family background. In his community, nurturing culinary skills is regarded as a pretty derogatory and "womanly" pursuit.

However, in his family, Kushal Bajoria has found a support by proving his skills and passion for cooking. He claims that everybody at home is a foodie. 

Vibrant discussions with the elderly about cooking in his house has aroused the empathy as well as support for his aspirations which, Kushal believes, has been his way of winning hearts and the much-needed holding ground for fulfilling his dreams from his elders.
Pink Velvet Cake by Kushal Bajoria
At 17 already, this ever-smiling, unassuming boy aspires to become a world-famous chef, who wants to innovate dishes that will “not only compete and challenge non-vegetarian cuisine, but will also beat this realm completely and make everyone go green!”, he chirps.

Bajoria comes from a conservative Marwari family (, where his father runs a well etched diamond business and his mother is a housewife. 

For a well-established business as his father’s, it becomes impending for him to join hands in the diamond-business. But Kushal chose a rather unconventional and non-conformist route.

The Marwari community is well-known for its conservatism and strict vegetarianism. So does that stand in the way of Kushal’s aspirations?

“During my learning years, I am willing to step out of my traditions and stipulations; But once I am established, I would like to come back and explore my roots.”
Sago (Sabudana) Cheese-filled Patty, an innovative vegetarian dish by Kushal Bajoria (scroll down for the recipe)

Sago (Sabudana) Cheese-filled Patty, an innovative vegetarian dish by Kushal Bajoria (scroll down for the recipe)

The Recipe

Sabudana (Sago)  – 1 ½ cups
Potatoes, boiled and mashed – 3 medium
Roasted peanuts, coarsely ground – 1 cup
Green Chillies, finely chopped – 3
Fresh Coriander leaves, chopped – 2 tablespoons
Lemon Juice – 1 tablespoon
Salt, to taste
Vegetable Oil, to deep-fry
Red Chilli Powder – 1 tea-spoon
Grated Cheese – 1 table-spoon

Step 1

Soak the Sabudana in enough water and keep it covered for about two hours. Drain off excess water. Mix together Sabudana, potatoes, peanuts, green chillies, coriander leaves, lemon juice, chilli powder  and salt.
Step 2

Mix thoroughly. Divide into sixteen lemon-sized balls, flatten between palms of your hands. Heat sufficient oil in a kadhai (deep pan) and deep fry the patties in hot oil till golden brown.
Step 3

Drain on absorbent paper. Serve hot with chutney of your choice and garnish with grated cheese and finely chopped coriander.

 He is currently looking into applying in New York into one of the best schools to pursue his dreams of becoming a chef.

“It is my Marwari background that led to my gourmet fascination. Eating is an obsession in my family. I chose to experiment with that obsession and push it a level further,” says Kushal.

Kushal considers Master Chef Vikas Khanna as his role model and wants to make Indian cuisine global. “We have something in common- I, like him, am also learning most things from my grand-mother.”

Failures are important in life, particularly when they strip us off our weaknesses. Kushal recalls an incident that led him to failure, but has strengthened him for a better future. He had a habit of never tasting his own dishes. 

Once, during the IIHM Young Chef semi-finals, he asked a helper to taste his preparation. On the advice of the helper, he added a little more salt to the food. 

Later, when the results were declared, he learnt that he had lost by a small margin to his contender and didn’t qualify for the finals which could have taken him to London.

This incident taught him the biggest lesson of his life. He had never neglected this important aspect of cooking ever since.

“Failures are God’s way of telling us that something better is in store for us. So I have never given up on my dreams and I never will,” he signs off smilingly.