Known as the
"Kitchen Queen" in a recent article published in "The
Gulf Today" Meena Phadkar is a true Culinary "Artist" !
A graduate in
Commercial Art from the Delhi College of Art. She has not only taught
commercial art but has a successful business as a professional
She has a
for cooking and creating.
She is an avid cook and apart from cookery interests, she is also a good
organizer of social events for ladies and for families on festive occasions. Her passion for cooking is fueled by
her family who enjoy her creations.
She has participated in many
culinary competitions and has
won many times. She
is now, called upon to judge
many cooking competitions since she is known for her keen eye and exquisite
taste. She recently participated in a "Cookery
organized by Nestle Middle East held in the Dubai Intercontinental on
27th March. Approx 300+ multi-national entries were received. There were
9 judges belonging to the Emirates Culinary Guild. There were 25 third
prizes, 4 second prizes and 1 first prize. We are pleased to inform you
that she secured the FIRST
PRIZE - a
Kenwood microwave oven.
latest and very successful initiative being that of arranging to collect
and dispatch clothes and food stuff for "Gujarat
from and around her locality.
Read all about
her in this wonderful interview taken by our very own Chef-On-Line
Medini Pradhan. Here are the categories.
can E-Mail her at MeenaPhadkar@cuisinecuisine.com
Tell us how your
interest in cooking started and at what age?
Good cooks within my family like my grandmother, mother and aunts
influenced me towards the art of cooking. This lead me to experiment by
preparing meals at weekends during my college days. My parents were the
source of encouragement and their valued inputs contributed
Who were the biggest inspirations
for your career?
Apart from my family of good cooks, what really inspired me towards
cooking was my success while participating in the numerous cookery
competitions held by various ladies' clubs in Abu Dhabi, UAE. My success
at clinching the top prizes consistently was the biggest inspiration as
I had not been through any professional cookery classes.
What do you enjoy most about being
recognized as gifted Indian culinary artist?
I feel honored and privileged at being invited to judge major local
cookery competitions as also to share my knowledge and experiences
whenever an occasion arises. I therefore enjoy coming across a lot of talent,
creativity and variety that non-professional individuals cook up as it
adds to my constant learning process.
What has been your greatest
Being declared the first prize winner in a middle-east region-wide
contest that won me a holiday in Rome for me and my family.
What was - if ever your biggest
While not a setback, I was once deeply disappointed when, in my
enthusiasm to participate in a major cookery contest, I had to transport
my 3-course meal (with cutlery, crockery, cool-box with the desert) over
160 kms and I noticed upon reaching that my meal was messed up!
What have you done right that has
made your career such a success and >brought you recognition, media
attention, and awards?
Always placing my best foot forward on all occasions, paying attention
to minor details and probably being at the right place at the right
What are the tools of the trade
you use most?
- Fresh ingredients
- Right kitchen-ware (coated pots and pans) to help faster cooking as
also using less fat / oil
What are your favorite kitchen
- Grinder (dry /wet) : a must for freshly ground spices
- Pressure cooker : to shorten the cooking process
- Blender : for quick shakes & soups
- Hand mixer /steel egg beater : great for mixing sauces
- Microwave:: great for defrosting, reheating and cooking
What are some of the skills that
help all cooks/chefs succeed?
- To anticipate the likes and preferences of guests
- Striving for perfection including minor details
- Being a good cook is not enough. Some artistic skills are also desired
to compliment presentation and finishing touches e.g usage of
appropriate crockery / cutlery, interesting garnishing and appealing
- Presentation to suit the occasion makes all the difference between
serving just a meal and a special meal!
Do you taste your recipe before
you serve it?
Yes, at every critical step! (it also helps to random taste the not so
fresh ingredients like almonds / cashews / pistachios to ensure its good
Which cuisine do you enjoy the
Besides having a taste for the Indian Cuisine, I also like Chinese and
Continental / Italian Cuisine.
Which Indian festival inspires you
to cook up a storm? And why?
Undoubtedly the festival of lights - Diwali!
This is one festival which is spread over a few days and offers an opportunity
to prepare a wide spread of colorful delicacies that one does not
usually prepare during the year.
If there was one tip that you
would like to share with our audience - what is your tip for home
Be prepared to rustle up a good tasty meal at short notice by keeping
certain basic ingredients in stock at all times viz. spices, ground
masalas, ginger / garlic paste, boiled meat / vegetables, chicken stock
cubes, ice cream (for desert / milk shakes), sauces for toppings.
make sure you use "different colored" base masalas for every
dish in the meal. This will ensure that you will get a different color
and flavor for each dish, thereby making your dishes standout and add to
What are three of your all time
favorite dishes / recipes?
- Mutton biryani
- Stuffed pomfret
- Baked fish in white sauce
Please submit one of your favorite
and easy recipe for our audience.
- 6 / 8 Chicken pieces
- Chicken stock cube (1)
- pepper to taste
- salt to taste
- 1 tbl soya sauce
- cut vegetable chunks ( 2 each of potatoes, onions, carrots, capsicum,
tomatoes) + peas + corn
Place chicken pieces in a oven-proof dish, crush stock cube, add salt,
pepper and soya sauce. Mix well. Add vegetables, mix again and cover
with foil. Bake for 45 -50 minutes. Serve hot with bread.
A delicious, quick and easy-to-make recipe without fat!
from the Expert
Is there anything else you can
tell us about yourself, your career, or the profession that would be
interesting or helpful to others aspiring to enter and succeed as a chef
Being a professional artist I occasionally hold exhibitions of my works
(paintings, murals, pottery and sculpture). Art and cookery compliment
each other and has helped me to integrate both in terms of table layouts,
presentations, color combinations and displays.
What advice can you give to
prospective students thinking about an education and career in the
Identify your aptitude and, if inclined, dare to experiment, observe,
exchange ideas and never stop the learning process.
What advice can you give to busy
working moms as far as cooking a nutritious meal is concerned?
Plan your meals for the week during the weekend and stock the
ingredients. Use plenty of greens and less fat. Try microwave cooking for speed!
Do you encourage cooking for all -
boys and girls and at what age should they get started? And why?
I certainly do and the earlier the better! Cooking adds a new dimension
to an individual's personality (even as a hobby) and enables children
and others to appreciate the efforts that go behind a good meal.
Your favorite food quote is ....
- "Its the quality, not the quantity!"