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Star Chef Saroj Kering 

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Everyone knows the BAWARCHI's Saroj Kering. She has been part of the immensely popular website Bawarchi.com (now Food.Sify.com) since its inception in 1995. 

Saroj started writing a recipe a day on Bawarchi.com and slowly her fan club grew with viewers from all from all over the world. Last year she set out to write and compile her very first cookbook "Festive Indian Recipes" We are proud to feature her as our celebrity Star Chef! 

Her brand new website has some very simple yet creative vegetarian recipes. Here is a "zhalak" of her interview with us. 

Congratulations Saroj & continued success!!! 

Read all about her. Here are the categories. 

Career 

Tell us how your interest in cooking started and at what age?
I was interested in cooking from a very early age of
twelve. I would love to make and put together  my own lunch box for school. That was when I knew I was in my element when I was in the kitchen creating.
Top

Who were the biggest inspirations for your career?
My family!!! My BIG family of eight siblings and parents before marriage and my huge joint family of 15 members after marriage have been my true inspiration !! They have always been my guinea pigs for my experiments, and my best critics for the outcome too!     Top

What do you enjoy most about being recognized as gifted Indian culinary artist?
It is my good fortune that I can share this art over the internet with millions of people esp. Indians abroad (eg. students, newly weds, etc) who need help and recipes with ordinary cooking, but have either no one to call back and keep asking or don't have time to make calls.   Top

What has been your greatest success?
A happy family, a great bond with my brothers and sisters. Being recognized as a good cook, have been some of my greatest success.    Top

What was - if ever your biggest setback?
Nothing of note, really. Coz life has so many bounce back facilities!     Top

What have you done right that has made your career such a success and brought you recognition, media attention, and awards?

Maybe it was grabbing the right opportunity. It always is isn't it ? :) I started writing a Recipe-a-day for a website call Indiaworld.com or Bawarchi.com It was a very small section at that time. But slowly the website gained a lot of traction and did very well. So I do think that being at the right place at the right time, and persevering on my dreams has made my simple love for food and cooking a big success..     Top
 

Personal Preferences 

What are the tools of the trade you use most?

Pan, a wooden ladle and a heat proof rubber spatula. I hate scraping noises of emptying pans, while working in the kitchen. My hands of course ! :)
 
Top

What are your favorite kitchen gadgets? Why?
A sharp knife,  an electric hand blender, a small coffee grinder for my masalas: all these gadgets can be made to multitask.
Top

What are some of the skills that help all cooks/chefs succeed?
Good ingredients, good extempore improvisation abilities and good humor :).    
Top

Do you taste your recipe before you serve it?
Generally get my husband to do it (why risk my taste buds :)   
Top

Which cuisine do you enjoy the most?
Indian, because I've grown up on it, and the variety or choices is mindboggling.   
Top

Which Indian festival inspires you to cook up a storm? And why?
Diwali, because the goodies are appreciated by every member of family and friends, and Holi because a lot of naughty food with mild intoxicants like "bhang" are the mainstay of this festival.  Top

If there was one tip that you would like to share with our audience -  what is your tip for home cooks?
Cooking is far far easier than it seems, so don't get frazzled by complicated recipes and exotic names.  

Break it down to simple steps: the golden rule is one step one line. Find substitutes for what you cannot find, but don't give up.  

Also always start with simple basics and then move ahead, don't start of with exotic cuisine, if you do not know you basics.
Top

What are three of your all time favorite dishes / recipes?
Idli sambar, Chaats and my very own version of au gratin.

Please submit one of your favorite and easy recipe for our audience. 

CHANDRAHARA

 

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups plain flour
3 tbsp. ghee
18-20 cloves
1/2 tsp. cardamom powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup khoya
ghee to deep fry

METHOD

  • Put khoya in fridge for 30 minutes. Keep there till used.  

  • Add 1 cup water to sugar and bring to a boil.

  • Add 2 tbsp. milk to the syrup and remove scum which comes on top. Or simply strain.

  • Boil syrup till sticky between finger and thumb. Cool to room temperature.

  • Meanwhile, add ghee to flour and mix till crumbly.

  • Add enough warm water to make a medium stiff dough.

  • Divide into 18-20 parts, and roll into balls.

  • Roll each into a thin chappati.

  • First fold in half and then quarter.

  • Insert a clove at the center to hold all the folds together.

  • Deep-fry in hot ghee on low till very light brown.

  • Drain and keep aside. Repeat for all dough.

  • Break khoya till coarse crumbs are formed.

  • Mix cardamom and khoya into the cooled syrup.

  • Chill syrup. Store triangles in a tight container.

  • One hour before serving, immerse triangles in the syrup.

  • Take care not to make the crumbs fine, or it will become pasty.

  • For serving, place a triangle in the bowl and pour a spoonful of syrup on top.

  • Serve cold.

Note:  Substitute for khoya if unavailable: Cook 1 cup ricotta cheese gently, take off heat, stir in 1/2 cup evaporated whole milk and mix gently. Cool and use as khoya in most recipes.  Top

Advice 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?
After almost 13 years of writing recipes on the net, I have now had the good fortune of coming out with a cookery book. - Festive Indian Recipes published by Navneet Publications. So follow your dreams. 
Top

What advice can you give to prospective students thinking about an education and career in the culinary arts?

The opportunities in today's world for culinary art are endless, if you're serious, nothing can stop you from succeeding. Everybody needs food!

What advice can you give to busy working moms as far as cooking a nutritious meal is concerned?

Here are a few good tips to remember. 

  • Plan sensibly, organize multitask and use time-saver techniques. 
  • Don't binge on takeaways and junk as a habit.
  • Make often required chutneys, pastes, etc. in larger quantities on weekends, and freeze.
  • Balance what you eat so that you get everything from grains, to veggies, fruit, dals, starch, sugar.  Top

Do you encourage cooking for all boys and girls and at what age should they get started? And why?

Yes, everyone, immaterial of male or female should know at least basics of cooking. That is the only way one can fend for oneself with nutritious, healthy food, immaterial of help at home or not, or if you are alone or in company. Everyone needs food, day in and day out everywhere, no matter on which part or the earth you are. Top

Your favorite food quote is Cook with love .....the expressions on the faces of those who get to sample your food, will pay it back many fold. Top

 

We hope you enjoyed the interview. For more Star Chefs go here. 

.........

 

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