A dream project!

Brand Sanjeev Kapoor has tied up with the HRD ministry to structure and design a special menu exclusively for the students of all the 598 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNV) across the country. Needless to say, I am super excited about this venture!

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

Since its inception in 1986, the JNV residential schools have been catering to the extremely meritorious and talented children of rural India, regardless of their socio-economic background. The JNV education system is an exceptional model – 28 out of 30 JNV students appearing for IIT’s get through! And, in such an environment, food is definitely an important factor to bring out the best in the students. Proper nutrition would only lead to the overall well-being of these young ones.

To give you a gist about this quite a dream project for me – I had been in discussion with HRD Union Minister Smriti Irani for a while about how the quality of the meals provided to these children can be improved. I really feel that in today’s age, children tend to end-up eating meals that are not wholesome. Giving importance to nutrition at school levels is the need of the hour and this is the best way I can do my bit towards it. My team and I have been visiting these schools and the R&D is taking a great shape! One important thing here is that, keeping in mind the availability of local ingredients in the specific region, these menus will be customised. I have always encouraged the concept of farm-to-table and I intend to imply it here as well! Not to forget, alongwith making the dishes nutritious, the taste factor will not be compromised. So, its going to be a combination of wholesome yet delicious food!

As I end, with proper nutrition, everything surely falls into place. If the children are eating right, they will perform right and will definitely pave a way towards a brighter future!

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Lessons from the past – Potato Bites

In this ‘lessons from the past’ series we have already spoken about the interesting origins of some of our favourite foods.  While several ingredients we spoke about have colonial pasts surrounded by mystery and speculation the invention of potato chips is a clear cut and almost funny story which is definitely worth a read.

Potato Chips

A chip on your shoulder

Who doesn’t love potato chips? Thin, crisp and fried to perfection, a bag of potato chips is a clear crowd pleaser! People may think that the potato chip is a result of years of experiments and innovation in the kitchen, but in reality it was produced in a fit of indignation. The story dates back to 1853 in Saratoga, New York, when an American Indian Chef, George Crum, was delivering an order of the standard French fries to a customer. This customer however, was unhappy with them as he said they are too thick and sent back the order. Chef Crum then cut up a slightly thinner batch and sent them out, which too were returned. This did not go down very well with Chef Crum and he decided to irk the customer by cutting the potatoes as thinly as he could, so they could not even be picked up by a fork. These chips were served to the customer who completely loved them, much to the surprise of the chef. These thin, crispy deep-fried slices of potatoes soon gained much popularity and were known as Saratoga chips. They began featuring on the menus of several restaurants in and around the area. Later, when Chef George Crum started his own restaurant called Crumbs house, these potato chips were served complimentary at every table!

The humble potato chip has since then been one of the world’s favourite form for munchies. Its popularity continues to grow because as you might have heard and probably also know from first-hand experience that – no one can eat just one!

You don’t have to feel guilty about cheating on your diet while eating potato chips. You can just as easily bake them in an oven tray instead of deep-frying them in oil. Then customize the seasonings to your specifications. My favorites are a hot peri-peri or a cool mix of dried mint and salt – depending upon my mood. What’s yours? Leave a comment below

Lessons from the past – La Tomatina

The next ingredient we are discussing in this ‘lessons from the past’ series is an indispensable ingredient in most kitchens of the world. Its origin and acceptance in the kitchen is surrounded by controversy. We are talking about plump juicy bright red tomatoes – read on and find out how these moved from being in an ornamental garden to your plate.

Tomatoes 1

Tomato trivia

Being considered a vegetable instead of a fruit is not the only misconception surrounding a tomato. This fruit is not new to controversy. It is odd that even though tomatoes were originally from America, they were not consumed there. Tomatoes were initially used as an ornamental plant, because of the pretty red berries on it. Tomatoes were not eaten because people thought they are poisonous. This belief arises from the fact that tomatoes belong to the nightshade family of plants, most of which are indeed venomous in nature. Tomatoes were initially called ‘wolf peach’ for the same reason. The strong nature of odours from the leaves and stems of this plant reinforced this belief. It wasn’t long before people realized that tomatoes are edible and can be used in several ways in the kitchen. By the early 1800’s tomatoes had become an integral part of food cultures all around the world. The popularity of tomatoes increased greatly after the discovery of the pizza and several other dishes from South Europe for which tomato was an essential ingredient. Tomatoes have ever since grown in popularity and are used in millions of recipes worldwide. They are now considered as one of the healthiest fruits – loaded with several beneficial vitamins and minerals that are anything but harmful for you. So go ahead and add several dimensions to your recipes with this great fruit.

Chef Kapoor’s Tip: Choose the smaller, flat, thin-skinned tomatoes for making sauces. They will not only give better quality sauce, even the flavour will be better and there will be less residue after straining the puree. You can freeze leftover tomato puree in ice cube trays and use it as and when required.