Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Connecting the dots

The Hindustan Times  Brunch issue dated 22nd April , 2018 with cover story of Master Chef Vikas Khanna giving a sneak peek into his  Museum of Culinary Arts at Manipal neart Udupi, Karnataka stuck a familiar chord.At the Museum, he has showcased vessels used in Indian kitchens from Mysuru, Kodagu, North East, Kashmir etal.

In fact 3-4 years back, I attended a local literary festival at the Wellingikar Institute of Management, Matunga, Mumbai. There were many authors who talked to enthusiastic crowds. Master chef Sanjeev Kapoor had come as one of the guests.He introduced
 the Amul Master Chef Season 2 winner , Shipra Khanna to the audience & got talking about cooking , food etc. He interacted with the audience. I had posed  a question, "I am from a very conservative community, the Madhwa brahmins. In our temples & mathas ( or mutts )  , food is cooked by brahmin chefs  and served to the devotees by brahmins. Since, it is an exclusive affair, I wondered loud if the delectable recipes of the food served in the temples & mutts would be lost as outsiders are never allowed to serve nor cook.Sanjeev Kapoor' answered, "Please cast your worries aside. We get access everywhere...howsoever strict & conservative , the community is ."I was still skeptical. Because, I know, our temples & mutts have an inexhaustible list of dos & donts.In some mathas & temples, tomatoes are not allowed not even in rasams & sambhars. Food needs to be cooked only on charcoal stoves.A variety of vegetables that are disallowed to be cooked include onions, garlic, drumsticks, cauliflowers,etc. In addition , there are periods, when only some raw materials  can be used & not others.Some times, only pepper & cumin can be used, no lentils to be used & at other times, no milk, no  curds will be used & so on.I have been made  to understand, that, all this is very scientific & based on the season & the weather & yet, this makes cooking restrictive.

I have  met Master Chef Vikas Khanna twice at Blogger meets of IndiBlogger. .My daughter was with me when I met him .The snap below has me with Master Chef Vikas Khanna besides myself & my daughter &   tech guru, Rajiv Makhni  at the Nokia Apptasting Indiblogger meet.

Master Chef Vikas Khanna is very humble person. I recall that the first time, I saw him at the MasterChef India 2 IndiBlogger Meet  at R. K Studios, Chembur, a girl ( who was a blogger)   was cutting onions.She accidentally cut her finger & it started  bleeding. Vikas Khanna took care &  personally attended to her ! He is very down to earth.

The Sri Krishna idol at the Udupi Mutt is installed by Swami Madhvacharya , the Vaishnavite Guru.We the followers of Dvaita phiolosophy advocated by Swami Madhwacharya  are Madhwas or Madhwa Brahmins.I had traveled with my husband & extended family to Haridwar, Badrinath, Varanasi & Allahabad.At each of the places, rituals & other ablutions were performed by various priests attached to numerous  temples & mutts. And yet,prasadam that is food, was always cooked & served by the Udupi Sri Krishna Mutt at the aforesaid places. 

My home state  is Karnataka. I had no clue, that Michelin Star Chef, Vikas Khanna  studied in Manipal. When I saw the Brunch Issue with this culinary museum opened by Vikas  Khanna, in Karnataka, I was wondering why in South India ? And, then, as I read the story, I felt overwhelmed. 

Master Chef Vikas Khanna said of Sri Krishna Matha at Udupi ( as quoted in the Brunch issued dated 22nd April, 2018 )  "I found my Golden Temple in South India  " He opined , " The breakfast at the Sri Krishna Matha at Udupi is the best you can have .This is the place where sambar was invented "He has helped many Sundays ( while he studied at Manipal ) in preparing the prasadam at the temple.I am sure that very soon, Vikas Khanna will come out with a book on temple recipes with special mention of recipes of the Sri Krishna Matha, Udupi. After all, he has penned thirty  books till now.His latest book is  PATRA - The Heritage of Indian Kitchens.His twenty first book,Ütsav : A Culinary   Epic " is priced at eight lakhs & weighs fifteen kilos ! The twelfth copy of this book was auctioned for thirty lacs .The money was donated to an NGO for Children. 

And,as I look back, at my posing the question to Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor about Madhwa recipes getting lost, I feel escastic ! I have been proved wrong & how ! Yes,  Sanjeev Kapoor was right ! The dots have connected in an amazing manner  ! Feeling blessed literally, & in fact ! 

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