Will take up Obama's cooking challenge: Indian chef

Written by: Zafri Mudasser Nofil
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Barack Obama
New Delhi, June 10: Indian-origin chef Vikas Khanna, who recently cooked for Barack Obama at a fund-raiser event, says he would like to take up the American President's challenge and compete with his cooking of keema curry some day after the US elections.

"President Obama actually is a very big foodie. The President loves spicy food and I'm sure he enjoyed our creations, inspired by Himalayas...," says the Michelin-starred chef.

"Time and again he has asked me to compete with his cooking of keema curry. One day after the elections, I'll take him on the challenge," Amritsar-born Khanna, who recently came out with a cookbook "Flavors First: An Indian Chef's Culinary Journey," told PTI.

The book last week had won America's prestigious Benjamin Franklin Award. According to Khanna, the main character of Indian food imparts a great new flavour to American diners. "The youth that grew up with me love the food."

Khanna has just finished a book called "Return to the Rivers," a reflection of the Himalayan culture and people. The book celebrates the amazing tradition of sharing and the foreword is written by the Dalai Lama.

"I am also finishing an amazing project called 'Khanna Sutra' - the food lessons. This will be released on Valentine's Day next year. It's an amazing book about food and love stories."

"Flavors First", published by Lake Isle Press, Inc. and in India by Om Books, captures the journey of Khanna as a chef and the chapters are devoted to the complete Indian meal including easy handmade breads, a variety of chutneys, appetisers, slow-cooked curries, desserts, and cool refreshing drinks.

Khanna says "Flavors First" celebrates the journey of living in two worlds. "It's about new flavours that have come to my kitchens and ingredients from my heritage that I have shared with the new world," he says.

Nightingale Lata Mangeshkar is one Indian personality for whom Khanna would you love to cook his dream dishes. "Her voice gives us comfort and roots."

Khanna's recipes are versatile - they satisfy meat lovers and vegetarians alike, and are easily adapted to incorporate market-driven ingredients of every season.

The recipes reflect the many memories that have influenced his cooking - from his grandmother's simple traditional dishes to the eye-opening experience of living in New York where he learned to adapt the centuries-old traditions of Indian cooking to the wonders of the city's ethnic diversity.

Throughout his journey, the common link continues to be the vibrant flavours of the food.

PTI

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