Chef Anirudh Sethi on reviving forgotten and lost recipes

Someone rightly said that you can do anything if you have the passion, the drive and the focus. From realizing his passion for cooking to judging aspiring MasterChefs in two MasterChef India seasons, Chef Anirudh Sethi has come a long way. A chef with over 20 years of experience and a successful entrepreneur, Chef Anirudh has never ignored his love for cooking and this is what has made him one of the most popular chefs in India.

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Founder of ‘The Mad Fat Chef Hospitality, Chef Anirudh Sethi has never failed to impress us with his incredible cooking skills. Currently working on lost and forgotten dishes of Indian cuisine, Chef Anirudh believes that Indian cuisine is very rich and diverse. “My absolute goal is to give a new shape to Indian cuisine so that people know how beautiful it is,” added the chef. In an exclusive chat with Slurrp, Chef Anirudh Sethi spoke candidly about his journey, his passion for cooking, his experience as a judge at MasterChef India and his future goals.

How did you become a chef and what challenges did you encounter?

It was basically by accident that I became a chef. Previously, I worked with my father in our family business until 2000. But after that, I gave up my family business, thanks to my love for cooking. My father scolded me for spending too much time in the kitchen and cooking like ladies. But it was my passion to cook and do something new with food. That’s what got me into this field and made me a leader. Thinking about becoming a chef was a turning point in my life. I cooked rice when I was just 7 years old and my mother was shocked to see that this 7 year old boy managed to cook rice, albeit kaccha-pakka.

Speaking of challenges, my dad didn’t create obstacles but hated when I cooked. He used to say “kya tu aurton ki tarah kitchen main rehta hain” and I used to say “I like to cook and I want to be a chef only”. The real obstacles were my seniors in the industry. Some of them did not want a young boy to become chief. But after a while they realized that this boy had potential and could do better. They accepted me and now I consider myself a good leader.

Who do you consider your inspiration?

It could not be other than my mother because it is thanks to her that I realized what my passion is. My guru is my mother. I believe there is a mother behind every successful chef, be it Chef Vikas Khanna or Chef Ranveer Brar. They all give credit to their mother and me too. Even today, I ask a lot of things from my mother and I’m still learning.

What is your strong point? We have seen that your Instagram account is full of desi dishes. What made you love Indian cuisine so much?

My strong point is Indian curry and tandoor. Since I’ve been in this industry for over 20 years now, I’ve become accustomed to other cuisines like Lebanese, Chinese, Mexican, Thai, etc. But my absolute goal is to bring our Indian cuisine in a special form so that everyone can experience the beauty of Indian cuisine. Above all, I work on lost recipes and research dishes that people don’t know about. From pulao Phulkari to chitt, there are many dishes, especially in Punjabi cuisine, which people were unaware of. Indian cuisine is very rich and everyone must know it. I specialized in showing people what Indian cuisine is.

Have you judged budding chefs over two seasons of MasterChef India? How was your experience?

Yes, I was one of the preliminary judges for the 6th and 7th seasons of MasterChef India and it was a very good experience. MasterChef India has given a platform to many people. When judging, it was our job to see if the entrant was worth advancing to the final round. It was definitely a great experience and I learned a lot. There is learning every day, whether it is a MasterChef or a kitchen. Not only do budding Masterchefs, but we also get a platform to learn from.

What’s your absolute comfort food?

It is none other than ‘Kadhi Chawal’. Let me tell you one thing. If given the choice to choose between Chappan bhog and kadhi chawal, I would choose kadhi chawal without thinking for even a second. My second favorite comfort food after kadhi chawal would be ‘Sambar Chawal’. These two dishes are something I wish I had every day of my life. I am an absolute rice lover as I stayed in Kashmir for a few years. Over so many years, I realized that I couldn’t live without rice.

What prompted you to create Mad Fat Chef Hospitality?

This adventure was also an accident in my life. Speaking of the name ‘Mad Fat Chef Hospitality’, this name was given by one of my clients. When I offered him food, he liked it so much he said, “You’re a crazy fat chef.” That’s when I decided that every time I opened my own business, I would name it that. Mad Fat Chef Hospitality is basically a consulting company where we consult people who want to open restaurants, hotels, etc. all over India. I also opened a “Kebabs And Curries” restaurant in Bahrain and it works well!

What’s next we’ll see? Do you plan to open other businesses of this type?

Definitely, you will see a lot of things coming. Currently, my six projects are taking place in Delhi and outside Delhi as well. This journey won’t end until I’m alive. Rest depends on my destiny and above all on God, as on what he has decided for me. He knows better than me.

What is the most special dish you want people to know about and would you like to share a recipe for it?

Although there are so many dishes, I would like to choose Phulkari Pulao. It is a very correct and very good dish. Phulkari Pulao has a very amazing story. It was made during the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Patiala. It is essentially composed of khoya and curd. When we saute khoya and curd together it splits and when we add rice to it it reaches speckles and this unique design looks like Phulkari. This pulao is garnished with dried fruits and pomegranate seeds. It’s a sweet and savory dish and you don’t need anything with it. Here is the recipe:

Phulkari Pulao

Ingredients

  • 200g basmati rice
  • 25ml milk
  • 25g khoya
  • 75g curd
  • 5g white pepper
  • 75g ghee
  • 15g slivered almonds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 to 5 cardamoms
  • 2 pieces of cinnamon
  • Pinch of turmeric powder
  • 2 split green peppers
  • 20g sugar
  • 900ml water
  • Salt to taste

For garnish

  • 15g cashew nuts
  • 15g pistachio
  • 10g pomegranate seeds

Method

  • Heat a pan and add the ghee.
  • When the ghee gets hot, add the bay leaf, cardamom and cinnamon.
  • Let the masalas leave their flavor in the ghee then add the khoya.
  • Quickly add a little water so that the khoya does not burn.
  • After everything is mixed, add the curd and mix well.
  • Stir the curd continuously so that it does not curdle.
  • Mix everything and keep mixing until it starts to boil.
  • Then add salt to taste and mix well.
  • Add milk and saffron. Mix again.
  • Add the sugar and stir well.
  • Add some cashews, almonds, pistachios and raisins.
  • Add some turmeric powder and 2 split green chillies.
  • Then add the soaked rice and mix well.
  • Add water and cook for 10 minutes. Cover the lid.
  • Garnish with cashews and pomegranate seeds.


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