Any article or list on the best chefs in India is bound to feature the name of Sanjeev Kapoor. After all, his television show, 'Khana Khazana', the longest-running cookery show in Asia, ran for 18 years. He shot into the limelight with this show in 1992 and became a household name in India, inspiring millions to home cook tasty dishes by following his easy recipes. Cooking at home was no longer boring, and restaurant food could now be made at home by simply replicating the process he demonstrated in his show.

Sanjeev Kapoor
TV channel CNN named Sajeev Kapoor as the chef who made Indian cuisine cool. Source: entrepreneur.com

It's been a fantastic journey for him, one that is marked with success. Over the years, India’s most celebrated chef has also proved himself as an equally capable entrepreneur. He has a diverse and impressive portfolio. His business ventures range from 24 x 7 TV channel FoodFood to premium cookware and appliances brand Wonderchef, to a chain of restaurants across India and abroad.

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Introducing India on a Platter

Sanjeev Kapoor has played a major role in making Indian food a much sought-after cuisine outside India. His restaurant brands like Signature and Khazana are present in Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi, and Canada among other places. These upscale restaurants serve the best dishes that Indian cuisine has to offer.

There's news that he has major expansion plans for Sanjeev Kapoor Restaurants Pvt. Ltd., his chain of restaurants. He hopes to open 50 new outlets in the next few years in North America and West Asia. The group currently has 65 outlets under different brands in nine countries. Except for its premium restaurants which are exclusively owned by the group, SKRPL prefers to have a local partner while setting up a business in a foreign country.

Recipes of Sanjeev Kapoor are available on sanjeevkapoor.com. It's a repository of more than 15,000 tried and tested recipes. It is popular among people in the country as well as NRIs. Given below are recipes of two dishes that are hot favorites.

Pav Bhaji Recipe by Sanjeev Kapoor

Pav Bhaji is popular, easy-to-make street food. This spicey vegetarian dish is easy to prepare and makes for a great breakfast item or party snack. Generous dollops of butter are a must to experience the dish in all its glory. Here is the master chef's recipe for making the dish at home.

Prep Time: 31-40 minutes

Cook time: 26-30 minutes

Serve: 4

Ingredients required:

  • Medium-sized chopped onions - 2
  • Ginger paste - 1 teaspoon
  • Garlic paste - 1 teaspoon
  • Chopped green chilly - 3 to 4
  • Finely chopped medium-sized tomatoes - 4
  • grated green peas - 1/4 cup
  • grated cauliflower - 1/4 cup
  • Tomato puree – ¼ cup
  • Seeded chopped capsicum - 1
  • Freshly chopped coriander leaves - 1/4 cup
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice
  • Pav bread
  • Pav Bhaji Masala
pav bhaji
His pav bhaji recipe is easy and the outcome is an authentic tasting dish. Source: kaisekare.bharat

Method:

  1. Heat 3 tbsps of oil in a non-stick pan. Once hot, add the chopped onions to the pan and sauté them until golden brown. Next, add the ginger and garlic pastes, chopped chilies, tomato and stir well
  2. Add 1 and 1/2 tbsp of pav bhaji masala in the pan and mix it with the ingredients to prepare the base for your bhaji. Let it simmer on a medium flame for 3 minutes.
  3. Now add mashed boiled potato to the gravy and give it a thorough stir. Pour water as required in the pan to mix everything properly. Add tomato puree to the gravy, followed by salt to taste
  4. Next, add your veggies-grated peas, cauliflower, capsicum, and coriander leaves. Let the ingredients simmer on low flame for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir well and add a dash of lemon to your bhaji. Add generous spoons of butter to your bhaji to elevate the taste of the dish
  6. Serve with hot pav bread. Don’t forget to brush the inner sides of the slices with butter.

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Butter Chicken Recipe by Sanjeev Kapoor

Butter chicken is a classic North Indian dish and immensely popular across the globe. Any Indian hotel or restaurant will have this dish on its menu. As the name suggests, generous portions of butter go into the making of this dish. Chunks of grilled chicken in a creamy masala make this non-vegetarian curry, a favorite of both children and adults. This delicious dish is also popular by its Hindi name - murgh makhani. Kapoor's butter chicken recipe is a time-tested one and the end result of cooking it at home is equally good as its restaurant counterpart.

Prep Time: 26-30 minutes

Cook time: 31-40 minutes

Serve: 4

Ingredients required:

  • Boneless chicken cut into 1½ inch pieces 400 grams
  • Lemon juice 1 tablespoon
  • Kashmiri red chili powder 1 teaspoon
  • Salt to taste
  • Butter 2 tablespoons

For marinade:

  • Yogurt 1/2 cup
  • Ginger paste 2 teaspoons
  • Garlic paste 2 teaspoons
  • Kashmiri red chili powder 1/2 teaspoon
  • Garam masala powder 1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt to taste
  • Mustard oil 2 teaspoons

For gravy:

  • Butter 2 tablespoons
  • Green cardamom 2
  • Clove 2
  • Black peppercorns 2-3
  • Cinnamon 1 inch piece
  • Ginger paste 1 teaspoon
  • Garlic paste 1 teaspoon
  • Tomato puree 1/2 cup
  • Red chili powder 1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar 2 tablespoons
  • Kasoori methi 1/2 teaspoon
  • Fresh cream 1/2 cup
Butter Chicken
Butter chicken is as popular as chicken tikka masala with food lovers across the globe. Source: dailymotion.com

Method:

  1. Make a mixture of red chili powder, lemon juice, and salt. Apply it to the chicken pieces and set keep it in the refrigerator for half an hour.
  2. Take yogurt in a muslin cloth and hang it for fifteen to twenty minutes to remove extra water. make a marinade by adding the ginger and garlic pastes, red chili and garam masala powders, salt, and mustard oil to the yogurt.
  3. Apply this marinade to the chicken pieces and place them in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours.
  4. Place the chicken pieces onto skewers and cook in the preheated oven (200°C/400°F) or a moderately hot tandoor for 10 to 12 minutes or until almost done.
  5. Baste with the butter and cook for another two minutes. Remove and set aside.
  6. Once your chicken is ready, proceed to make the makhni gravy. Heat the butter in a non-stick pan and add the green cardamoms, cloves, peppercorns, and cinnamon.
  7. Sauté the spices for 2 minutes, add the ginger and garlic pastes and sauté for two minutes. Add the tomato puree, red chili powder, salt, half a cup of water, and stir well.
  8. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for ten minutes. Add the sugar or honey and powdered kasoori methi.
  9. Add the cooked tandoori chicken pieces. Simmer for five minutes and add the fresh cream. Serve hot with naan, parantha, or basmati rice.

The Journey of the Master Chef

Sanjeev Kapoor began his career in the hospitality industry in 1984 after completing his education in Hotel Management from the Institute of Hotel Management Catering & Nutrition, Pusa, New Delhi. He has worked in India and abroad as a chef before embarking on his entrepreneurial ventures.

In fact, it was while working at the Centaur Hotel in Mumbai, that he was invited to host a cooking show on Zee TV, the satellite channel whose viewership at that time was on the decline. This kind of show on Indian television was unheard of. But the gamble paid off as 'Khana Khaza' went on to run for 18 years, the longest for any kind of show in Asia. The show was broadcast in more than 120 countries and reached more than 500 million viewers. Thus, History was made and there was no looking back for this chef. His show received fantastic reviews and he became a celebrity in his own right.

The contribution of this chef to culinary science and in making Indian cuisine popular earned him the Padma Shri in 2017, the fourth highest national honor in India. The only other chef who has been bestowed this honor was Tarla Dalal.  He also holds a Guinness World Record for cooking 918 kg khichdi with the help of 50 volunteers, live at World Food India 2017, a global event held in New Delhi.

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Signature

The Author & Entrepreneur

Sanjeev Kapoor is a prolific writer of cookbooks. He has more than 200 titles to his name. These bestsellers are available in 7 languages.  ‘The Yellow Chilli Cookbook’ authored by him was awarded the Best International Cookbook at the 2012 International Book Awards. Apart from writing books, Chef Kapoor has an enviable portfolio of business ventures. Under the brand name Sanjeev Kapoor’s KhanaKhazana, he has launched a wide range of pure and blended spices, pickles, gourmet chutneys, and ready-to-eat mixes for customers in India and abroad.

Wonderchef, is a line of cookware and kitchen appliances that he has launched. It has an innovative business model, aimed at empowering women. As a master chef, it was only natural for him to want to share his extensive knowledge and wisdom with aspiring cooks and train them. With this in mind, he has set up, Sanjeev Kapoor Academy that offers short-term online cooking programs. He has started Symbiosis School of Culinary Arts in collaboration with Symbiosis University. The institute offers diplomas and degrees to students who want to pursue a career in hospitality.

Celebrity chefs like him, Vikas Khanna, and Anjum Anand among others have been instrumental in making Indian cuisine more accessible to food lovers across the world. Their contemporary takes on traditional recipes have set trends that are followed by millions of aspiring chefs.  They have also made home cooking a stylish and interesting affair by not only sharing their recipes but also educating their audience on food culture, techniques, ingredients, and all that are essential to making delicious and drool-worthy delicacies.

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Shreyanjana

Shreyanjana is an archaeologist who ironically finds the written word to be the most powerful means of storytelling. A travel buff and a photography enthusiast, she has been writing and sharing stories of all sorts ever since she can remember.