If you were to look up the list of the most influential and acclaimed celebrity chefs of Indian cuisine, the names of Vikas Khanna, Sanjeev Kapoor, Tarla Dalal, Anjum Anand, Atul Kochhar, Vineet Bhatia, Ranveer Brar, and Madhur Jaffrey are sure to feature on it. Though divided by geography, they are bound by their common love for Indian cuisine. Together they have put India on the global culinary map.

Thanks to television channels, they became household names, reaching millions of homes not only in India but abroad. Their on-screen personalities have a tremendous hold over their audience. The way they talk and engage with their viewers is very appealing. They come across as eager individuals who delight in sharing their knowledge and helping people develop a passion for cooking simple yet delicious food at home.

Indian cuisine
Indian cuisine comprises innumerable dishes that have unique regional flavors.  Source:pixabay.com

These famous chefs have introduced people in India and abroad to the best of what Indian cuisine has to offer. With diversified portfolios that include self-owned restaurants, a range of ready-to-cook mixes and craft spice blends, kitchen essentials, and a lot more, they are big brands in the culinary world.  They are recipients of some of the highest culinary awards and civilian honors like the Michelin Star and the Padma Shri.

Creating new recipes, adding personal touches and reworking traditional recipes, simplifying cooking methods, salvaging nearly lost culinary techniques, identifying the best ingredients - all these and much more are accomplished by them in their quest to convince viewers about the beauty of home cooking tasty and healthy food.

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Vikas Khanna: The Michelin Star Indian Chef

Chef Vikas Khanna has created a niche for himself in the culinary world. He is known for his modern twists on traditional Indian dishes. His love of cooking since his childhood propelled him into a culinary career. He migrated to the US to pursue his higher studies in culinary arts. On completion of his training, he struggled for a few years in New York, doing odd jobs at restaurants till he finally got his break as the executive chef at Salaam Bombay, an Indian restaurant in New York. He then went on open Junoon, his upscale Michelin Star restaurant in Manhattan.

Vikas Khanna
Vikas Khanna is a global culinary icon with followers all over the world. Source: yourstory.com

Junoon means passion. The place truly reflects Kapoor's passion for his native culinary traditions. The restaurant is frequented by the rich and famous, keen to experience Indian dining at its best. His talent is respected and acknowledged by other legendary chefs like Gordon Ramsay who has collaborated with Khanna on various television shows like Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares. He has also appeared as guest judge and judge in various versions of MasterChef, one of the most popular competitive cooking show formats in the world.  Khanna is also a published cookbook writer. He is the author of Utsav, the most expensive cookbook in the world.

Sanjeev Kapoor: The Most Famous Chef in India

Kapoor is a legendary figure in the Indian culinary scene. He rose to fame with his cooking show, Khana Khazana on Zee TV, which ran for 18 years, making it the longest-running television show in Asia. The show reached more than 500 million viewers in more than 120 countries and made him a household name. He taught viewers to cook a wide variety of tasty Indian food following his simple recipes. He is undoubtedly one of the best chefs India has produced.

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor has contributed to making Indian cuisine highly sought-after and popular among food lovers across the globe.  His signature restaurants in the Middle East and the West have allowed food connoisseurs to taste authentic and timeless Indian dishes. He has written innumerable cookbooks and developed a website that has over 15000 tried and tested vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes.

Sanjeev Kapoor
Sanjeev Kapoor was awarded the Padma Shri for his contributions in 2017. Source: outlookindia.com

Kapoor is also an astute entrepreneur. Wonderchef, a brand of kitchen appliances is owned by him. He also owns a 24 x 7 food channel and a range of spices and ready-to-cook mixes. He is equally enthusiastic about training aspiring chefs and with that aim, he has opened a culinary college in partnership with Symbiosis University.

Tarla Dalal: The First Celebrity Chef of India

Tarla Dalal is hailed as India's first celebrity chef. She had begun her career as a culinary teacher to 5 students. Her reputation grew manifolds in a very short time and had aspiring learners, queue up to take her classes. She is credited with teaching the Indian audience to cook Chinese, American, Mexican, French, Italian, Lebanese, and Thai dishes along with tasty Indian dishes at home. She has easy recipes for different kinds of vegetarian items, covering all courses from breakfast to dessert.

Tarla Dalal
Dalal introduced Indians to popular dishes from other cuisines. Source: darpanmagazine.com

Tarla Dalal was India's most prolific cookbook writer, with 170 titles to her name. Her book, ' The Pleasures of Vegetarian Cooking', published in 1974 sold 1.5 million copies. A lot of her books have been translated into several foreign and Indian languages. Her recipes also take health issues into consideration.

Dalal has her own website that houses around 17,000 recipes. these recipes, developed through careful research, suggest ingredients and cooking methods that can curb the calorie content of the food to make it edible and enjoyable for everyone.  Her show, Cook it Up with Tarla Dalal on Sony TV was extremely popular. With co-host Sudhanshu Pandey assisting him in the kitchen, she taught Indian viewers to cook all sorts of vegetarian dishes.  She was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2007. Dalal passed away in November 2013, leaving behind a very rich legacy.

Anjum Anand: The Nigella Lawson of Indian Cuisine in Britain

Chef Anujum Anand has introduced Britain to home cooking Indian food, traditionally regarded as oily, unhealthy, and difficult to prepare. Though she grew up in London, her affinity for Indian food remained strong all through.  It was this interest that made her pursue a career in the culinary field despite having a degree in business administration. Though she worked with top-end restaurants across the globe, preparing high-end dishes, her heart lay in cooking simple and healthy Indian food, that is easy to make at home.

She encourages using ingredients and cooking techniques that make food tasty yet healthy. Her food embodies a strong flavor profile, created by the use of a variety of spices which she loves to use.  Anand's recipes reflect a deep knowledge of regional culinary traditions in India. This is a result of her frequent visits to the country where she spends time exploring the culinary culture in and out.  These visits serve as inspiration for her work, helping her compile her comprehensive cookbooks.

Anjum Anand
Anjum advocates using cooking methods that make food light on the stomach. Source: eatprayworkout.com

Anjum Anand is also a known face on television in Britain, making appearances on a lot of cookery shows. Her recipes are regularly published in The Sunday Times, Sainsbury magazine, and more. She has written several cookbooks and many of them have made it to Amazon's best-selling lists. Her latest book, 'I Love India', according to her is her best and most personal work to date. The Spice Tailor is her brand of ready-to-cook mixes, whose products are highly rated by consumers.

India's culinary traditions are as varied as its geographical landscape. Every region, from North to south, east to west, has something unique to offer. But the common underlying thread is the use of spices. This is what lends to Indian cuisine a very distinctive taste.  Adding spice to curry makes it flavorful and elevates the taste of the food.

Spices
In India, the use of spices is what binds different regional culinary traditions together. Source: unsplash.com

The best Indian chefs are masters in the art of using spices. They also bring advanced culinary skills to the table, acquired from years of practice. Their experience in culinary art and science helps them to create authentic recipes that are easy to follow. Their primary aim is to share their knowledge with their followers and inspire them to cook Indian food at home. Master chefs like Vikas Khanna, Sanjeev Kapoor, Tarla Dalal, Anjum Anand, and others have made Indian cuisine popular world-wide.  Their endeavor has always been to make Indian food more accessible and their restaurants, cookbooks, and shows are testimony to the same.

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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.