GREAT CHEFS, GOOD FOOD with Executive Chef Suresh Khanna_20.
REFT Today's interview conversation of Khatibah Rehmat and Executive Chef Suresh Khanna from Hotel Fortune Landmark—Ahmedabad, Gujarat in it's Exclusive Talk Show—GREAT CHEFS, GOOD FOOD and the topic is: WHAT DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU GET THE NEWS, THAT YOU ARE GOING TO COOK FOR US PRESIDENT—DONALD TRUMP?
1) Tell us about yourself; how did you begin your career, stating your birthplace, education and all rewards you get in your culinary career.
Chef Suresh Khanna: My name is Chef Suresh Khanna; I have been born and brought up in Ahmedabad—Gujarat. I signed off my Hotel Management from PUSA—New Delhi and started as a Commi 3 in Sarovar Park Plaza—Pune, then shifted to Le Meridien—Ahemdabad as an Executive Chef. Presently, I am working with Hotel Fortune Landmark as an Executive Chef for more than 3.5 decades.
I have collected many awards at cookery contests nationwide. For last 7 years, I am performing weekly shows on Zee TV, ETV and TV9. I feel proud when my articles publish in Times of India, Ahmedabad Mirror, Indian Express, India Today, Femina, DNA and Gujarati local newspaper. I have arranged in-stadium catering for IPL 2010 in Motera stadium Ahmedabad which lasted for three days that included the players' diet menus as advised by their coach. I have managed catering for the former President of India Late Dr. Abdul Kalam and the Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi.
2) Spending more than 3.5 decades in this industry and one day you get the news to serve the world's most powerful person Donald Trump. What was your feeling when you first get the notice?
Chef Suresh Khanna: I have served for more than 30 years in hospitality industry with the most prestigious brands. I remained overwhelmed by the eternal trust jellied up by the nation. It is indeed a great pleasure to cook for US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I went head over heels. Concerning the ethos, I deal with copious panoramas as the defense was highly secure. I ought to exhibit my culinary skills and confront their appetites and expectations. We hold an entire group reaping a shot on the menu that has been inquired by the government. We have proposed to heighten the essence of India.
Satisfaction is a sentiment of being content that yes, you have given your absolute best into each dish; every guest order, be it an a la carte or a banquet function. Escorting a cheerful guest who appreciated the food you could convey to his desires; is the best sentiment of satisfaction for a gourmet expert.
3) You are continuously serving Politicians like PM Narendra Modi and film stars like Amitabh Bachchan. What are your feelings when it comes to serving general guests? Have you ever become brand conscious?
Chef Suresh Khanna: Numerous chefs would be thrilled with a triumphant eatery or possibly a couple of widely read cookbooks. I relish life as a professional celebrity chef up a notch, learnt new skills and knowledge from expert chefs in my motherland. Working with the most prestigious brand ITC, is admittedly surpassing exposure and a platform to propel. For me, serving all guests of mine is indeed a privilege, considering politicians, celebrities, or general guests. I am a nevermore brand conscious.
Concerning those chefs whose hearts and minds, usually ruled by our stomachs and a truly fantastic meal can turn even the direst of times into a delightful one. Behind the surge in the food-related shows, there is a smattering of celebrity chefs that bring personality, culinary know-how and a dash of intrigue to the dinner table. Always be a people's person, don't be scared to come in the front and make yourself visible. Read, review and rediscover things that will earn you spotted in this competing industry.
4) Several Chefs change their jobs and even their profiles in their early careers, but what made you stick to one place for the last 3.5 decades? Is patience the reason behind your successful career?
Chef Suresh Khanna: Patience is a virtue of key. From peeling of potatoes and sweet limes to the cleaning of prawns and garlic, it some way or another didn't exhaust me. I took every phase of that stage as a building block for my future. Whenever you serve at a significant level to a high number of guests, you need patience. As an overall note, understand why you aspire to grow into this profession, be mentally assured and physically fit to buckle up. One must hold an uplifting stance and no egos fastened in the bundle.
Have a sense of acceptance of criticism and take it arbitrarily and work to pursue growth. The fundamental reason for switching or quitting this industry is a lack of patience and passion. Never think you know it all; there is always something that we all may not know. A receptive outlook to accepting knowledge will perpetually be a good gesture.
5) Last but not least, please tell our readers about any of your chosen dishes so that they will come to know what the Gujarati dish is.
Chef Suresh Khanna: There are a variety of dishes I would say. I love doing Indian cuisine since the beginning and Gujarati cuisines are one of my all-time hits with my guests.
For Besan Gatta
1 ½ Gram flour
5 Tbsp Oil
Pinch of Asafoetida
1 Tbsp Red chili powder
¼ Tbsp Turmeric powder
1 Tbsp Cumin seeds
1 Tbsp Kasuri methi
½ Tbsp Baking Soda
2 Tbsp Ginger-Garlic paste
¼ Cup Yogurt (plain)
Salt to taste
Add gram flour, asafoetida, red chili powder, turmeric powder, salt, cumin seeds, kasuri methi, ginger-garlic paste, yogurt and oil to a large mixing bowl. Add baking soda at the end.
Mix well to knead into a stiff dough. If needed, add 2 tablespoons of water.
Divide the dough into 4-6 equal portions and shape them into 10 inches long thin cylindrical roll (Gatta).
Add cylindrical rolls to the boiling water in a pan.
Cover the pan and boil over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes until the rolls (Gatta) float on the surface, then remove them from heat.
Drain Gatta from water and transfer them on a plate. Set the Gatta rolls aside to cool slightly (Keep the Gatta water aside; will add this water to the curry base).
Once the Gattas are cooled, cut each cylinder into 10-12 pieces and keep them aside.
Gattas are ready. We will add them to the curry base.
For Besan Gatta Curry Sauce:
3-4 Tbsp Oil
2 Tbsp Cumin seeds
¾ Cup of Onion, Ginger, Garlic paste (medium-sized onions, 1-inch ginger, 6 garlic cloves)
1 medium-sized Green Chili (Chopped)
½ Turmeric powder
½ Coriander Powder
Pinch of Asafoetida
1 Tbsp Red Chili powder
¼ Tbsp Garam Masala powder
2 Tbsp Kasuri methi
1 ½ Cup of Yogurt (whisked)
Salt to taste
Add oil in a heated pan, then asafoetida and cumin seeds.
When the seeds begin to crackle, add the onion-ginger-garlic paste.
Sauté the onion-ginger-garlic paste till golden brown.
Add red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, kasuri methi and garam masala along with boiled gatta water we kept aside earlier. Cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Now lower the heat and slowly add the whisked yogurt. Mix well and stir it continuously till it comes to a boil.
Once the oil will come up to the surface, add gatta pieces, salt, green chili, and fenugreek leaves.
Let the curry cook, covered on medium—low heat for 10-12 minutes for the flavors to concentrate. Keep stirring occasionally.
Transfer the curry to a serving dish and garnish with chopped green chilies.
Serve it hot with rice or flatbread.
Recipe no. 2 LAHSOONIYA BATAKA
Refined Soya bean oil
250 grams Baby Potato
100 grams Chopped Onions
15 grams Chopped Garlic
15 grams Crushed Garlic
50-80 grams Chopped Tomato
5-8 Dry Red Kashmiri Chili
1-2 Ginger Julienne
2 Bay leaf
½ Tbsp Cumin seeds
Pinch of Asafoetida
¼ Tbsp Turmeric Powder
½ Tbsp Coriander Powder
½ Tbsp Cumin Powder
¼ Tbsp Chat Masala
50 ml Water
Finely Chopped Green Coriander
Soak de-stem and de-seeded Kashmiri red chili in hot water for 20 minutes.
Make a smooth and fine paste using little water and refined oil.
Boil baby potato when 70% done, then peel and prick them with the help of a fork or toothpick, let it cool.
Heat oil in a frying pan and add pricked baby potatoes and cook on medium flame.
Remove them when golden fry and put on an absorbent paper.
Add oil in a heated pan, then add whole red chili, bay leaf, cumin seeds let it crackle, then add asafoetida powder, finely chop garlic and onion, cook till onion is translucent, add fine chop tomato, and cook for a minute.
Add the powdered spices and Kashmiri chili paste, salt, and crushed garlic cloves and cook for 2 minutes.
Add fried baby potatoes and little water to get a smooth consistency.
Let the potatoes get coated with gravy and further cook for 2-3 minutes.
Garnish with green coriander leaves, ginger julienne, fried whole red chili.
Serve it hot with flatbread.
INTERVIEWED: Executive Chef Suresh Khanna.
INTERVIEW TAKEN BY: Khatibah Rehmat
Senior Journalist and Writer.
PICTURE COURTESY: Executive Chef Suresh Khanna.
EDITING DONE BY: Suniti Garg Sub—Editor.