Last week Michelin star chef and founder of fine dining Indian restaurant Junoon, Vikas Khanna, touched down in Dubai (from Cannes Film Festival no less) to launch his much anticipated book Utsav (which boasts 1200 pages and weighs nearly 16 kilos thanks to the pure gold writing inside) along with a brand new summer menu. I sat down with the man behind the menu to pick his brains about all things edible…
How long have you been a chef?
Almost all my life. I started my own business at around 16-years old with my mother and grandmother.
Where did you get your passion for food?
There is a Sikh shrine near my house in India called The Golden Temple. It had an amazing kitchen, which became my hiding place when I needed to escape, and I developed an unapologetic love for food.
If you weren’t a chef, you’d be…?
A farmer. There’s something so magical about putting something in the ground and watching it grow.
Favourite cuisine to cook apart from Indian?
Bhutanese food. I’m so in awe of their minimalistic cooking techniques. It’s so easy to complicated food; if you’re given 20 different ingredients and asked to make an amazing dish, it’s easy! But when you’re only given three ingredients and asked to make something amazing it becomes so much harder. And that’s what Bhutanese food is like: simple but inspiring.
What is the most essential item in your kitchen?
Salt! I have about 160 different types of Salt in my kitchen and I collect it all over the world whenever I travel.
Top three Indian dishes everyone should try?
Everyone should try a great British creation of chicken tikka masala and a samosa. If you find a good samosa, you don’t need to eat anything else.
You’re stranded on a desert island. What five foods would you want with you?
Granola bars, boiled eggs and water.
What do you cook at home that you’d never cook in a restaurant?
You’ve just gifted your brand new book Utsav to President Narendra Modi, President Barack Obama, the Dalai Lama, The Pope and The Queen of England. If you could have any celebrity (dead or alive) eat at your restaurant, who would it be?
Simon and Garfunkel.