Vikas Khanna's Young Chef

10:09 AM

I don't think I have ever been so exited about a cookbook. And, I love cooking, love cookbooks and discovering new recipes.
But this book, first caught my attention in a coffee shop in Delhi. I KNEW I had to get it. Last week I decided to splurge.

Vikas Khanna's young chef

There is not much to rave about in the world of Indian cookbooks. We all know Tarla Dalal, her books are uninspiring, and her recipes rarely work if you follow them to the T. Then there is Nitha Metha whose books are really geared toward the housewife who wants to add more prestige to her cooking repertoire. The recipes are more or less working but it lacks the excitement that should go with cooking. And then there is Sanjeev Kapoor who really was the only one to really put the fun in long as you are an adult that is.

This cookbook by Master Chef's host and Michelin Chef is the first Indian one that is geared toward kids. And I mean it as in INVOLVING kids in the process. All the other cookbooks author had a kids reciepe book, but it was more about teach "Mrs Kumar" how to create perfect tiffin that will shut the other "Mrs Kumar" accross the street up. None of them had real healthy fare to begin with, and none really spoke to a child.

In the introduction paragraph of Young Chefs, Vikas Khanna speaks of his childhood memories spent in the kitchen with his grand mother and how it ignited his passion for cooking.
I can relate, I have the fondest memories from my childhood originating from a kitchen, be it my mom's (or rather my dad's) and both my grand mothers. I even remember having a children cookbook around at one point.

This book is well made, with very attractive pictures, lots of tips, and a section that clearly shows it is a cookbook meant for children to cook as the picture above shows. Parents are to be in charge of the knives and stove, kids help with the prep time. It has step by step pictures with short and clear instructions that both kids and adult can follow together.

Another super strong point of that book is that it opens a child's horizon on food. You will find good old desi classics like poha, chutneys, tikka masala and paneer. But you will also find healthy continental fares such as pasta salad, pesto sticks, lamp hot pot, smoothies and pizzas completely made from scratch.
None of the recipe in this book has unhealthy over cooked, gooey looking food.

All dishes involve a riot of colour from vegetables to fruits, and everything is made from scratch. Be it the recipe to make yeast bread to the one to make chocolate truffles.
Ishita alread announced she was going to help me make a pizza today, and I myself found myself wanting to try all of the recipes...that is how exiting this book is.

That said, if you are vegetarian, you might not get as much out of this book as an omnivore would. This book is not going to offer you veg substitute, though most recipe can be adapted to your diet need.

If you want to get your children involved in the meal cooking process, this is where to start, and I highly recommend this book to get them interested.

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  1. I have Vikas Khanna's "Flavors First: An Indian Chef's Culinary Journey". It's very well written and the recipes are a bit of a fusion of new & old techniques. (I buy most of my books in the duty free area at airports.)
    My experience has been the same as yours with Indian cookbooks, they're mostly poorly written & the recipes just don't 'turn out' unless you do quite a bit of tweaking.
    I don't think Indians realize how many valuable skills can be learned by teaching children to cook by following a recipe. It's really a great science project- measuring ingredients, learning to do things in steps,learning what happens to substances when heated, chilled, mixed, kneaded, etc., learning how to get the same results by repeating an experiment/recipe. Children also learn the joy of making something they can be proud of (as well as eat) with their own hands.
    I'm compiling all my recipes on I'm not sure if I'm going to have them printed as a cookbook (for family members) or if I should start a cooking blog. Most of the recipes are Indian or somehow 'Indianized' but use time saving shortcuts to simplify preparation. I started writing & developing my own recipes when all I could find were poorly written Indian cookbooks & food blogs. Now my Indian nieces & nephews are begging me to teach them to cook. I don't know if I have enough material for a blog & most of my recipes are Kashmiri, Punjabi, Mughal, Keralan & Goan.

    1. There were other books by him in that coffee shop, all looked great. I will have to look into taste book, that sounds really good.
      I too have quite a list of recipes I tried and tweaked over the year. When I first arrived to India all there was was Tarla Dalal, and I still wonder how she got to sell so many books, none of her reciepe work. There are too many missed steps, missed ingredients and typos in those. And don't get me started about her attempt at writing about continental cuisine!

      I tried keeping a food blog for a while, I just don't have the time to keep it up along with this one, so it makes more sense to write food posts on this blog instead.


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