Shipra Khanna is a true example of success when persistence and passion comes together. Shipra loves cooking and turned it into her profession after she won Masterchef Season 2. She’s not just a celebrated chef today, but a call of hope and strength for all women who need motivation to follow their dreams. Follo chatted with this talented on-the-go chef and here's what she had to say…
You were named the culinary connoisseur for Tourism Australia. What has the experience been like?
Exciting! I traveled to Australia and explored cities, culture and, of course, the food. Not just Australia, I did the same with Switzerland, Britain and Singapore. I am working in the Mediterranean too. I’ll also be shooting a food show in Dubai called ‘Good Food’.
What place in the world, you think, is most open and progressive about food?
Well, New York and London are the world food hubs. The latest trend and food culture either originates or comes from there. But, I think times have changed and Indians have started accepting all kinds of food! Food connects people. No matter where I go, even if I don’t speak their language, I connect with them through spices and cooking. India has always been a huge market for food and I see different cuisines coming to India, which means the world is curious to tap the Indian market. I agree that the new cuisines are restricted to the cosmopolitans currently, but that 10 per cent is wholeheartedly embracing it. Japanese and Peruvian are two cuisines that are highly skilled and premium. But, it’s being accepted and enjoyed in India now!
For many conservatives, changing the authentic taste and style of cooking to appeal an audience is dreadful. What is your opinion?
When one cuisine is taken out of its geography and explored elsewhere, it has to change a bit. Not just outside, food in India is so different from one place to another! I’m penning a new book on regional Indian food and the more I dig deeper, the more there is to know. India is a continent in itself, not a country! Food in our country is so varied and I think that’s a beautiful thing. Here, there are very few cuisine specific restaurants. Most places offer a multi-cuisine menu. That’s because each family will have 5 different kinds of people. You might not see that in France, maybe.
What’s your comfort food, one that you turn to when you’re sad, bored or happy?
French fries! (laughs) I can eat them all the time. Even when I’m not hungry, I’ll munch on French fries. I love them!
From a timid housewife to a food star. How have you managed all the attention and change in your life?
(laughs) I was so shy during Mater Chef Season 2. You wouldn’t see me on camera at all. I’d come right in the end. There were people who were really confident with speaking on camera. But, I wasn’t. But, in real life I’m a talker! I can talk for hours. I remember my mother getting exasperated with how much I used to speak as a child. Plus, I love food and know about it. So, gradually, with my shows and interactions, I started opening up. My YouTube channel helped me with my fear for camera too. I’m still, though. But, I’m much more comfortable now.
You have your own food channel ‘Shipra’s Kitchen’ on YouTube. How has the digital flux been beneficial for food and its culture?
In terms of YouTube, I think the medium is slowly picking up in India. YouTube is an accessible medium for easy, quick recipes. Bachelors, singles, young couples or even students, it’s easy for them to search for quick recipes and make them. It’s also quick gratification.
How do you think Indian dishes can be made slightly healthier/lighter, especially for summer?
I think curd and lemon are two ingredients that we Indian can use to bring out flavor in our food, without making it too heavy. North Indians have a typical tomato and onion gravy that’s used for most sabzis (dishes). I think that can be substituted with curd and lemon. These two ingredients are good as dressings for steamed veggies, white meat or tofu, if you want to keep it healthy.
Tell us foods that good for summer and not too heavy on the waistline.
There’s a chilled cucumber soup that’s super refreshing and tasty to have in summers. There’s a Spanish cold soup called Gazpacho. This cold soup can be quite filling, especially if you add veggies in it, and it’s super tasty. Gazpacho can be had with multi-grain bread toasted in olive oil. Watermelon is great for summer. So, one can make watermelon and feta cheese salad.