Exodus and this cup of tea: Chef Sandeep Pandit

By Sukant Deepak

New Delhi, April 28 (IANS): There is a special connection between his family’s exodus from Kashmir and his entry into the kitchen. When he moved from the valley to Bangalore in the face of growing threats to the Pandit community, things were grim and food was hard to come by. Chief Sandeep Pandit remembers his parents often working overtime.

“I clearly remember making a cup of tea for my mother when I was nine years old. She was silent and moved to tears. It was a very special moment in my life and I started to believe in the power of food to change moods and influence them. The kitchen has since become my happy place and I have never looked back,” recalls Pandit, a former MasterChef Australia contestant.

When Gary Mehigan tasted his “Lonster Smoked Masala” in one of the episodes, he said, “Angels are singing somewhere.”

Australian media dubbed him “The Spice Angel”, and now he has also launched “The Spice Angel” spice brand in India.

“My vision is to preserve traditional foods, dishes and cuisines around the world. Through this brand, we want to offer foods without chemicals or preservatives, based on traditional flavors or their inspirations.”

Emphasizing that the ability of food to influence one’s mood and feelings continues to fascinate him, he sees food as spiritual.

“I believe what you eat is what you become,” says Pandit, who studied chemical engineering and followed that up with an MBA.

Recalling his experience as a participant in MasterChef Australia, the chef says while on the one hand it was humbling, it also helped him become a household name in many parts of the world.

“I realized there was so much more I needed to learn about Indian and global cuisines. It also opened my eyes to the wonderful local and indigenous Australian produce. I was sharing the kitchen with some of the best chefs on the planet.”

Speaking about changing food trends and eating habits after the Covid-19 pandemic, the chef says more and more people have taken to cooking and many are now suddenly aware of what they are consuming.

“Having said that, I don’t think a large majority are moving towards healthy eating. With the majority of the world (myself included) working from home, managing a healthy lifestyle has become more difficult than it used to be. J ‘just hope we all get used to this idea of ​​hybrid work soon and change our eating habits accordingly.’

Emphasizing that chefs and the government can take several steps to make Kashmiri cuisine more popular, he believes that cooks should ensure that traditional foods and techniques (Kashmir and others) find a place in the food curriculum of different culinary schools. .

“I think many institutions are obsessed with anything French, continental or tandoori. The government should strive to get GI (geographical indication) labels for Kashmiri products like Kashmiri peppers,” says the chef, who hopes to launch a cloud kitchen and his own. restaurant in the near future.

Freeda S. Scott