Meet India’s ‘Most Admired’ Chef

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It is said that if Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is known for his elegant style in dishing out culinary tips on cookery shows, then Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi is known for his exuberance and signature wardrobe. But that observation apart, it is Harpal Singh Sokhi’s fusion of Indian food that has made him a force to reckon with in the food industry. In the kitchen, Sokhi is known to pair Indian ingredients in international cuisine and credited for dishes such as Kiwi Panha, Rasmalai Black Forest and Ginger and Orange Kulfi.

A graduate from the catering school at Bhubaneshwar, he spent his initial years in learning different international cuisines, but later realized his interest lay in unearthing the authentic regional Indian food. Pursuing this goal he mastered the art of Indian food and created a niche for himself by learning authentic Hyderabadi food under Ustad Habib Pasha. Begum Mumtaz Khan, an authority in Hyderabadi cuisine, further helped him in enhancing his knowledge.

This vivacious chef is able to converse in five languages – Punjabi, Bengali, Oriya, Telegu and Hindi. In 2012, he received the title of ‘Most Admired Chef’ on television by Golden Star Hospitality Awards. “I am passionate about everyday ingredients and cooking appliances. Cooking should be fun and quick but with delicious results,” says Sokhi.

His quest for knowledge led to his research on the link between Ayurveda and food, where he can be easily credited for creating Ayurveda cuisines. Chef Sokhi strongly believes that today people are very health conscious and India cannot have a better blend of food and health if the elements and belief in Ayurveda is missing. Therefore, he has brought back the traditional use of ancient Indian herbs and unique vegetables in his cooking. Some of the unique dishes in this genre are – Drumstick Flower Pakodas, Red Pumpkin Flower Pakodas, Red Pumpkin Salad, to name a few.

Sokhi’s famous quote ‘namak shamak, namak shamak, daal dete hain’ as a host of the most popular culinary show Turban Tadka on FoodFood channel on Indian television, has won him the title of “Energy Chef of India” where his infectious energy has made people charged-up and passionate about cooking.

He has worked with Indian restaurants such as Vintage – a Hyderabadi speciality restaurant, an Indian specialty restaurant in Luxembourg and Indian five star properties like Centaur Hotel-Juhu beach, The Oberoi – Bhubaneshwar, Hotel Tuli International – Vidarbha and The Regent – Mumbai. But his turning point came when at the Regent Mumbai he had the opportunities to develop the concepts for the restaurants.

Some of Sokhi’s signature dishes are the Lalla Mussa Dal which has earned him a letter of appreciation from the Australian High Commission praising the quality of the food cooked by him as the best in the country. The taste of this particular dish was given a verdict of being better than its counterpart dish Dal Bhukara. One of his notable achievements includes his research on some of the lost Indian recipes such as the famous Lambhh Roti, a traditional stretched bread known to be made by a handful of ladies only in Nagpur.

In 1993, he hosted the first ever episode of the program Khana Khazana on ZEE TV.

He has designed menus for all outlets except Chinese at the Regent in Mumbai and conceptualized and executed the opening of Khazana, an Indian specialty restaurant in Dubai. Khazana went on to win the ‘best new entry restaurants award’ in Dubai in 1998.

Sokhi also conducted the most successful Ancient Indian Food Promotion for Indian Airlines. He also headed a team for creating diabetic friendly Indian desserts and conceptualizing new range of chocolate sweets for FMCG companies. He developed recipes for oncology and nephrology patients for Wockhardt Hospital, Delhi.

Currently, Sokhi is part of taste temptation theatre culinary workshop along with Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, a show that also has other celebrity Chefs like Chef Leslie Waters, Chef Anthony Warrel Thomson. Other works include researching Indian Food and Consumer habits and formulating opening plans for Contemporary Fusion restaurants.

Chef Sokhi’s vision and greatest desire is to popularize the know-how of traditional Indian recipes and concept designing for restaurants in international cookery schools, across the globe.

(TIW)

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