A Journey for Food

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For 28-year-old Saransh Goila, food is life. From winning the Food Maha Challenge in 2011 to going on the longest road journey by a chef, he has made it his mission to promote regional Indian cuisine. Having recently visited Dubai to launch ‘India on my Platter’, his book that narrates his food journey,
Sharon Carvalho caught up with the young chef

When did food become such an integral part of your life?
I belong to a family that makes timetables for what will be cooked in a particular week so there are no repeats with the vegetables made. I picked up cooking from this passion for food when I was barely a teenager. My first stint with cooking was at my uncle’s wedding when all the women had mehendi on their hands. It was 2 am and everyone, including me, was very hungry. I couldn’t bear the fact that people around me were hungry, so, I snuck into the kitchen and my uncle followed me. I opened the fridge, grabbed some leftover dough and boiled potatoes, which were boiled for breakfast. I quickly added some coriander, ginger, chilli powder, amchoor and salt to the potatoes and before we knew it, we had rolled out 20 paranthas. My uncle was shocked that I knew what spices to add, how to make them and where everything was placed in the kitchen. It not only surprised my parents but a lot of relatives too.

What was your favourite part about putting the book together?
The fact that it gave me an opportunity to relive what I had experienced on the streets of India and a lot of time to value what I’d learnt from my travels. To pick and choose memories to cherish while sipping on tea and writing has to be my favourite part about putting this book together!

Who are your role models?
There are many but the two people who’ve made a profound impact on my life are: – My grandfather, who taught me to follow my heart and discover who I really am as a person.

– Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, who is the inspiration behind all the cooking.

If you were to host an Iftar, what would you cook?
I’d like to include popular Iftar meats and dishes on the menu but with my own style. For starters, I would do a Keema Tikki Chaat and an Eggs Ghotala, which are eggs made three ways in pav bhaji masala. For mains, I would cook the traditional Haleem and Biryani rice. For dessert, I would do a date and coffee pudding with coconut ice cream.

Where would you like to see yourself five years from now?
That’s always a tough question to answer. This year I’m starting my first venture called ‘Goila Butter Chicken’ which will be all about serving my signature version of the popular Indian dish. The aim is to make it global and I’d like to see this venture expanded to Dubai, London and New York in five years.

I heard that you were an overweight kid and you’re now in the food business. That seems like a recipe for disaster. What was that journey like?
The amount I ate and cooked was just magical. The amount I are at weddings was so popular that people would wait for me to arrive and put on a demo they called ‘#HowToEatAtWeddings’. I did weigh 93 kilos and I honestly thought that was the reason I got shortlisted for a chef course! While I was in college, I realized that grooming myself, as a chef, was very important for this decade. I started running and going to the gym regularly. My grooming professor, Mr. Miranda, told me, “Saransh, not all chefs have to have a pot belly, why can’t we try and change that?” His words inspired me and after three years of sweat shedding, body breaking runs I lost 28 kilos!

What’s the story behind the jalebis?
I used to maintain a recipe book as a child of all the recipes that I would learn from Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s Khana Khazana. I would run home as fast as I could from the bus stop to try to catch the afternoon show. I would only make it for the last segment and that was usually only desserts. The first dessert I learnt from that show was the jalebi and I wouldn’t leave my mother alone till she helped me make the batter. I was 12. She got me a Maggi squeeze bottle to fill the batter in and pipe out my own fresh jalebis. To her surprise and mine – they came out perfect.

What do you spend your money on, personally, that is?
I spend a lot of my money on movies and investing in gadgets to make my movie watching experience better. Whether it is a projector, a recliner or crisp audio system – that’s usually where my credit card gets swiped. Also, a major chunk is dedicated to travel. Travel is my best investment.

Five celebrities you would like to host for dinner?
Tom Cruise
Sachin Tendulkar
Jamie Oliver
Jennifer Lawrence
Deepika Padukone