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‘My book will have both old & new recipes’

Monday, July 10, 2017, 11:34 Hrs  [IST]

India’s youngest female chef and currently a judge on the food reality show – Femme Foodies, Chef Anahita Dhondy was fascinated by cooking and attempted it for the first time at the tender age of 10. Her mother has a big role to play in making her realise her passion for cooking food and to take it up professionally. Japanese and Oriental cuisine are among her favourites, but when it comes to cooking she prefers Indian cuisine. In an interaction with Kathryn B K, Chef Dhondy opens up about her love for food, being the youngest Indian female chef and writing a book.

First encounter with cookingg
Cooking runs in the genes of Chef Anahita Dhondy. She was exposed to cooking food and icing cakes at a very young age as her mother, who is also her inspiration used to make continental food, bake cakes and ice them. That is how she was introduced to cooking which she loved right from the beginning. “My mother actually saw it in me, my interest for cooking. She realised that it is not just my hobby but something that I wanted to take up professionally. Mother has not just been my inspiration but also my mentor,” says Chef Dhody.

It was at the age of 10 she attempted cooking for the first time and egg was the first ingredient of her first dish.

Aleti Paleti from SodaBottleOpenerWala

Being youngest female chef in India
Getting exposed to cooking during her childhood days was the biggest plus point for her. Chef Dhondy also gives credit to her institute – IHM Aurangabad, where she learnt a lot about various different cuisines. She interned during her college days and has worked with Taj and Marriott, where she gained a good amount of experience.

Dhondy realised she can handle the pressure in the kitchen at the age of 22 when she went to do her Masters Degree in Culinary in French cuisine. And when she turned 23, she helped conceptualise SodaBottleOpenerWala. “It was an extremely challenging job to handle a full-fledged kitchen. It was a big learning experience. We started with one outlet in Gurgaon and now we have eight. I have literally grown and learnt everyday and that’s what makes me who I am today with all my experiences put together,” said Dhondy about her experience working at SodaBottleOpenerWala.

Judge on a food show
Dhondy was one of the three judges on a food reality show named Femme Foodies which is currently aired on Living Foodz channel. The concept of the show made Chef Dhondy sign for it. “The cool quotient of the show for me was that, the 10 contestants were cooking on food truck, which was a new concept. You are also giving out a message that you don’t necessarily have to have a restaurant; you can have a food truck,” says Dhondy.

Egg Akoori by Chef Anahita DhondyAnahita’s

Writing a book
Currently Chef Dhondy is penning a book. She has been travelling all over India for it, collecting recipes, talking to many people (Parsis in particular), doing research etc. She says, “The book is a culinary effort. It has got some really old recipes which are ancient and not made anymore and I have also got some new ones. It is a good mix of old and new recipes. I think the book is something that is really required in today’s market where a person who wants to cook interesting Parsi food or even learn something about the Parsi community can refer the book.”

SodaBottleOpenerWala, Gurgaon

Advice for budding chefs
One advice that Chef Dhondy would like to give budding chefs is - don’t think that becoming a celebrity chef is the only thing that you want to do. She says, “There are lot of young chefs who are just 20 or 21, they come out of college and ask how do we become a celebrity chef. That is not the right approach. Learn your basics, be passionate and once you become a chef, once you know your skills, you have studied enough and worked enough then you can move on to becoming bigger.”

Anahita’s Bharuchi Paneer Akuri

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