This is continued from Serving Insights from a Chef’s Platter (Part-1)
Can you share a special experience from your kitchen?
Bawa: I prefer using the right vessel for cooking. One such vessel is Baumstal, which we got from France. It is made from a very special stainless steel alloy and perfectly distributes the heat throughout the vessel. This way, something that is at the bottom of the vessel and something that is at the top of the vessel are equally heated. Food is prepared in this vessel on a very low flame.
What I do is put veggies in the vessel; add basil, parsley, and olive oil; and leave it to cook. Meanwhile, I do my 20 minutes of meditation; and when I come back, I have my fantastic food ready. I think that's my most favorite time in the kitchen. Isn't it nice that the vessel does all the work and you get all the credit (laughs?
Has regular meditation enhanced the quality of the food you prepare?
Bawa: Yes, it has. Often, cooking the same thing brings monotony. Meditation comes in handy then. It makes me creative. Even though I have to cook the same thing time and again, my creative streak from meditation makes me add a different touch to my dish, which makes it totally different every time.
Do you think that a chef's state of mind affects the food he is cooking?
Bawa: A chef's state of mind definitely impacts the food he prepares, and that is why it is said the person who cooks should be happy. If he is angry, anger goes into the food, and anybody who eats it will become angry. This is because food is energy, and energy will catch energy—whether positive or negative. When we eat this food, our energy level becomes the same as that of the food. That is why food cooked by meditators is tastier than food cooked by non-meditators, because it makes us happy.
Is mindfulness essential during cooking?
Bawa: In cooking, you need a bird's eye view as well as a worm's eye view all the time. When you are cooking, you need to know what you have done, what you will do, and simultaneously focus on the present moment. In that way, mindfulness is definitely required while cooking.
Who has been your best teacher in kitchen: mom, recipe books, cooking classes, online videos, or meditation?
Bawa: Everything has helped me grow along the way. I usually follow the recipe for the first or second time. After that, I will modify it to my own taste. That's the way I cook.
In fact, I prefer teaching people how to cook. And there is a selfish reason to that (says with a grin). Once they have learned to cook like me, I don't have to worry about cooking it myself. The next time I want to eat the same dish, I just have to tell my chefs and it will be prepared (laughs.
How do you plan to take your taste to the world?
Bawa: I am currently writing a book of my favorite recipes, which will be published soon. I also intend to expand Cafe Vishala and make it a chain, internationally.
Would you like to share a few yummy tips with men who are beginners to cooking?
Bawa: You may visit my blog. It has more than 60 recipes from very basic to the most advanced. I am also writing a book on my favorite recipes, which you can refer to once it is published.
You can also make your cooking experience interesting by using the right vessel. For example, many people cook in aluminum. This is really bad for health. Prolonged use of aluminum can lead to various brain diseases. In our country especially, aluminum is used in many kitchens. These must be discarded. Don't even give these vessels to your servants. Instead, use cooking vessels made of cast iron, ceramic, stainless steel, or non-stick materials. Using the right type of vessel can really enhance flavors and make cooking an enjoyable experience. It can make what is usually drudgery, quick and efficient.
Interview taken by Ravisha Kathuria