Indian recipes with a global twist: MasterChef India food producer and founder of Your Food Lab on experimenting with ingredients
This year, lots of people across the globe turned to their kitchens to recreate restaurant-style food at home. For others, it turned out to be an in-house therapy.
While it was the year of Dalgona coffee and banana bread, everyone will agree that the general theme across kitchens was experimental food. Indian Chef and content creator Sanjyot Keer says, “Trends come and go but I love how people took this opportunity to learn and grow.”
After being a Food Producer for MasterChef India, Sanjyot started his own venture Your Food Lab (YFL) in 2016 as a food ideation and experimental space. The Mumbai-based venture features a collection of recipes that are ‘healthy, cheesy and spicy’.
Think Dosa-pizza, desi Shakshuka, or Vada Pav Tacos, Chef Sanjyot’s recipes mix the eastern and western and range from being fun and messy to fresh and bright.
YFL started as a Facebook page and now has 4.8 million followers, and its YouTube channel and Instagram page have 1.79 million and 1.5 million followers respectively. He was also featured in the list of Forbes India's Tycoons of Tomorrow, 2018. In a recent conversation with YS Weekender, Chef Sanjyot takes us behind the scenes of YFL.
Sanjyot’s first memory of food goes back to the streets of Mumbai. Having always been inspired by his parents and grandmother’s recipe, when Sanjyot passed by a food stall, he was captivated by Pav Bhaji.
“There was this one guy who made the best food. I would just stand there the whole time and watch him do magic,” Sanjyot tells YS Weekender.
At the age of 12 Sanjyot went back home and told his mother that he wanted to try his hands at Pav Bhaji. Thus, he cooked his first meal.
“My family had a smile on their faces and it gave me immense joy. Ever since then, I started experimenting with food and I have never stopped,” he adds.
YFL’s first recipe was, obviously, inspired by this very memorable Pav Bhaji. As a first trial, Sanjyot cooked Pav Bhaji Bruschetta, but the video did not make it to the channel.
“To be honest, I didn’t start YFL by inspiration. Rather, I decided to start it one day when I was feeling low,” he says.
Sanjyot reveals that despite being a food producer on MasterChef India, the University topper had to join his family business to swim through the financial crises. However, he did return to his passion every weekend, experimenting with ingredients in the kitchen.
When his third video got 1.7 million views, Sanjyot decided that he would “go ahead with food” in life and career.
Sanjyot brings his tech, videography, photography, and cooking skills together to bind his passion for food with digital content creation. Being in this profession for over four years, he says that one has to grow and evolve every day to thrive in the industry.
“Our secret ingredient is time, no rules, consistency, and passion,” Sanjyot says.
He enjoys cooking Indian cuisine the most.
“I feel there is so much to learn and discover. Every 50 kilometers in the country we are introduced to newer delicacies,” he adds.
With strong ties to Indian street food, Sanjyot considers himself an expert in the subject. Admitting that he experiments the most with Indian street food, he says,“I love trying fusion cuisines but also try to keep the essence alive while doing so.”
Food trends in 2021 and beyond
While 2020 saw a lot of people trying to experiment and turn into chefs, people also got a lot more conscious about what is served on the table. Sanjyot feels that food trends like Veganism and sustainable cooking are going to gain popularity in the coming months.
While concepts like home-light and farm-to-table have recently gained traction, traditional recipes like haldi or turmeric milk and desi-ghee are booming even in foreign lands.
“We always turn towards oats and quinoa but we have a lot of other ingredients in India, which are way more healthier and easily available,” he adds.
Chef Sanjyot says every aspiring chef should — believe in themselves, try different cuisines, and to always try to love what one eats.
“That is how you will sharpen your knife and make your way in knowing the different flavours,” Sanjyot says.
After trying his hands on all cuisines, Sanjyot believes he is yet to master the Pan-Asian cuisine, especially dimsums. He plans to soon intern with a veteran Pan-Asian chef for a year to do so.
He also plans to start traveling again, cooking, and documenting more content for YFL.
By next year, Sanjyot wants to launch YFL on platforms beyond social media. He plans on producing food and travel related series on an OTT platform. Additionally, he aims to work on launching Your Food Lab University Academy, an institution to teach cooking.
He reveals, “Our website and application is underway for people to get direct access to our recipes and content.”
Chef Sanjyot Keer’s special recipe for YS Weekender readers:
Biryani in a Mug
• Quick makhani sauce along with dahi marination and biryani spices
• Put in your vegetables along with cooked paneer or chicken
• Layer it up with cooked rice in a mug or wine glass
• Microwave for 2-3 minutes
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta