Don your chef's hat: Michelin starrer Vikas Khanna sets the KhichdiChef competition in motion for Ola Foods
If you love the flavour of Khichdi, which is often called the ultimate comfort food, don’t miss the KhichdiChef contest that has been launched during the lockdown.
The KhichdiChef contest is a unique campaign started by Khichdi Experiment by Ola Foods in order to co-create Khichdi recipes with their customers by asking them to share their unique recipes of Khichdi through a special contest.
Celebrity chef, Vikas Khanna is collaborating with Ola Foods for the event and he began by giving a true representation of what is expected out of the contestants through his experimental recipe of the multi-grain Khichdi that he has shared online.
Ola Foods is the food business arm of the Ola Group, which aims at creating enriching, wholesome food experiences for consumers through its range of owned food brands and a large network of kitchens across the country.
The perfect lockdown meal
Khichdi is made of split green lentils and rice flavoured with Indian spices. It is usually eaten with a dollop of ghee and crisp poppadoms, and since it contains the perfect balance of ingredients, it is both healthy and delicious.
The combination of rice, lentils and ghee in Khichdi, brings carbohydrates, proteins, dietary fibre and Vitamin C to your plate. If you add vegetables, you can enhance its nutritional value greatly. A well-made Khichdi can improve your energy levels, immunity and digestion.
As it can be made with simple ingredients in a variety of ways, it was the perfect lockdown food over the last few months.
Anshul Khandelwal, Head of Marketing and Revenue, Ola Foods, who has also played an instrumental role in building Khichdi Experiment, talks about the contest and their association with chef Vikas Khanna in an exclusive interaction with YSWeekender....
Edited excerpts from the interview:
YSWeekender: Can you tell us about the KhichdiChef contest?
Anshul Khandelwal: The KhichdiChef contest was started to take forward the core proposition of experimentation with the recipes that the brand Khichdi Experiment resonates with.
The idea is to co-create unique Khichdi recipes with the customers and build that unique Khichdi “by the people for the people”. The contest has been live on the official Instagram handle of the brand where food enthusiasts are invited to share their recipes of Khichdi with a unique twist.
Having received a phenomenal response from the customers through hundreds of entries, the contest will culminate with the selection of the best recipe that will be featured on the menu of Khichdi Experiment. This will not only allow budding chefs and food enthusiasts to have their recipes featured as a part of our menu but also have their credits attached to the recipe.
YSW: Why did you choose to collaborate with Vikas Khanna?
AK: Our collaboration with Vikas Khanna is to ensure we have one of the topmost culinary experts who can not only spread the word about the campaign but also give a true representation of what is expected out of the contestants.
For example, through his experimental recipe of the multi-grain Khichdi, he has given a glimpse of how he was inspired by his mother to cook this dish and how the traditional Khichdi can be given a revamped look and texture with slight tweaking of the ingredients and using an innovative way to garnish the dish
He is not just a celebrity who is endorsing the contest but is also someone who is very close to Khichdi as a dish.
He had famously served Khichdi to PM Modi's guests when the former was hosting a dinner for some of the world’s biggest CEOs at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. Hence, we could not think of anyone else as a better inspiration for all when it comes to experimenting with Khichdi as a dish.
YSW: What was the multi-grain khichdi recipe that Vikas shared with you?
Instead of using the traditional mix of rice and pulses, Chef Vikas used red rice, black rice, white rice, millets and lentils to make a Multigrain Khichdi and garnished it with a Baked Potato Papad ring and rhubarb Pickle. The dish was also presented with a side of butter Pepper Mushrooms.
YSW: What is so special about khichdi and why did you choose this dish for the lockdown?
AK: We realised that during the lockdown everyone was not just hard-pressed for time but also had access to limited ingredients at home.
As a brand, we wanted to propagate healthy cooking at home and what better than cooking a wholesome pot of Khichdi that not only promises a flavourful meal but is also healthy and fulfilling and easy to cook. This is why we encouraged people to cook Khichdi by incorporating a unique twist in flavour and adding a new dimension to the dish.
YSW: What kind of responses have you got so far? Which has been the most innovative?
The response to the contest has been overwhelming with home chefs crafting their own khichdi with unique twists. From healthy quinoa khichdi to Chinese Manchurian khichdi to cheesy Italian flavours, foodies have found new and exciting ways to experiment with the dish. We are very impressed with the range of recipes that people have shared. We will have to wait until the end of the contest to announce the most innovative dish.
YSW: How many khichdi lovers have you got so far and what are some of the most unusual twists in the recipe?
AK: We have received a great response with close to 1000 entries of khichdi recipes so far. Some of these dishes have been very creative, unusual and definitely innovative. To give an idea of the variety, we have received recipes of Szechuan Khichdi, Khichdi Manchurian, Cheesy Italian Khichdi, Mexican Taco Khichdi, Khichdi Parathas, Khichdi Tokri Chaat to name a few. The inventiveness is definitely shining through.
YSW: What are the prizes and how long is this contest for and why did you aim to bring about by taking this up?
AK: The contest is open till the mid of June 2020. The winners can win prizes with up to 60 k along with vouchers and merchandise. The final winner of the contest will get a chance to have his recipe featured as a part of the menu of the brand along with his name credit given to the selected variant.
YSW: What is your most loved khichdi in your menu at the moment and what khichdi variations are you planning to bring in the future after the lockdown?
AK: Currently, we offer 20 variants of Khichdi which includes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options to cater to all.
While we have received great feedback on all our variants, some of the flavours that are rated highly across all the 6 cities that we operate in are Palak Paneer Khichdi, Tadke Wali Khichdi and the Lehsun and Hare Pyaz Khichdi.
We are currently working on other offerings that are inspired by International cuisines like the Cheesy Italian Khichdi and a Mexican Khichdi to name a few. We are also looking at introducing a healthier range like a Multigrain and a Quinoa Khichdi and plan to launch these shortly.