Someone has rightly said that you can do anything if you have the passion, the drive, and the focus. From realizing his passion for cooking to judging the aspiring MasterChefs in two MasterChef India seasons, Chef Anirudh Sethi has come a long way. A chef with over 20 years of experience and a successful entrepreneur, Chef Anirudh never ignored his love for cooking and this is what made him one of the most popular chefs in India. 

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Founder of ‘The Mad Fat Chef Hospitality, Chef Anirudh Sethi has never failed to impress us with his amazing cooking skills. Currently working on lost and forgotten dishes of Indian cuisine, Chef Anirudh believes that Indian cuisine is very rich and diverse. “My absolute aim is to give a new shape to Indian cuisine so that people can know how beautiful it is”, added the chef. In an exclusive conversation with Slurrp, chef Anirudh Sethi got candid about his journey, his passion for cooking, his experience of judging in MasterChef India, and his future goals.  

How did you become a chef and what challenges did you face? 

It was basically an accident that I became a chef. Previously, I was working with my father in our family business till 2000. But after that, I skipped my family business, thanks to my love for cooking. My father used to scold me for spending too much time in the kitchen and cooking like ladies. But it was my passion to cook and do something new with the food. This is what dragged me into this field and made me a chef. Thinking of becoming a chef was a turning point in my life. I cooked rice when I was just 7 years old and my mother was shocked to see that this 7-year-old boy managed to cook rice, though kaccha-pakka.  

Talking about challenges, my father didn’t create any obstacles but hated when I used to cook. He used to say “kya tu aurton ki tarah kitchen main rehta hain”  and I used to say “I like to cook and I want to be a chef only”. The real obstacles were my seniors from the industry. Some of them didn’t want a young boy to become a chef. But after some time, they realized that this boy has potential and he can do better. They accepted me and now I consider myself a good chef.  

Who do you consider your inspiration? 

It could be none other than my mother as because of her, I realized what my passion is. My guru is my mother. I believe there is a mother behind every successful chef, be it Chef Vikas Khanna or Chef Ranveer Brar. They all give credit to their mothers and so do I. Even today, I ask my mother about a lot of things and I still learn. 

What is your forte? We have seen that your Instagram account is full of desi dishes. What made you love Indian cuisine so much? 

My forte is Indian curry and tandoor. Since I am in this industry for over 20 years now, I have gotten used to other cuisines as well like Lebanese, Chinese, Mexican, Thai, etc. But my absolute aim is to bring our Indian cuisine in a special form so that everybody can know about the beauty of Indian food. Especially, I am working on lost recipes and doing research on dishes that people don’t know about. From Phulkari pulao to chitt, there are many dishes, especially in Punjabi cuisine that people didn’t know existed. Indian cuisine is very rich and everyone must know about it. I have specialized to show people what Indian cuisine is. 

You have judged the aspiring chefs in two seasons of MasterChef India? How was your experience? 

Yes, I was one of the prelims judges in the 6th and 7th seasons of MasterChef India and it was a very good experience. MasterChef India has given a platform to a lot of people. While judging, it was our job to see if the participant is worth going forward for the final round. It was definitely a great experience and I got to learn a lot. There is every day of learning, whether it is a MasterChef or a kitchen. Not only the aspiring Masterchefs but we also get a platform to learn. 

What is your absolute comfort dish? 

It is none other than ‘Kadhi Chawal’. Let me tell you one thing. If I were given a choice to choose between Chappan bhog and kadhi chawal, I would choose kadhi chawal without thinking even for a second. My second favourite comfort dish after kadhi chawal would be ‘Sambar Chawal’. These two dishes are something I would like to have every day of my life. I am an absolute rice lover because I stayed in Kashmir for some years. In so many years, I have realized that I just can’t live without rice.  

What made you start the Mad Fat Chef Hospitality? 

This venture was also an accident in my life. Talking about the name ‘Mad Fat Chef Hospitality’, this name was given by one of my clients. When I offered him food, he liked it so much that he said “You Are A Mad Fat Chef’. That was the time I made up my mind that whenever I open my own company, I would name it so. Mad Fat Chef Hospitality is basically a consultancy firm where we consult people who want to open restaurants, hotels, etc. all over India. I have also opened a restaurant “Kebabs And Curries” in Bahrain and it is doing well! 

What’s next that we are going to see? Are you planning to open more such ventures? 

Definitely, you will see a lot coming. Currently, my six projects are going on in Delhi and out of Delhi also. This journey will not stop till I am alive. Rest depends on my destiny and especially on God, like what he has decided for me. He knows better than me. 

Which is the most special dish that you want people to know about and would you like to share a recipe of it? 

Though there are so many dishes, I would like to choose Phulkari Pulao. This is a very decent and very good dish. Phulkari Pulao has a very amazing history. It was made at the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Patiala. It is basically made with khoya and curd. When we sauté khoya and curd together, it splits and when we add rice to it, it attains some spots and that unique design resembles Phulkari. This pulao is garnished with dry fruits and pomegranate seeds. It is a sweet and salty dish and one doesn’t need anything with it. Here’s the recipe: 

Phulkari Pulao 

Ingredients 

  • 200 gm basmati rice  
  • 25 ml milk  
  • 25 gm khoya  
  • 75 gm curd  
  • 5 gm white pepper  
  • 75 gm ghee  
  • 15 gm almond slivers  
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 4 to 5 cardamoms 
  • 2 pieces of cinnamon  
  • Pinch of turmeric powder
  • 2 slit green chilies 
  • 20 gm sugar  
  • 900 ml water 
  • Salt to taste 

For Garnish 

  • 15 gm cashew 
  • 15 g pistachio  
  • 10 gm pomegranate seeds  

Method 

  • Heat a pan and add ghee.  
  • When the ghee gets hot, add bay leaf, cardamom, and cinnamon. 
  • Let the masalas leave their flavour in the ghee and then, add khoya. 
  • Quickly add some water so that the khoya doesn’t burn. 
  • After everything mixes together, add curd and mix well. 
  • Continuously stir the curd so that it doesn’t curdle. 
  • Mix everything together and keep mixing until it starts to boil. 
  • Then add salt to taste and mix well. 
  • Add milk and saffron. Mix again. 
  • Add sugar and give it a good stir.  
  • Add some cashews, almonds, pistachio, and raisins. 
  • Add a little turmeric powder and 2 slit green chilies. 
  • Then, add soaked rice and mix well. 
  • Add water and let it cook for 10 minutes. Cover the lid. 
  • Garnish with cashew and pomegranate seeds.