How Chef Kunal Kapur Became Synonymous To Classic Indian Cooking

“A lot of people would consider cooking as a job that only women would do, but I found myself super comfortable in a kitchen. I actually enjoyed cooking,” says Chef Kunal Kapur, one of the most notable Indian chefs and restaurateurs, while sharing his journey with Slurrp. To be fair, Chef Kunal Kapur needs no introduction for the new generation of foodies in India today. When you think of learning the art and craft of Indian cooking via YouTube or Instagram, Chef Kunal Kapur is among the top names that will pop up on your screen. From traditional Indian delicacies to desserts, the chef has hundreds of videos on his channel, making it a go-to account to learn cooking.

Video Credit: Kunal Kapur/ YouTube

Even if you think you cannot boil water, you can locate easy-to-follow recipes on his YouTube channel that will make you fall in love with the process of creating a dish that satisfies your hunger. From pursuing Hotel Management from Dr Ambedkar Institute of Hotel Management Catering & Nutrition, Chandigarh, to judging and hosting MasterChef India, Chef Kunal Kapur is a household name today. Whether bachelors trying their hands at cooking or new brides striving to impress their in-laws, they all search for his quick recipes on YouTube.

Chef Kunal Kapur’s Journey: The Making Of India’s Favourite 

Born and brought up in New Delhi, Chef Kunal Kapur is a true-blue Punjabi man who grew up in a family of 12 members. “I remember very distinctively that we had a very big kitchen because there’s always food on the stove, something cooking inside, or something happening inside the kitchen,” the chef said while reminiscing his childhood.

“The rooms were small but the kitchen was big,” he said adding, “As a kid, I would sit on the countertop and my mother would give me kalchi (ladle), and I used to keep stirring whatever was being cooked.”

His father, uncle, and grandfather used to cook on Sundays for the entire family which broke the rigid construct of gender roles for Kapur. Seeing men in the kitchen, which is stereotypically considered a domain for women, made him confident to pursue a career in this industry.

He began to work with the Taj Group of Hotels in 2000, and one of the biggest achievements of his career has been hosting and judging MasterChef India. Chef Kapur added, “I think that was an incredible opportunity because the one-of-a-kind show helps you understand India better. There is India you see on TV and read in books, but there is India and its food.”

The chef feels that the best of Indian food is still trapped in the home kitchen, and the show helps to acquaint the world with it. “Seeing that side of creativity of contestants makes cooking less laborious and more fun,” he added.

He has also worked in innovative and research-driven shows like Curries of India and Thalis of India. Chef Kunal Kapur has done a lot of research on various kinds of biryani that are made across India. After television shows, when Chef Kunal Kapur was looking for what he wanted to do next, he thought of starting a YouTube channel that would give him creative freedom to post content of his choice. He said, “Digital (presence) is an extension of yourself, and it is a medium to connect with the masses.”

From YouTube to Facebook, Instagram, and other social media handles, the chef noticed that he was able to reach a larger audience, and people appreciated his efforts. “That’s always the cherry on the cake,” he added with pride.

One of the most cherished memories that Chef Kunal Kapur remembers is of a newlywed woman who for her chulha ceremony (the new bride cooks a sweet dish in the kitchen for the first time at her in-laws’ home) made halwa following his recipe on his YouTube channel. She told him that she tried one of his paneer recipes as well, and she managed to leave everyone impressed in her new home. “It was heartwarming to see someone who was scared of entering the kitchen and cooking for somebody was able to follow through my 5-minute video and managed to impress her new family,” he said with a hint of pride in his voice.

How Chef Kunal Kapur Pays Homage To Indian Cuisine 

Pincode is a restaurant chain started by Chef Kunal Kapur in 2023. He wanted to create a space where everyone can find a home. The restaurant chain is his way of paying homage to India and its flavourful cuisine. “The best of Indian food is found in the nukkad and galis (different lanes) in different parts of India,” he said while sharing the inspiration behind starting Pincode. 

For example, Delhi 6 represents Old Delhi and its Parathe Wali Gali, Chaat, etc. Through his extensive travelling across India, Chef Kunal Kapur has collected the best of dishes served at various pin codes in different cities and put them together in a menu. From North to South, he wanted customers to experience a wide variety of Indian flavours in one place. 

He not only shares his love for Indian cooking on YouTube channel but is also a believer that Indian grains have the potential to take over the world. In 2023, Chef Kunal Kapur gave the world a taste of millet-based creations, and he thinks that the grains are slowly penetrating deep into the Indian market and kitchens. 

Video Credit: Kunal Kapur/ YouTube

With popular FMCG Brands offering millet-based products and nutritionists and dieticians spreading awareness about the goodness of grains, the chef believes that people have also started to look for healthy alternatives. He added that many people might not know the English names of many grains, but they use it in traditional cooking. “I personally feel millets will get stronger this year.”

Chef Kunal Kapur is one of the most popular Indian celebrity chefs who has made cooking easy for everyone with his #Kunalish wisdom and knowledge of the Indian food landscape. He said, “There is no single entity that holds power over food, but it is a collective effort, where communities come together.” However, the experiences he has collected over the years while travelling and the knowledge he possesses of Indian cuisine have made a huge mark on the industry and in the hearts of his followers, foodies, and people cooking every day at home to serve delicious spreads for their families. Chef Kunal Kapur’s name is synonymous with Indian cuisine and cooking techniques.