Celebrity Chef Tara Deshpande On Food Trends And Her Favourite Recipe
Image Credit: facebook.com/TaraDeshpandeOfficial

Tara Deshpande is an MTV VJ, a Miss India finalist, writer and actress. She is the author of four published works - including ‘Fifty and Done’ (Harper Collins) and ‘An Indian Sense of Salad’ (Penguin). She collaborated with Adobe to write India’s first E-book, ‘The Motive’, in 2002. Her story, ‘India the New Junk Food Frontier’, was featured in the HarperCollins Anthology of Food in 2015. In 2003, Tara moved to Boston and started Azalea Catering LLC. She studied at the French Culinary Institute (now International Culinary Institute) in New York. She offered classes at culinary institutes and programs throughout the US, including the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York. Her cooking feature ‘Great Chocolate Cooking’ was aired on PBS. She does food history episodes for Tara’s Time Machine Cookbook. Tara is an avid collector of rare and antique cookbooks. 

Excerpts from an exclusive conversation:

What is your childhood memory of cooking?

My maternal grandmother tried to teach me to roll a chapati round, but mine ended up like a map of the former Soviet Union, and my paternal grandmother sat on the floor making dinkache laddoo.

Share some quick munchies to prepare for a movie night with family and friends

Bhadang, a classic Maharashtrian trail mix that's light and easy, crispy pakoras and chilli cheese toast.

What made you pursue cooking?

I come from a family of skilled home cooks, and my dad and granddad were inveterate travellers and bon vivant.

What is your biggest takeaway or lesson as a chef during the lockdown? 

Cooking is an invaluable skill. It is also a positive mental exercise in creativity.

Tell us about the journey, the roadblocks and the success

My dogs have taught me that you are already successful if you can enjoy the ride and not overthink the destination.

What is your favourite comfort recipe or food that you repeatedly cook?

Varan bhaat and vaangi che kaape.

The pandemic has profoundly impacted the F&B industry. How has it affected you personally?

Many events were cancelled. For months we were isolated; we couldn't work or socialise. But I had it easier than many people, and I am very grateful. I think all of us have learned to be thankful for small mercies. We have also known that we survived as the human race because we cooperate, adapt, and never give up. The f&b industry is a fraternity, and we must build back up together.

The pandemic also led to many food trends. Did you try and see any of them becoming prominent shortly?

I think the love for sourdough blossomed during the pandemic, and it is here to stay. So the average Indian family will now be baking a great deal more, which is just fantastic. 

Chef Tara Deshpande Prawn And Sesame Toasts Recipe By Godrej Vikhroli Cucina 

This is a wonderful appetizer when you're serving cocktails or when your main course is a light salad and soup. It can be made entirely vegan by omitting the prawns, and it tastes equally delicious.

For the sesame toasts

  • 250 grams potatoes steamed and peeled, then cooled
  • 5-6 slices of large white sandwich bread crusts removed (depending on the size you use, you may need an additional portion) 
  • 100 grams of small biryani prawns full cleaned, fully drained (optional)
  • 1.5 cups of white sesame seeds
  • 1.5 tsp of white vinegar
  • 2-3 small Indian green chillies very finely chopped and macerated with a teaspoon of kitchen salt
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves or parsley finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of cornflour
  • Soy oil for frying

For the drizzling sauce:

  • 2 tbsp Godrej sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon coriander leaves finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp lemon or lime zest
  • 1 tsp ginger root peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp golden honey


  1. Combine all the ingredients for the dipping sauce until well incorporated, and let rest. Taste for sweet and sour and adjust. You will need to stir this again before you serve it.
  2. Squeeze all the water from the diced prawns. Then blitz it once in a food processor until you have a coarse but mushy mix. Do not turn this into a paste.
  3. Peel and mash the potatoes only after they have reached room temperature. Add green chillies, vinegar and coriander leaves and mix. Add salt to taste. Finally, mix in prawns.
  4. Mix the cornflour with drinking water to make a thick, spreadable paste.
  5. Take each slice of bread and spread the potato prawn mash evenly over each piece. Then coat the mashed potato prawn tops with cornflour paste.
  6. Pour half the sesame seeds on a plate and pat the cornflour paste side into the sesame seeds to completely cover the paste. Repeat with all the slices of bread.
  7. Heat 2 inches of soy oil in a kadhai or skillet. When hot but not smoking, fry each slice until golden and crisp. Drain in a sieve over paper towels.
  8. Pat with clean paper towels to remove any excess oil. Slice into three strips each and then into squares if desired.
  9. Serve with the dipping sauce in a container with a cocktail spoon for drizzling.