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Food & Drink

Kitchen Confidential: Vikas Khanna

Debonair steps into the kitchen with the chef behind Michelin-starred Junoon, as he opens Kinara in Dubai

Follow the recipe patiently. Be creative when you’ve mastered the basics.

Chef and filmmaker Vikas Khanna, the man behind New York-based Michelin-star restaurant Junoon, has launched Kinara in Dubai.

Khanna has hosted several seasons of MasterChef India, Twist of Taste and National Geographic’s Mega Kitchens. He’s also been a guest on MasterChef Australia, Martha Stewart, Hell’s Kitchen, Beat Bobby Flay and many more shows.

A prolific writer, he’s published more than 25 cookbooks, including Flavors First, Khanna Sutra, My Great India and Savor Mumbai.

Kinara, meaning by the lake, offers a vibrant, modern exploration of traditional Indian cuisine. It opened at the JA The Resort’s JA Lake View Hotel recently.

Debonair steps into the kitchen with him.

Follow the recipe patiently. Be creative when you’ve mastered the basics.

What’s your earliest food memory?

I think it was sitting on my grandmother’s kitchen counter, telling her everything that happened at school while she cooked. And later helping her roll breads, shell peas or to make pickles.

How did you enter the industry?

I was about16 years old when I started hosting little banquets with my mother. It was just amazing to learn the tricks of the trade at an early age. Later I went on to graduate from WGSHA Manipal, India’s top cooking school.

Professional kitchens are renowned as stressful environments. How do you handle the pressure?

I had learnt the issue of stress in the profession from the very beginning. The key is to stay calm, focused and positive. You have to move fast in this trade; I think planning reduces the stress but it’s also important to stay in the moment.

How often do you cook outside the workplace?

Quite often. I cook for all my cookbooks at home, and that means nonstop recipe testing. Also, when I have family over in New York, I cook as much as I can.

What’s the best restaurant you’ve eaten at and what made it memorable?

So, so many. There is a restaurant in Surat, India, and it was the most emotional meal. The kitchen is run by women only, and there is no menu. Never in my life had I had cooking of that spiritual context and the service that made me emotional. 

Conversely, what would you never eat again?

Chilean Seabass. It’s an endangered species now.

Does a man who cooks win brownie points at home?

Of course, yes. 

What’s your top life hack for the layman in the kitchen?

Follow the recipe patiently. Be creative when you’ve mastered the basics.

Vikas Khanna with his mother and grandmother at Kinara.  

What’s your one indispensable kitchen implement?

Great knives are of great help.

What new trends are you seeing?

Comfort food. When the world is in disarray and people feel overwhelmed by modern stressors like terrorism, economical changes or even being constantly available on their phones, they turn to food for comfort.

Who would you invite to your ideal dinner table?

Meryl Streep and Philippe Petit. 

If you could choose your final meal, what would it be?

A simple meal back home in Amritsar.

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