He works magic with his hands in the kitchen, whipping up gourmet delights to leave you stunned, both on and off the telly. Chef Ajay Chopra is a culinary force of nature, charting a lip-smacking journey with Shubh Vivah on Living Foodz. He whips up mean magic as he sojourns India to relish the best traditional food, sacred recipes, and lesser-known ingredients specific to weddings.
Celebrating with food
The show is in its third season, hinged on the ethos of celebrating Indian wedding traditions knitting families in togetherness. Food is the intrinsic soul of all Indian gatherings, especially moments of celebration. Says Chef Ajay, “I think Indian weddings involve food in a big way. Haldi functions happen before the wedding, paan ke patte is used for nazar, supari is dipped in haldi or kumkum. Rice and grains are used aplenty, both in rituals and giveaways. Indian weddings celebrate the concept of two families coming together.”
He further adds, “Shaping a lavish menu of Indian delicacies to be enjoyed collectively is the perfect way to cement this concept, and bring everyone even closer on the big day. Also, Indian weddings are colourful extravaganzas. I always believe that food is first eaten by the eyes. The hues and textures of Indian cuisine can be played up using natural ingredients and methods to add to the sensory spread.”
Prod him to share a leaf from his extensive travels, on the most polarised aspects of the food for Shubh Vivah and he replies, “If you look at a Punjabi or a Rajwada wedding, there is an array of dishes: they actually call it a chappan bhog or ekattis bhog, where there are up to 56 or 31 dishes on the menu. Then you also have the Bhils and the northeastern Assamese weddings where food is a simple affair with simple chicken curry with rice and roti. In some northeastern weddings, people simply enjoy delicious soups, thenthuk and hot tea.”
Ajay is quick to share three curious customs and traditions regarding traditional foods at weddings. “The post-wedding Punjabi tradition of the bridal couple pulling out rings from a bowl of milk was known to me earlier.
Shilpi Madan for Deccan Herald