Aditya Bal, an actor-turned-chef started his culinary career two-and-a-half years ago and is largely self-taught. During this period, he trained at an Italian restaurant, a Mediterranean restaurant and a Goan restaurant as well. He enjoys adventure travel and loves to try all the street foods and hidden food treasures of our country.
He goes to the streets, visits homes and markets to discover old cooking techniques. He has anchored the popular 'Chakh Le India' series on NDTV Good Times where he travels around the country, eats the finest foods and then tries the recipes in his kitchen. Currently, Aditya is anchoring a brand new food show called 'Chakh Le Academy’ on NDTV Good Times and ‘The Lost Recipes’.
Tell us something about the growth of Indian food industry in last five years?
Indian food industry is growing at 20 per cent year on year but the large size is still unorganised captured by the road side vendors, small outlets and street vendors and home- grown enterprises as well. However, with global cuisines coming to India and the Internet, the Indian cuisine is taking on a new dimension, there is more scope for people to do what they love doing. The concept in terms of food deliveries is growing; you can see food trucks coming, many food tech players and food-apps that have entered the segment. Thus, food in India is growing and what is making it more exciting is that people are repackaging their food, which itself is a sign of growth.
What is your view on growth of local foods in India?
MasterChefs opened a way to those passionate about foods; it is more than just eating. The local regional flavours are brought into the cooking. We all know that we have passion for foods, we love eating food but now there is a channel for it. With brands coming in that provide world-class experience, the Indian brands now have to go beyond the traditional cuisine. I myself am doing a show on ‘Lost recipes of India’. Thus, people need to educate one another about the foods they eat. Teach each other also about the food history and we can also make a culture of chef cooking in India as it is in Australia.
I think Indian food is not that promoted. What is your comment?
We need to promote food. Also, we need to make Indian food easy to cook and within reach. The communities need to promote foods; governments need to see food as a business model. And above all, make it easier to reach as Indians foods are hard to take on the go.
What are some of the ingredients that you keep along with you while cooking?
I keep olive oil, mustard oil, dry red chillies of all kinds, garlic, lots of spices, herbs and chillies I love, pasta, potato toes. I love to create simple ingredients and flavours and I create all flavours myself.
Do you believe in using locally sourced ingredients or gourmet products?
I use a mixture of local and gourmet ingredients. But if the local ingredients are available easily, my preference would be cooking in it. However, I try and use organic ingredients in my cooking; I grow them and use them in my cooking.
You are an actor turned chef. What made you quit your job?
I was not happy with what I was doing. I entered the kitchen one fine day, enjoyed cooking and then cooked for another three months, quit my job as an actor and then worked in a restaurant for four years dishwashing and working as a waiter. Cooking makes me happy. I do it for pleasure, for keeping others happy who eat and love my cuisine.