VOICES ANIRBAN GANGULY ANAND NEELAKANTAN VS RAVI RAVI SHANKAR NEIL MCCALLUM MATA AMRITANANDAMAYI THE NEW SUNDAY EXPRESS BUFFET MAGAZINE PEOPLE WELLNESS BOOKS FOOD ART & CULTURE ENTERTAINMENT JUNE 21 2020 SUNDAY PAGES 12 Kitchen Kids Children are turning into chefs, hoping to make it big in the commercial space. The lockdown has brought families and hobbies together. The orders keep coming. S By MEDHA DUTTA YADAV ancharita Ghosh remembers her chef moment. She was six years old and frolicking in the kitchen pretending to be a chef. The family cook had just added the finishing touches to a large pot of bubbling dal and preparing to remove the heavy brass vessel from the stove. Sancharita slipped and fell on the cook. The dal spilled and Sancharita’s foot was scalded. Prompt medical care and loads of chocolates and ice creams later, she was banned from the kitchen. She was allowed in only to fetch a glass of water or dump her dirty plate in the sink. Years later when she finally set off to study abroad, all she knew was to make Maggi and coffee. Then there is Chef Kicha aka Nihal Raj, from Kochi. He is a YouTube sensation with thousands of subscribers. Four years ago at the same age Sancharita was, he became one of the youngest guests ever on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. The host was thoroughly floored by Kicha’s description of traditional Kerala breakfast, puttu, rendered in a broad Malayali accent. He breaks out laughing about Ellen struggling with the pronunciation of puttu. Best leave the cooking to the pro, many believe. But amateur cooks have been acing Instagram and Pinterest over the last couple of months. Their age group is getting smaller with children between 10 and 13 going pro with élan. The recent lockdown, social-distancing norms and the new normal of work-from-home have driven parents to their wits’ end. All outdoor activities such as play sessions in parks with friends, schools and creche services have been suspended. There were only many books to read. Hence children in the kitchen have become small versions of Gordon Ramsays and Vikas Khannas at home. Now most of Vaibhavi Mehrotra, 13 Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh W eekends at the Mehrotra family home were all about experimenting with food. When she was nine, Vaibhavi became her mother’s assistant in the kitchen. Enamoured with baking, she has learnt the hard way the importance of measuring out the ingredients, nor to forget to go by the book. “If you want a nice and moist cake then you need to measure the ingredients correctly because their proportions in the recipe will change if you don’t,” she observes. “Just last week, I tried to make doughnut chips which are basically flattened crispy doughnuts but I thought that if I don’t add yeast, I would still get a nice crispy doughnut. It turned out crispy but was kind of gooey inside,” she recounts a recent culinary failure. The lockdown period found this young baker turning out cakes for her relatives, neighbours and friends. Vaibhavi dreams of becoming a pastry chef and has represented her school at cooking competitions. She admits to being a chocolate fan. “My favourite comfort food is a chocolate cake with a nice smooth and silky chocolate ganache. I can eat it every day anytime,” she says. COOKING MOTTO Chocolate makes every sweet treat even better ONE STEP AT A TIME Wants to start a home bakery and then a cafe HER IDOL Buddy Valastro, owner of Carlo’s Bakery, NY, US YOUTUBE Vaibhavi’s bake diaries them are raring to go and planning to start their own commercial food businesses— albeit on a small scale. Coding engineer Ruchira Somesh from Bengaluru, says, “I’ve two small kids—one six and the other nine. In the initial days of the lockdown, they were irritated and fought a lot. The house was a chaos zone. Both my husband and I worked from home. I went online to find how best to manage kids in this situation. Letting them into the kitchen, which had been out-of-bounds till now, was a solution.” The parents were in for a surprise. Not only did the kids enjoy the cookery lessons, they became more responsible. “Now they help out at mealtime. There is more camaraderie between them. I give them easy-to-follow recipes and often download YouTube cookery videos but make it a point to be around when they cook. They do all the measuring and mixing, and operate the oven, but I haven’t allowed them to handle knives and stoves yet,” says Ruchira. Being more tech-savvy than adults, most budding little chefs know how to get maximum hits online through Instagram accounts and YouTube channels, but moderated by parents. Some of them have showcased their Turn to page 2 Sunidhi Mehta, 10 Pune, Maharashtra W hen she was just four, Sunidhi would look on with wonder as her aunt baked batches of mouth-watering brownies. Soon she started assisting the aunt. Happy to indulge and encourage his daughter’s love for baking, her father got her a recipe book on cakes. And a chef was born. “I would love to own a cake and coffee store someday I just want to make all kinds of . beautiful cakes which make people smile and their bellies happy,” she giggles. A cook book aficionado, last summer Sunidhi recreated one recipe every day from Chef Shivesh Bhatia’s book. Since she is fond of baking and sweets, her choice ingredients are brown sugar and cinnamon. “While brown sugar adds a beautiful delicate caramel note to desserts, cinnamon enhances the flavour, especially in cakes,” she quips like a pro. Sunidhi doesn’t give up in the face of failure. “Macaroons must be crisp outside and soft inside. Mine turned out to be so crisp that I never managed to get to the inside! But I’m determined to try again and again until I get it perfect,” she says confidently . FAVOURITE COMFORT FOOD Paanipuri NOT ON HER PLATE Vegetables IDOL Shivesh Bhatia INSTAGRAM @sunidhicooks
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