- I interviewed “VahChef” Sanjay Thumma about his cooking show and the Foundation For Children In Need, a sponsorship program for students in India struggling to continue their education.
- You need to try these sweet and decadent Turkish Donuts In Honey that I made for PAPER/PLATES, inspired by Ian McDonald’s “The Dervish House.”
- Bad news for Nutella lovers. The kid’s reaction at the end of this video pretty much sums it up.
- Here’s why you never want to be called a “chocolate teapot” - a peek into the secret language of restaurant kitchens.
- I was convinced that Soylent was an elaborate hoax, but turns out it’s a very real thing. I imagine it’s like Ensure if Ensure had a menacing name and tasted like the color beige.
- And finally, don’t forget to check out my article and recipe for Masala Burgers in this month’s issue of The Cook’s Cook Magazine.
A stork rides the thermals in the early morning air above Istanbul during a heatwave. As the city “wakes with a shout,” the bird glides over a symphony of traffic jams, ship engines, air conditioners and gull cries. But this familiar song is broken with an explosion on a tram. Ian McDonald’s “The Dervish House” begins with a bang and we’re introduced to a kaleidoscope of characters whose stories contract and expand around an ancient dervish house…
I contributed to PAPER/PLATES this week with a recipe for Turkish Donuts In Honey Syrup inspired by one of my favorite books, “The Dervish House.” To read about this novel and to learn how to make these syrupy donuts (which are a street food known as “lokma”), click HERE!
I’m gobsmacked. Not only have I always wanted to use that word in a sentence, I’m also shocked that it took me this long to actually feature a chip recipe. My blog is called DELICIOUS CHIP. Come on, now! This simple guide to making perfect, crispy, delicious potato chips is also a small celebration of my new, hipper site banner. So without further ado, here’s how you can make your own delicious chips:
- The thinner the chip, the crispier it will be! Start by slicing your potatoes with a mandolin slicer. (A food processor with a slicing attachment also works well, though the thickness may not be adjustable.)
- Once your potatoes are sliced, soak them in cold water for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
- Heat vegetable oil to 375 degrees. I highly recommend using a thermometer or a deep fryer that has a temperature gauge and basket. This is for safety and will prevent your oil from getting too hot.
- Carefully fry your chips in small batches until golden brown and crisp. This should take between 3-5 minutes. Once ready, drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
It’s that easy! I like to top my chips with seasoned salt. I also like to dip my chips in ketchup. And here’s a good chip idea: Grub in Hollywood makes chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with crushed potato chips. Salty and sweet - sounds amazing, right?
Chef Sanjay Thumma, also known as the “VahChef,” has a genuine enthusiasm for the food he cooks and a positive attitude that’s led to him having one of the most popular cooking channels on YouTube with over 100 million views. When he’s not whipping up easy-to-follow traditional Indian dishes, he also shows us how to create healthy alternatives as part of the AAPI’s “Be Fit, Be Cool” campaign which raises childhood obesity awareness.
But it’s not just food that the VahChef is passionate about. Sanjay has been involved with the Foundation For Children In Need for the past 12 years. Founded by Dr. Geetha Yeruva and Tom Chitta, the foundation provides a sponsorship program for children and college students struggling to continue their education in India. The foundation also provides health care and medicine to people living in rural villages, as well as care for the elderly.
With his involvement with the Foundation For Children In Need and “Be Fit, Be Cool,” he’s truly cooking for positive change. Sanjay is my absolute favorite chef to watch on YouTube and I was excited to speak to him last week about both the foundation and his love for cooking.
How did you become involved with the Foundation For Children In Need?
Dr. Geetha and Tom were very old friends. They used to come to my restaurant and discuss ways to help children. In many organizations, the amount of money going to a child is a lot less than what is given because of adminstrative costs and what not. So they wanted to start a foundation where the child would benefit more from what is being given. I really liked what they were doing.
At first I just used to provide free food for their meetings, but when I came back to India and visited the schools, I saw the happiness of the children there. These children would have to struggle to come to school, and at the foundation they would be taught how important education is. I make yearly visits and I’m a soldier for them to raise funds and get sponsors for these children. You get so much happiness from being generous. I myself sponsor over 20 children. I get more excited by this than when people make my food!
Your YouTube channel is one of the most popular cooking channels in the world. What do you think the future holds for the VahRehVah TV show and YouTube channel?
When I first started, I wanted to do everything my way. I wanted to be in control of my show. But many channels wanted to control and do things their way. I agreed to do my show for a local TV channel that broadcasts in Telugu. After the first week we aired we got the highest ratings the channel had ever had in 7 years. I actually wanted to make changes, but the producers said no.
If the formula works!
Yes! I wanted to make it more exciting, but they said, “Don’t change a thing!”
Have you thought about doing a travel show? I think your audience would love to see you sampling street food or trying out other local cuisines.
I would love to do a road show. But these things can be so expensive to make. It’s possible to make money on YouTube, though. The thing is, so many shows out there do the same old recipes. I call it “burger cooking.” Many people want to open 2 or 3 packets and be finished. I want to do something different. I want to do authentic recipes. So we’ll see.
I’d definitely watch your road show! My last question: What is your favorite dish to make at home?
I’m Hyderabadi, so I love to make biryani at home. But I cook everyday for my show. So when people ask me what my favorite dish is, I tell them it’s the food in my pan. It’s whatever I’m going to eat next. It’s hot, it’s fresh and it’s sizzling.
I recently binge-watched Season 2 of PBS’ drool-worthy Mind Of A Chef. During the first half of the season, Chef Sean Brock shares the bounty of southern cooking. He shows us BBQ in the rain, he parades West African gumbo in our faces, he whips up chestnut bread and frog legs. He makes simple coarse grits with butter, and he also makes a dish of sautéed vegetables over broken rice.
I thought it would be delicious to combine the latter two. Grits are one of my favorite things to eat, and I thought fresh vegetables sautéed in butter would go well with them. I’m not sure if this is an actual dish people make or if I’m offending any southern sensibilities, but this turned out really delicious! Hey, if it tastes good, it tastes good.
You will need (for 1 serving):
- 1 cup grits, cooked
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup chopped onions
- 1/4 cup chopped tomato
- 1/2 cup chopped squash
- 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
- salt to taste
Once you’ve chopped your vegetables, time out your grit preparation so that the grits will be hot and ready once the vegetables are done. The vegetables will take just under 10 minutes.
In a small skillet, melt 1 tbsp of butter over medium heat. Once it starts to foam, add the onions with a dash of salt and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes. I like to smash the tomatoes a bit with a spoon to get the juices out.
Throw in the squash, cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the squash is tender. Add the bell peppers and cook just until soft.
Spoon your grits onto a plate and pour your vegetables on top. Finish with a gratuitous tablespoon of butter.
He brought us his own version of Gordon Ramsay’s Scrambled Eggs, and now Sheldon is back with his goopy, gooey, sweet & salty, crunchy, crazy good version of Elvis’ Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwiches.
What tips this sandwich over the edge of awesome? Well, apart from the peanut butter and banana, apart from the sweet honey, apart from the way it oozes out of the bread in a mildly pornographic manner, it’s this - butter. It’s fried in butter. Like a perfect grilled cheese sandwich, only sweeter.
For 2 sandwiches, you will need:
- 1 banana (The more ripe, the better! A banana with spots is A-OK!)
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 tbsp honey
- 4 small pieces of white bread
- 2 tbsp butter
First mash the banana, peanut butter and honey together in a bowl.
Melt the butter in a large shallow pan or griddle.
Divide the mixture in two and sandwich in the bread. Fry in the butter until golden brown, flipping once or twice until your preferred level of crispiness has been achieved.
Eat it while it’s hot. Eat it as a snack. Or try it for breakfast - it goes great with eggs, turns out.
Thank you, Sheldon. And thank you, Elvis. Thank you very much.