In Focus is a series of food conversations from Indian Influence that focus on fascinating people who love exploring global food through an Indian lens.
An accomplished entrepreneur, Rattan, (A.K.A. sapphire in Punjabi), merges a passion for healthy food and youth business mentoring. As a true gem, Rattan is the perfect person for the first In Focus interview. He is generous beyond belief and a clandestine food lover. He has been known to send me healthy food care packages when he launches a new product, like pumpkin seed granola or senses I need a pick-me-up (he’s a real sweetheart).
During our food conversation, he was adamant to let me know – he only cooks on occasion, and didn’t want to appear dishonest to my readers. His forthrightness is what I like about him best. Because in my books that is the makings for excellent character.
Within Rattan’s answers, it is implicit he is a vegetarian and has a love hate relationship with onions. And even more so – a food seeker within his global travels. Oh and he is borderline obsessive about pancakes. Who would have guessed that?
To accompany his answers, Rattan hand selected six songs he’s been listening to while eating, cooking, or lounging.
Here’s our conversation…
Q: Tell us a little about you.
A: I am very passionate about two things in my life: providing healthy, nutritious food and educating youth about entrepreneurship and leadership. I spend as much time, as possible, fulfilling these passions.
Q: In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
A: My job is to bridge the gap between perception and accessibility of organic and healthy foods to the average consumer.
Q: Who taught you to cook? Who inspired you to be in the kitchen?
A: Definitely, my mom and my uncle Mukesh taught me how to cook. As a regular in the kitchen, my father is also an inspiration within cooking and many other aspects of my life.
Q: What inspires you about the world of food?
A: With cuisine, you can travel the whole world through your taste buds.
Q: What is your cooking style?
A: Good quality ingredients. Simple execution.
Q: Do you have any vivid or memorable food experiences that have impacted you?
A: Last month when I was in Barcelona, Spain, I came across a food lover’s heaven: the market of La Boquiera. Seeing the variety of fresh and exotic foods was an absolute treat. Best of all, I was able to find this amazing blend of vegetarian Catalan/Indian/Mediterranean cuisine.
Q: What is your favorite South Asian cooking ingredient, and why?
A: Turmeric is a favourite cooking ingredient, as it contributes to every Indian dish and is filled with numerous health benefits.
Q: What would you say is your favorite meal to cook?
Q: Be honest, do you clean up and do the dishes after cooking?
Q: Worst kitchen injury?
A: I might have cried once or twice… while cutting onions.
Q: Can you share with us your favorite cookbook?
A: My mom is my biggest resource when it comes to cooking, but when she’s not around, I rely on the Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon.
Q: What’s your drink?
A: Coconut Water
Q: If you could eat a meal with one person, dead or alive, real or imagined, who would it be?
A: Aga Khan
Q: You’ve got friends visiting – what are you making or eating?
Q: Is there an ingredient you think is overused?
Q: Is there a particular dish you crave?
A: Good Dal Makhani or Shahi Paneer
Q: What dish are you obsessed with mastering that you just can’t get quite right?
A: Shahi Paneer
Q: What food or dish do you eat most regularly?
A: An avocado sandwich with a side of quinoa salad.
Q: What’s one secret talent outside of the kitchen nobody knows about you?
A: Let’s keep that a secret.
Q: Late at night, you are craving something, what are you going to eat?
A: Isn’t it obvious? Pancakes!
Q: What is the one kitchen tool you could never give up?
Oh, when requested to select six songs he listens to, Rattan picked a bit of the new with the old, songs that are culturally soulful and of course a bit of rap.
I imagine he makes pancakes while listening to John Legend’s Good Morning. Have a listen, below!
Good Morning – John Legend
Yeh jo halka halka saroor – Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Fly Me to The Moon – Frank Sinatra
Tumhe Dillagi – Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Baby You Got – G-Unit
Aj Din Chadeya – Rahat Fateh Ali Khan