From being the Food Producer for MasterChef India to starting one of the most popular food channels 'Your Food Lab' on social media, Chef Sanjyot Keer has come a long way. Mumbai-based Keer also featured in 'Forbes India's Tycoons of Tomorrow' in the year 2018.
Keer speaks about his journey and future plans. Excerpts:
Tell us more about your journey and the 'Your Food Lab' initiative?
Keer: In 2014, right after my graduation, I was offered to be the food producer of MasterChef. It was a really interesting and amazing amalgamation of visuals and videos for me. After the show, I did get other offers, but I wanted to pursue something of my own. It was then Your Food Lab came into being.
I started working with my father for a while and started working on my culinary skills on the weekends. I decided to upload one of my cooking videos on Facebook and to my surprise it gained millions of views in just 24 hours. From there, I went ahead and officially launched Your Food Lab.
In a week's time, the third video went viral and garnered over a million views and then there was no looking back. That is how the journey began for YFL. We diversified into Instagram and YouTube as well. Today, YFL has become one of YouTube's biggest channels where people see my content and connect with it. The journey has been strong and it is growing at a significant pace. We look forward to an amazing growth on all the platforms.
What are your future plans?
Keer: We will surely produce a series for an OTT platform in India and see how it goes. It could be about food or a combination of both food and travel. Also, I want to venture into virtual education. I'm planning to start with YFL Academy where one can learn cooking and how to become a creator on an online media platform.
But currently, we are working on the YFL online presence apart from social media in terms of applications and a dedicated website.
How did you utilise the lockdown period to channelise YFL?
Keer: A lot of things changed during the lockdown. In the initial lockdown phase, not many people come out of their houses. So they used to cook with whatever ingredients they had. And that's how a lot of different recipes came into being. We also did a lot of 'jugaadu' recipes that means cooking without all the ingredients available.
Any advice for aspiring chefs?
Keer: I think you learn through the way. I started my journey from scratch. You will need to stop comparing yourself with others. Secondly, whatever ideas you're going to have, what you want to do in the future, try it out before really giving it up. Never kill your 'stupid' idea. Believe in yourself and do whatever it takes to make your idea a real thing. Don't make pre-assumptions about how the path will teach you, because if you are open to learning, you will evolve, you will grow, and you will always be successful.
A recipe you would like to share?
Keer: Spinach rice with vegetables and paprika sauce. It's a very simple recipe I did recently.
Set water for boiling, add the cleaned and washed spinach leaves and blanch for few seconds, remove and immediately transfer to ice cold water. This process helps in retaining the bright green colour of spinach. Now, transfer the spinach in grinding jar, along with fresh mint leaves, coriander leaves, green chillies, grind to a fine puree and keep aside. Set a wok on medium heat, add butter & oil, garlic and red chilli flakes, cook for 1-2 minutes on medium flame, now add the spinach puree and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add cooked rice, salt to taste, black pepper powder a pinch and lemon juice, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes, stir gently without breaking the rice grains. Spinach rice is ready, serve hot with hot paprika sauce.
For sautéed veggies, set a wok on medium heat, add oil, garlic and red chilli flakes, cook for 2-3 minutes. Now, add baby corn & carrot and cook for 2-3 minutes on high flame, further add the remaining veggies, salt & pepper to taste, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes, sauted veggies are ready, keep aside to be added later in the paprika sauce.
For paprika sauce, set a sauce pan or wok on low heat, add butter and flour, mix and cook for 3-4 minutes, now add milk in 3-4 batches, make sure to whisk well while adding milk to avoid lump formation. Cook the sauce until its thick and creamy. Now add paprika powder, salt to taste, black pepper powder a pinch and nutmeg powder, mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes, further add the sauted veggies and cook for 1-2 minutes, now add the paneer and mix gently. sauce with sauted veggies and paneer is ready, serve hot with hot spinach rice.
It's a perfect meal for a lunch, brunch, or dinner, or also an early dinner recipe. And I'm sure you guys will love it.