With Inspired dishes like Shaami Kabab, Keema Bhopali and Rajasthani Kabuli Celebrity Chef Aditya Bal has become renowned for his culinary skills, A self-taught Chef. Aditya’s story is an inspiring one of someone who fought against all odds to follow his passion of becoming a professional chef.
Aditya Bal grew up in Kashmir in a typical Punjabi family watching his grandmother swirl up delicious meals and bake passionately. During his university days in Delhi at the age of 19 he got his first modelling assignment and without any plan he accepted it. Soon he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Dino Morea John Abraham and Arjun Rampal on the ramp. He was later spotted on big screen starring opposite Meghna Naidu in the film Mashooka in 2005. The film was forgettable.
“I did the film because I didn’t know where I fit in, nobody takes you seriously when you are a new comer so you do what you know best, be in front of camera and go with the flow and make your own path,” recalls Bal.
When nothing was working out for him during his free time he would read through Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks. His interest was conspicuous enough and prompted him to acquire his newly passion for cooking. As fate would have it Bal went ahead with his love for cooking.
“If you really want something so bad in life, go for it” shares Aditya to Storymakers.
Soon love for cooking took over; I landed in Goa and worked in a friend’s restaurant for two years. Goa is the only place that could give me work as I had no formal training in catering. During this period I had trained at an Italian Mediterranean and Goan restaurant. I was back in Mumbai looking for a job but hotel kitchens didn’t hire me for less experience. This is when one of my friends advised me to approach NDTV GoodTimes. After 4 months of audition I received a call from the channel informing I had been selected for their upcoming show. I made debut with the show ‘Chak Le India’ in 2010, recollects Aditya.
The show features Chef Aditya Bal as host who travels various parts of the country in search of authentic flavors and tries his own variations of these traditional dishes in his kitchen. ‘Chak Le India’ was a program of its own kind on Indian television and people immediately connected to it because it was more than a tour guide a food guide series. The show gave his culinary skills a new direction and today he is the most celebrated anchor Chef’s on ‘Chak Le India’.
Watch below video of Chef Aditya Bal showcasing culinary feast in Gujrat from ‘Chak Le India’
Luscious and mouth watering dishes, right!
Bal hosted many other travel food shows for various channels like Lost Recipes on Epic channel where he is seen travelling extensively to many interior packets of the country in search of age old recipes that have been saved by a few families. There were recipes that were thousand years old and according to him Malabari Andhra and Bengali recipes stand out in India.
The Chef Says people like to experiment in process of adding new element to a dish gradually compromising with the essence of original technique as a result losing soul of the recipe so I don’t like meddling with traditional recipes. His best experience was cooking in larger kitchens of Gurudwara in Amritsar and Jaganath temple in Puri. “Though I was not allowed inside the Jaganath temple Kitchen, I was told many fascinating facts about Mahaprasad and Chappan Bhog for lord Jagganath and the cooking customs by the Suaras (cooks) of the temple. The time spent in the community kitchen in golden temple Amritsar where the food is being prepared by the sevaks and volunteers was overwhelming. The experience of cooking dal rice in the langar in Gurudwara was elevating for me.
Ask about his favorite food the chef replies with a smile, “I am a simple dal chawal and dahi person.”
Having lived in many different states in his life – Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa- where he learnt to cook, Karnataka, Delhi and currently in Kolkata West Banal. Aditya says I hardly stayed at one place and every time I moved it made me more creative and ingenious. Making me the man I am today!
Speaking about the current Pandemic situation with restaurants being closed or operating on an adjusted basis to supply take-out meals to loyal supporters in an effort to help them keep the lights on Chef Bal has been cooking at home for his fellow neighboring residents in Kolkata using ingredients sourcing from local vendors he prepares individual meals and gives them in vacuum sealed bags including reminders about hygiene and self-care, establishing workable business practices and need of remaining flexible during these trying times.
To Aditya Bal the ability to blend various ingredients and bring them together in a beautiful way is exciting and having the potential to deliver such unique happiness to others through food provides him a level of personal satisfaction incomparable to any other quest.
Chef Aditya Bal is a self-made success story. He has learnt through experimentation and has incorporated variety of traditional food techniques by picking up some tips while travelling.
“During my culinary journey, I haven’t had a mentor neither I have worked under any famous chef. I have learned while travelling remote areas and through cookbooks.”
He is a perfect example that nothing is impossible with hard work, commitment and dedication.
( Written by Raavya Sarda)