Chef Shipra Khanna on "The Spice Trail" Through Spain
MasterChef India winner Shipra Khanna in Spain
Indian chef and TV personality Shipra Khanna is taking the culinary world by storm, not only in her own country – where she skyrocketed to fame after winning Masterchef in 2012 – but also in other countries across the globe.
There's no doubt that fortune is shining down on Shipra Khanna. Since winning the second edition of Masterchef India – while in her mid-twenties – this charming and enthusiastic chef has spread her culinary interests far and wide to projects ranging from several television cooking shows, to her own YouTube channel, culinary consulting, pop-up dinners, guest lectures at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and writing cookbooks – one of which, "Sinfully Yours" recently won the "Best TV Celebrity Cookbook" at the 2017 edition of the acclaimed Gourmand Awards. Now, she's casting her net to Spain where she first traveled this past March with prestigious travel company Cox & Kings to develop a gourmet culinary tour of this country, and then returned again this June to work on her upcoming book, "The Spice Trail", about her discovery of Spanish cuisine and journeys through this country, which will be accompanied by a series of webisodes on her YouTube channel.
I caught up for a chat with Shipra Khanna in Madrid, on the last leg of her summer tour, and we talked about her passion for food and travel, "food has made the world a lot smaller", and her love of the Spanish lifestyle, which she thinks is "absolutely the way to go". She also confessed that her relationship with Spanish cuisine started years ago when she randomly tried making tortilla española from a recipe she found – a dish that became one of her 'signature dishes' years before she ever set foot in this country. While her trip in the spring with Cox&Kings took her all over the country, from pintxo-hopping in Basque Country (which she loves) to Cava tasting in Penedès, touring the famous Obrador Santo Tomé marzipan workshop in Toledo, popping into the kitchens of chefs in the Andalusian cities of Seville and Córdoba, visiting the Mercado Central (market) in Valencia, and much more; this time around the chef spent time in Valencia, Segovia and Seville, before coming to Madrid. On the agenda? Meeting people, tasting food, mingling with chefs, browsing markets, visiting producers and sampling their excellent produce (her face lights up when she talks about tasting the cherries from Jerte, and the tomato she ate straight off the vine in Valencia). She also made sure to stock up on some of her favorite Spanish products like olive oil and sweet and hot pimentón to take back to her home in Mumbai.
I asked her to give us a few more hints as to what Spanish people and places might make an appearance in The Spice Trail, and this is what she said:
Favorite Spanish chefs?
Fernando Canales (Etxanobe, Bilbao), Juan Mari Arzak (Arzak, San Sebastián), Enrique Fleischmann (Txoko Getaria, Getaria), Juan Bautista Pénas (Marqués de Riscal Restaurant, Elciego), Antonio Casado (María Trifulca, Seville) and Kisko García (Restaurante Choco, Cordoba).
Favorite Spanish dishes?
Lots of my favorites are from Spanish cuisine – lots of tapas and pintxos are my favorites: Gilda, esgarraet (roasted peppers, salt cod, extra virgin olive oil, garlic), paella, cold soup salmorejo. I can go on and on! I love horchata as well, it's nutritious and delicious. Last but not least, churros!
Favorite Spanish products/ingredients?
Tomatoes, fruit, vegetables, ham... When it comes to ingredients everything is so delicious and sweet. Cherries, oranges or any other fruit!
Favorite Spanish city?
That's a difficult question...! All of Spain is great, but if I have to choose I would say Madrid and Barcelona.
Favorite Restaurant in Spain?
A lot of them: Etxanobe (Bilbao), Casa Montaña (Valencia), El Poblet (Denia, Alicante), La Barraca de Toni Montoliu (Meliana, Valencia), Arzak (San Sebastián), La Maritima (Valencia), Marina Beach Club Valencia, Platea (Madrid).
Favorite Bar in Spain?
The roof top terrace at the Hotel Me Reina Victoria in Madrid and Òpera Samfaina in Barcelona.