Pursuit of Happiness

Self-taught gourmet

A work assignment in Singapore helped Pirojshaw Sarkari of Mahindra Logistics discover a hidden talent

Around 20-years-ago, this Chartered Accountant moved to Singapore on a work assignment. The three-month-long stay helped him discover his passion for cooking. Pirojshaw Sarkari, now the CEO of Mahindra Logistics, has been pursuing it happily for the past two decades.

He is modest about his culinary accomplishments, saying he cannot be called a cook, but Sarkari is confident that he has upgraded his skills over the past 20 years. “I am not a professional cook of course, but I certainly make sure that I am not making the same dish every weekend. I am a self-proclaimed gourmet cook,” he says.

It all started during his short stay in Singapore with two vegetarian guys. Sarkari and two others usually ordered food from outside or enjoyed trying new dishes in the city. However, after a couple of weeks, it became taxing and Sarkari decided to help his flatmates by trying to cook something Indian.

“I remember, it wasn’t planned. I just called up home and asked for a recipe that would be easy to cook for a first timer like me. To my surprise, I made decent batata vadas (mashed potato in gram-flour wraps and fried) which were a big hit with my friends,” he recalls. And that’s how Sarkari discovered his hidden talent.

Everytime he told his family that he was cooking for his flatmates, he was told that he will have to cook for his family too once he is back in India. He happily agreed. Culinary art has run in his family for generations. His paternal grandmother was an amazing cook. Now so is he, his wife and his younger daughter.

“My paternal grandmother had nine children and she sent tiffins to them every day. I believe she passed on some of those genes to me,” says Sarkari. Well, he has also passed on his skills successfully to his younger daughter, who is now pursuing cooking at New York-based The Culinary Institute of America.

Amongst the numerous recipes that Sarkari has cooked till now, his best one remains the leg of lamb. He has named it “Shahenshahi Raan”. He says that his experiments in the kitchen are improved by his trips to the bazaar, instead of shopping online. “At the Grant Road Market, there is a guy who runs Royal Meat and I select my mutton from there. Shahenshahi Raan is a tenderised dish made with papaya, and the mutton needs to be selected carefully. The entire process of tenderising and marinating takes at least 12 hours, but the actual cooking next day takes about an hour,” he says.

He does not follow a manual or a cookery channel. But he is a fan of Gordon Ramsay, the British celebrity chef, and enjoys following his recipes once in a while on television. Watching such celebrity chef also familiarises you with otherwise foreign ingredients, he says.

Though work keeps him busy, he takes time out once a week for his hobby. “Cooking helps me de-stress and, luckily, my family is full of foodies. So, every time I cook something new, they appreciate my effort. It relaxes me,” says Sarkari.