Pursuit of Happiness

Whipping up a riot

A master of crafting and experimenting, Kellogg South Asia’s MD Mohit Anand loves cooking for friends and family

Faisal Magray

As kids, we would come back home to our mother’s jaljeera on a hot summer afternoon or garma garam kachori on a wintery day. But Kellogg South Asia’s MD, Mohit Anand, would take it upon himself to satisfy his cravings. “Since both my parents were working, it was up to me to get adventurous in the kitchen,” he says.

With some hits and misses in the beginning, young Anand picked up the art of cooking. He then graduated to a ‘food messiah’ for his mates during his engineering and management days. “My friends would call me when they wanted to eat anything more interesting than instant noodles,” he chuckles. He thoroughly enjoys cooking for friends and family and more so for his kids. “I usually cook on the weekends now and the kids look forward to my butter paneer and special bhelpuri,” he says.

The secret to Anand’s special bhel is the tamarind chutney that he has perfected over the years. “I concoct the mixture of jaggery and tamarind with roasted jeera and other spices in the right proportion. It has to strike that perfect balance between sweet and sour,” he explains. Finding the perfect balance has led him to experiment with a lot of styles, but one great outcome, he says, has been his version of frozen margaritas. “My favourite is a combination of kiwi and chilli in the drink. It is a hit at our house parties,” he says. Weeks before the lockdown, Anand played bartender at a relative’s wedding party, to which he carried his own blender and served his famous kiwi chilli margaritas.

His fondest memory from his early cooking days is when he managed to make a pizza without an oven. “I put a pizza base on a non-stick pan and covered it with a lid on semi gas. That made the base crisp just like an oven would,” Anand recalls. He then put some ketchup, salami and cheese on the base and added a mix of spices. “These small beginnings fuelled my desire to try my hands on more challenges in the kitchen,” he says.

He plans to pursue a course in mixology from a school in either New Orleans or Italy. “When I have time, I will take a three-month sabbatical and work on my experimenting skills,” he says. Other than drinks, Anand loves experimenting with Indian food and snacks. “I prepare a Spanish omelette with layers of cheese and vegetables. I have mastered the art of flipping this heavy omelette over time,” he says.

Anand likens cooking to art and calls it a form of expressing one’s creativity. “One needs to add a bit of imagination and pepper that with science to create a magical dish. Cooking is all about quality ingredients in the right proportion, cooked at the right temperature,” he says. And as organised as he is with work, he likes to bring to the kitchen as well. “I like to have all the ingredients laid out beforehand and in the right quantities. That helps a lot when I cook,” he says.

Standing in his office kitchen in Mumbai’s Hiranandani Township, Anand tosses some butter in the mixture of suji and water, to get some upma going for us. “Basic preparation and a bit of ground work can help you get things right at the basic level, just like in life,” he says. With a generous helping of cashews and a rich texture, the upma is lip-smacking! The managing director of India’s favourite breakfast cereal definitely knows what crafting and precision mean to make not just today, but every day great.