For the Misras, every weekend was booked for a scrumptious chicken meal. Growing up in a small town in Odisha, Mahesh Misra would cycle with his father to the vegetable market whenever the latter would cook. “I grew up in a family where everyone loved eating and they would eventually find their way to the kitchen,” says the CEO of India Mortgage Guarantee Corporation.
Misra’s own gourmet journey started not too long ago when he was 31 years old. Initially, he would scout for popular local recipes before travelling there, until he decided to give it a go himself. “I would not experiment much in the beginning, so I started by cooking easy recipes,” says Misra. It is a big step to cook for several guests, especially when your skills would be scrutinised. For Misra, it took him around three to four years to gain that level of confidence. But he cheerfully remembers his first ever goof-up when he cooked for his guests. “Kashmiri yakhni was the first dish I cooked for them; it was absolutely horrible,” he laughs. But one bad experience did not stop him from perfecting his skills. In fact, he has a special liking for preparing one dish in multiple ways. Amongst all the unconventional dishes he has made, railway mutton curry and chicken bharta are his favourites. The former is an Anglo-Indian recipe dating back to the British era; the latter, Kolkata-style bharta, used to be a staple fare at dhabas but not so much now. But dhabas have their own kind of food, a taste that you would not get to enjoy in a five-star hotel. And like any college kid, Misra holds fond memories of going to these roadside dhabas. “I would go to these dhabas all the time with my friend from the hostel when I lived in Bengaluru. I learnt to make my first ever dish, chicken curry from him,” he quips. In fact, he loves cooking chicken bharta so much that it is the one dish that he has experimented the most with. No wonder then that he has prepared it for his guests time and again.
Nowadays, weekend afternoon’s are reserved for cooking, which is almost therapeutic for him. As the weekend nears, Misra begins brainstorming new concoctions to use in his dish — a habit he picked up from his father. “When it comes to cooking, practice makes you perfect and experimenting is good.”
Misra acknowledges the role of his wife too. He speaks highly of her cooking talent and for always inspiring him. Besides belonging to a family of foodies, his sisters have authored cookbooks too. “I have their books stored in my house. Whenever I want to experiment, I refer to their recipes,” he says. So will Misra follow the same footsteps too? He might or might not, we will have to wait for it.