After Fashion Career, Mansi Kapoor Turned Chef With Awadhi Season
Mansi Kapoor, founder of Awadhi Season, brings the unique flavours of Lucknow on to the tables in Delhi. She started up her home-based business to let Delhiites know what authentic Awadhi cuisine tastes like.
Before donning the chef’s hat, Mansi was working as a merchandiser. After her daughter was born, the new mom couldn’t be apart from her baby and stayed home. Food and cooking was always a passion and so becoming a home chef was a natural process for her. “I could indulge in my love for cooking and look after my kids at the same time,” says the mother-turned-home-chef who changed the definition of how home-staying moms should take up unique career.
Mansi believes she inherited the culinary expertise from her family. “My grandfather was an extremely social person and we had parties every other day. He was passionate about food and loved to explore flavours and cuisines. We would have long discussions over various cuisines and their preparation rituals, etc. all the time.”
After her Post Graduation from NIFT, Kapoor was working as a merchandiser. Things changed after her daughter was born. “I couldn’t stay away from her. I always wanted to be around my children,” explains Kapoor.
“My aunts came from diverse backgrounds and their expertise in the kitchen made our meals more varied and interesting,” – Mansi Kapoor
The women in her family took great pride in keeping a good table, the home chef says. “I remember my grandmother, even took pains over a simple Khichri, where the subtle flavours of ginger and cumin were meant to tease but never overpower the tastebuds. My mother spent many a summer afternoon peeling and dicing raw mangoes to make tantalizing pickles and chutneys. I have eaten fragrant Qormas prepared by aunts that could be the pride of any nawabi dastarkhwan.”
Being Home Chef Is
“Cooking happened to me naturally. I came to learn that cooking is not just following a recipe, but putting your heart in creating a dish that will be remembered long after the leftovers have been polished off”
Starting The Business
Primarily through word-of-mouth, Kapoor says. “My first set of clients were the very friends who encouraged me to take forward my love for cooking professionally. The next wave was the friends of friends who had tasted and appreciated my food.”
“A restaurant with a difference, where food and taste are not dictated by mass commercial requirements,” says the passionate chef.
Inspiration: Family as a Backbone
“I’ve been cooking since the age of 9. My grandmother had a separate kitchen and a lot of time spent with her made me realise my love for cooking. She allowed me to cook for her and also experiment. During festivals, making pakwaan, the traditional sweets and savouries was a favourite activity. After school, I would rush upstairs to her kitchen to help. While most of my cousins found it boring after a while, I would happily make holes in mathris, chatting away with her,” Kapoor recalls.
Balancing home, life and profession the biggest challenge
When we moved to Delhi, biryani and kebabs from my kitchen became very popular among family and friends. They pushed me to start a home catering service and since then the journey has been amazing.
“I cook with my whole heart and soul. I don’t compromise on ingredients and am very meticulous regarding the methods of cooking a particular dish.”
Is The Stereotype Changing for Women?
Yes of course! Women are no longer tied to their house kitchens but are opening restaurants, catering, blogging and doing so much more.
Cooking as a Liberated Profession for Women
Till the time women are ‘supposed’ to be cooking in the kitchen, it becomes the limiting factor…when they are free to use their skill as they please, it’s the liberating factor.
“The world belongs to women and the kitchen comes along with it”
Indians and Their Love for Cuisines
Indian lives have always revolved around food. We are amazing at experimenting with new flavours and cuisines. At the same time, we are also adept in customising cuisines, ingredients and flavours. It’s almost unbelievable that potatoes, chilli, onions, tomatoes and garlic are of foreign origin. Samosas and kebabs came to us from the Middle East. Chowmein is as Indian as any other street food.
Good help is seriously hard to come by. One needs to understand and share my passion for food to earn my confidence in allowing them to take on the smallest of tasks.
A Casual Day For This Chef
As an independent cook, after packing off the kids and husband to school and office, I dedicate my time to my clients completely. I like to buy my own meat, vegetables etc. Cooking for an elaborate order can sometimes take up a whole day or two.
“Sometimes finding specific masalas like lazzat-e-taam (only available in Lucknow) is hard in a metro city like Delhi. As I am very particular about my recipes when I get chance, I pick them up on my various trips to Lucknow or friends get it for me.”