Ulka Santra, a salesman and a passionate cook, loves to be praised and admired for his delicious dishes. His unique and creative skill of turning simple homemade food into tasty and sumptuous, restaurant quality cuisine has not only made him the favorite of his family, friends and neighbors but has also paved his path straight into nation’s biggest cooking competition – The Master Chef Kitchen.
Interview by: Soma
From BA in Literature to cooking, how come this happened?
Cooking was always my passion, from childhood only I was interested in cooking. I started cooking with my grandmother at very early age. I was studying BA because of my parents. My father always wanted me to do a government job, so because of this family pressure I started studying BA in Literature. I started working in food store at very early age to continue my passion. I started working after completing my 10th standard. Meanwhile, I was also trying for AMUL Masterchef past few years. Finally, hard work of so many years worked and I got selected. Now, my family is really supportive with the work I am doing.
Tell us about the experiments that you have done with foods?
So, as a home cook there are various things to do experiments with. I used to follow many chef and observe the experiments they used to do with home foods and easy available equipment like cooker, tawa, handi and so on. Bengalis have very good cousins, like we can do experiments with them. We can make the normal food fancy. I started making the food fancy by changing the look and structure of the food which is acceptable by today’s generation. Today’s generation is very much into junk foods, we don’t understand the flavor of what we had in home food. The food our grandparents used to make with simple ingredients. Now, the thing is coming back. The big chefs are focusing on that part of food . Every food and ingredient has their individual taste, when people with know then they will understand the flavour and their worth. This trendy junk foods like cheese, pizza, burger, cola and drinks, people have forgot the flavor that we had. So, people are living in imported food and clothes . So, it a very high time to showcase what we got. The world also want to know about our food culture. So, from this I got inspiration and started modifying with my home food. For example, I experimented with festival fasting food, over cooked both dal and chawal together and get them the texture of shusy rise. Now the same faste food is in new form with different texture and look, but there is no difference of taste. We are having the same food but in different look.
Who is your role model?
My grandmother is my inspiration in this process. My mother never allowed me to cook in childhood. I used to watch my grandma, preparing food and use to add ingredients to the foods while she was cooking . That’s how I started cooking.
What are your more favorite dishes?
People like Ghugni chaat prepared by me. Ghugni served with papri, beetroot chatni, Sewae, anar, lots of nuts and sweet curd. This food is basically liked by my sister and mother.
What was the first dish that you cooked ?
The first thing that I prepared was tea when I was 4 years old. No one thought and excepted the fact that I prepared it. So, I threw it in anger and started crying. Then my parents started asking for it. But, It was too late because I have already threw that.
How did you feel seeing the expression of judges tasting your food?
Firstly, I never expected this thing that I will get the chance to meet the judges. When I met them, I was literally shivering . I didn’t had any words to express them. I was having many feeling at the same time. I was worried, nervous, tensed, happy, excited at the same time. The judges really like my food and they said they could see the spark in me, so they thought I am really capable of being in the show.
Where do you see yourself in future?
I never expected, I want to be a good cook. I want serve good foods to people and make happy with it.
How did you feel when, you were among the top10 contestant of Amul Master Chef?
When the banner came for the first time, I saw my picture. It was like dream come true moment for me. I never expected, I will come this far. I will in the competition with the famous judges of India. I will compete with so many good cooks of India. It was a life changing moment for me. I still remember the day, when I got selected and the apron of my name. My mom was there by my side . I got flash back to the moments when I have done hardworks to reach this very point and I got emotional. Chef Vineet Bhatia is my Idiol Chef. I followed him from very beginning. The thing inspired how he stablished himself with his food. The restaurant, he has recently opened in Abu Dubai. I am a very huge fan of him. So, when I first got to know that one of the judges is Chef Vineet Bhatia. I got really excited. This is the third time, I am trying for MasterChef and I am really lucky that this time Vineet Bhata is in the show and I got selected.
As a chef where do you find your strength?
As a chef, the things that, I have experimented with my food has helped me a lot. I have practiced with home easy available item and adjust in every situation, which is helping me now to cope up with any situation. I really like the way I am versatile. I am really thankful to my life.
Your message to the inspiring chefs.
If you think, you have passion and love for food then go for it. And this industry will never disappoint you. This field is open for everyone, for all inspiring cooks, who want to great chefs in future, will always be happy to be around with food.
Reciepe by Ulka
Egg yolk 2
Cream 85 ml (wipping or cream fresh)
Vanilla essence few drops
Sugar 15 Gm
Granulated sugar for caramel
- Take a bole and mix all the ingredients except rasgullas and granulated sugar
- Take a remakin bowl
Squeeze the extra liquid (Sugar srup of rasgulla) and put the rassgulla
- then pour the mix on top of the Rasgulla
The Rasgulla should be fully covered with the mix
- Preheat The oven in 160°c take
- Baking tray
Fill with water put the cream brulle and bake for 30-40 min until set
Depends on the quality of ingredients you are using
- Now the fun part sprinkle some granulated sugar on top of your cream brulle and blow torch
If you don’t blow torch u can put a thin layer of dry caramel on top
*dry caramel is just melted sugar.