He is the most entertaining and energetic celebrity chef, who takes you on a gastronomic journey in his funny and lively manner. we are talking about the jolly good fellow who pots together a homely Indian dish on your TV screens everyday. He is none other than Harpal Singh Sokhi.
Chef Harpal Sokhi is a known name in Indian household for cooking with Passion & Panache. He redefined the culinary scenario of India. His humorous style has made cooking easy and fun. He is a multi-faceted personality and versatile, he has touched different spheres of life. He is a performer on stage, a TV anchor, restaurant owner, consultant, social influencer, ted ex speaker and an author.
He believes “A chef is a creator, actor, personality. For him the place where he works is a the stage and he has to deliver every time and only thing that binds all through is good food with all positive energy.”
Harpal Sokhi was born in India’s largest junction Kharagpur in West Bengal, where his father served in Indian railways. Harpal studied hotel management in Bhubaneswar. It was during his early days of hotel school when he realised his heart was in the kitchen & that was something he must pursue.
So after completing hotel management, he decided to learn things from the grass root level. Harpal started off his career from scratch as a Trainee cook in Western Kitchen, Butchery, Bakery and Chinese. However after four years when he shifted to Indian Kitchen, he realized that as an Indian it is most important to know your own food culture.
He began working for a Hyderabadi Restaurant as an Executive Chef under a Hyderabadi Ustad whose cooking was par excellent. But he would not teach Harpal the art of great Hyderabadi cooking. His Ustad would never allow him to come near him while he was cooking. Harpal would spend hours and do everything for him, however he would use his secret spices and not let Harpal know of their usage.
Harpal’s hard work and skills amazed his ustad & won over his heart. Soon, everything he did was translated and shared with Harpal. This marked the beginning of a new story in Hapral’s life as an expert of cooking Hyderabad food. He kept learning the intricacies of Hyderabadi cooking and went on to train himself under Begum Mumtaz Khan and other experts of Hyderabadi food.
This freshly acquired knowledge got him more excited about regional Indian food. Harpal further learnt more of traditional recipes with his visit to Lukhnow, Banaras and Bikaner. In Bikaner he met royal families who thought him recipes such as Kishmis ki subzi, Jasmine ka sherbet and many more traditional recipes.
He further learnt more on Indian food and its ingredients through Ayurvedic Doctor Dr. Omkar Bilgi who revealed the secrets of Ayurvedic cooking and how food effects consciousness as mentioned in ancient Indian scriptures.
To him Ayurveda helps in understanding ingredients, their behavior, reaction, and combination of all ingredients are they right or wrong. We are fortunately very blessed to have a vast ancient knowledge that has been written in the past and knowledge from the kitchens of our grand mothers. I also feel the most important thing that we are still to explore and showcase the world is Ayurvedic cooking in its true sense.
He also thinks a Happy Mind cooks food from the heart and soul. It is very important to be in a positive state of mind while you are cooking.
Harpal has been a cheerful person since his childhood and his friends would look for his company for all the fun. The nature percolated into everything he did and the same reflects in his cooking styles too. In every professional kitchen that Harpal has worked as a Chef, hard work was always converted into a fun activity and that is how he enjoyed cooking.
Harpal says, “Health of any family depends on the food they eat and if there is no positive atmosphere in & around the kitchen, you will never be able to cook good food. So it is very important to be happy in the kitchen.”
Television gave him the opportunity to interact with people, travel across the country, learn and explore food of the country and the world. Television also helped him establish brand Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi.
When he did his first episode of TV show ‘Khana Khazana’, he believed that he did not have adequate knowledge to share with people and he had to acquire more knowledge. While doing television show ‘Desh Da Swad’ he travelled length and breadth of India and met food experts and acquired the in-depth knowledge of regional Indian food & traditional homestyle cooking. And then he knew he was ready to do more television shows.
During the beginning of his now superhit show 'Turban Tadka', he also realised that the young generation was not so excited of being in the kitchen. He knew he had to bring in humour and fun into the kitchens. He had to develop an idea which would be perpetual and exist even when he was not there.
Harpal adds, “I remember I was reading about Gandhi ji’s Salt Satyagrah and how the simplest and the basic thing was used to start the freedom struggle against the British. And an idea struck me. I realized that everyone who cooks at home will put salt in their own measures and that is the most basic ingredient and while putting salt, may be people can do something.”
Harpal was still was still evolving on the show and then one fine day, the Eureka moment happened. He began the singing ‘Namak Shamak Namak Shamak Dal Dete Hain' which he today calls the Food Anthem.
The refreshing smile it brings when you cook is the happiness that he always wanted to spread.