Meet Abinas Nayak, winner of the coveted Masterchef India title for Season 6. Abinas was raised in Berhampur, Odisha but working as an IT engineer took him to various cities like Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram. It was in Hyderabad where he experimented with different ingredients and discovered his love for regional cuisines of India. He is greatly inspired by the Odia cuisine and even while he was on the show he would think of ways to include an Odia twist to his dish. "I've always been a foodie but my love for regional cuisine made me start cooking. The joy of transforming raw ingredients into a beautiful dish made me leave my IT job to take up cooking professionally", he says.

 
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While so many of us are currently experimenting with different cuisines and ingredients in the kitchen, Masterchef Abinas speaks to us about his unique lockdown kitchen trials and shares with us a special Odia beverage recipe that you need to try as soon as you can.

Have there been any unique dishes you've made during this lockdown?

I have been experimenting with a lot of cooking techniques during the lockdown of which fermentation and pickling are two of them. I recreated an Odia classic dish called "Pagaw" by pickling onions, tomatoes and ambula (Odia preparation of dried and salted green mangoes).
 
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What is your advice to new cooks at home?

I am so happy to see many people try their hands at cooking. My advice to all the new home chefs is to start with the basics. Learning the basics of chopping and cutting, understanding vegetables with an approach to the different seasons, different masalas and spices and most importantly by talking to your mom and grandma and hearing their stories and learning from them.

What are the ingredients one should always keep in the pantry?

You should always stock up on a variety of dals and legumes as they are so versatile. From snacks to a full course dinner, dals can be included in every dish. This lockdown is also the perfect time to educate yourself on the different varieties of legumes and dals that we can use in different dishes.

Summer Special Chenna Panna Recipe

This is an Odia classic drink made with crumbled cottage cheese, crystal sugar or rock sugar (Mishri), coconut and banana that is best suited for the summer season.

Ingredients

Curd - 3 tbsp
Chenna/ Cottage cheese - 3 tbsp
Shredded coconut - 3 tbsp
Mashed Ripe Bananas - 4 nos
Mishri-3 tsp( as per sweetness )
Black Pepper Powder - 1 tsp
Green cardamom Powder - 1 tsp
Tulsi leaf- 4-5
Salt to taste
Cold Water 2 glasses
Ripe Mangoes and shredded coconut for garnishing


Method

  • Add all the ingredients in a bowl with cold water.
  • Mix well and serve in a glass.
  • Garnish with chopped mangoes and coconut.
  • Enjoy your drink anytime during summer.


Images Courtesy: Abinas Nayak  

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