Aayanjit: A Chef In The Making [Part 1]

In late November, I received a message in my Facebook mailbox that read, “Hi Mam, Would you like to share recipes with me?”. The email was from a total stranger, but I thought “Why not? I love sharing recipes”. The stranger turned out to be a sweet, handsome, young man from India. And luckily for me, he agreed to share more than just recipes… he agreed to share his story.

Aayanjit Pukan, MyLastBite.com

Nineteen-year-old Aayanjit Phukan is a first year culinary student at the Institute of Hotel Management, located in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. I had no clue where Aurangabad was located (Anthony Bourdain didn’t visit Aurangabad on his “No Reservations” tour of India!), so I headed to Wikipedia and looked up information on the city.

Aurangabad was named after Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and means “Built by the Throne”. The city is surrounded by historical monuments including the Ajanta caves and a replica of the Taj Mahal called Bibi Ka Maqbara.  More on Wikipedia

I asked Aayanjit to tell me more about his culinary school. He explained that the Institute of Hotel Management (IHM-A) is run by the Taj Group, which in turn is affiliated with the University of Huddersfield in Aayanjit Pukan, MyLastBite.comthe United Kingdom. From the IHM-A website: “We are the only institute granted permission by the Government of India for foreign university affiliations. Our curriculum is internationally recognised, critically scrutinised and frequently amended, ensuring reflection of the latest trends in the industry.” More Info

Aayanjit entered the Culinary Arts Program on September 4th, 2008. The curriculum is divided into bi-weekly courses. One week they work on Theory and the next week on Practicals. For instance, this week it would be “Food and Beverage Practicals” and the week after that would be “Kitchen Practicals”. Curriculum (pdf)

Aayanjit Pukan, MyLastBite.comFirst year students at the Culinary Institute stay in hostels. Aayanjit lives in “Boys Hostel 2” (BH2). Each room houses two students and his roommate, Soham Nimkar, is from Mumbai.

The school day begins at 7:00 am and students have breakfast together at the institute. Classes are from 9:30 am-12:30, then lunch is served until 2:30. After lunch the students are allowed to return to the hostel, but they must be back at the institute for classes at 2:30pm. Snacks are served at 4:30 then students usually go back to their rooms. Aayanjit says he then does homework or works out at the gym.

Dinner is served from 7:15 – 8:30. Aayanjit usually has dinner around 8:00, and then returns to the hostel with his friends. Curfew for first year students is 9:00 pm, but they usually stay up together listening to music, studying, writing recipes or they hop online to chat with friends.

On Saturdays the students have “half-day”, so after lunch Aayanjit takes advantage of the spare time to catch up on his sleep. Sundays start around noon, then he and his friends meet up for lunch and usually a movie. His friends (I love the beautiful names!) include: Abhishek Gaonkar (from Mumbai), Ranaditya Kumar (New Delhi), Soham Nimkar (Mumbai), Abhimanyu Grover (Chandigarh), Ishan Gupta (New Delhi), Danish Nizamuddin (Kerala) and Priyanka Dutta, a fourth year student from New Delhi.

When I asked Aayanjit who his favorite chefs are he wrote ,”Well mam I have five favourite chefs: Gordon Ramsay, Alain Ducasse, Thomas Keller, Anthony Bourdain and Sanjeev Kapoor. Chef Gordon Ramsay tops my list.”

The only chef I wasn’t familiar with was Sanjeev Kapoor. His books are available on Amazon and the first one I purchased is titled “Simply Indian”.  Kapoor’s Official Website

In one of his first emails to me, Aayanjit asked if I had tried Indian food. I laughed when I read the message because I LOVE Indian food. I told him that my husband and I love it so much that it was served at our wedding. He replied “Wow Indian food in your marriage, that means you really like Indian food. HAPPY!! Are there shops where you get Indian spices? I can send you some great recipes which you can try out .”

Indian Spices, MyLastBite.comThe first recipe was for Chicken Korma and I was thrilled. I’d never attempted to make it because I figured it would be too difficult, Korma being my very favorite Indian dish and all! The only challenging part was finding “sour curd”. I called several Indian markets near me and only one said they had sour curd. When I got there, the shopkeeper pointed me to yogurt. I tried two other Indian markets and it was the same thing, so I bought the yogurt along with an official “masala dabba” spice container. I also picked up some basmati rice, naan bread, papadums and various pickles. 

Chicken Korma, MyLastBite.com

Aayanjit’s Chicken Korma Recipe

chicken 750 grams (1.65 lbs)
sour curd  1 and 1/2 cup (I used yogurt)
red chillies 7-8
cashew nuts 16-20
ginger juice 2tsp
peppercorns 7-8
sugar 1tsp
vegetable oil 3tbsp
onions  (I used two small)
cardamom (4 pods)
cinnamon (I used 1 large stick)


1) grate onions, make a paste of 7-8 cashew nuts , mix 3 tbsp of water to the curd, slit the red chillies.

2) fry the chicken a bit, until brownish. Keep aside.

3) marinate the fried chicken for 2 hours with the curd, cashew paste, chillies, salt (as required) and ginger juice.

4) put oil, fry onions (keep the onions a bit white, because the dish is supposed to be white in colour)

5) add the marinated chicken, cook on low flame, then add the rest of the chopped cashews. add 1tsp of sugar.

6) add slightly crushed peppercon and cinnamon and cardamom 5 mins before it’s finished. Use less curd if its too sour or you can balance it by mixing it with some sugar.

Best goes with naan,tandoori roti accompanied with some pickle.


HOW IT SHOULD TASTE: Spicy and the tangy flavour should be there.

“Mam please try it and let me know how you liked it.”

I loved the recipe (photo above) and my husband was thrilled that I would regularly be making Chicken Korma at home. We devoured it with Basmati rice cooked in Ghee, Mango Chutney, Garlic Naan and Spicy Papadums. 

Indian Markets, MyLastBite.com


  Masala Dabba, MyLastBite.com


Posted 1/8/09

Aayanjit: A Chef In The Making to be continued.



Filed under Food Stories (written by me)

32 responses to “Aayanjit: A Chef In The Making [Part 1]

  1. Afaf

    It looks good & it sounds good I have to try to make it!!

  2. Wow….looks and sounds so yummy! I’m going to have to try it. I am a HUGE fan of Indian food as well. I was fortunate enough to become very good friends with a girl who taught me a little bit about Hindustana Khana.

  3. Jonny

    OMG what a cool guy. Can’t wait to follow the journey of this Chef-in-the-making!

  4. Yum, this is my husbands favorite! I’ll definitely have to give this s a try, thanks!

  5. Tony

    Man ur dish is mouth watering…….i wanna taste it!!!

  6. A perfect example of what hard work, dedication and dreams can achieve…Aayan’s just at the first step of what will surely be a long and eventful journey…Keep up the good work…!!!

    Cheers!!! & Regards.

  7. Amrit Pal

    Congratulations Ayan. Carry on the good work.

  8. arun verma

    Well done ,keep the passion going it will take you places and you will enjoy every day of your work and studies.Will try out your ideas.

  9. Jugnu

    Great!!!! Now we have someone official to get recipes from. Great going Ayan!!!!
    My best wishes to you…..may you become greater than the greatest…….

  10. delicious ayan! I think it’s a scrumptuous association, you’ve brewed. Looking forward to more mouth-watering concoctions. Hope you make it as a fully baked, flavourful culinary expert. Call me for a meal then. (Do add masor tenga to the spread.)

  11. Arun

    Well done ! remember “All dreams can come true, if one has the courage to pursue them.” (WD)

  12. P.K.Baruah

    Great Ayan.We all are waiting for you.When you are coming home?Since I am alone in London, I will definitely try this.Best wishes to you.

  13. Prabal

    I thought I knew Ayan, now I know him better. My good wishes to the young talent, and to the person who got him this audience. Cheers!

  14. Pranay Saharia

    Ayan, you look good in your photographs’. Woh! What a change in you in such a short time. I am sure you are enjoying , living your passion of cooking. Keep it up. GOD BLESS YOU.

  15. Prarthana Borah (Runa Mahi)

    Ayan, you make us proud! Continue working consistantly the way you are now and sky will be the limit. And yes……. your first dinner in London will be at Gordon Ramsay’s personally cooked Restaurant … a promise!!!!

  16. Bandana Nabis Das

    Great going. Keep it up.

  17. Sano

    You were always good at this… and wow, am I glad to see you getting better… and surely on way to becoming the Best !! ( Am already hungry for more goodies from your end! )

  18. aditi

    hey ayan….ur dish luks delicious…d nxt tmewe r bth in ghy u r definately makin dis 4 me n no kiddin!!u mst b all in d air wid so many praises.bt ya ok,u sure deserve dem too….

    carry on wid d hard wrk…
    gud luck chef ayanjit!!!!lol!!


  19. Nayan Manna

    Hey man…… Well done , cool spicy tangy dish. I’ll try it out. Its good to see you’re passionate about your work. Best of luck!!!!

  20. Bhaity

    Great Ayan – Make the world lick your finger.

  21. Благодарю!!!У Вас часто появляются очень интересные посты! Очень поднимаете мое настроение.

  22. To Mushig,

  23. kester

    ohh wow ayan
    would love to meet you someday

  24. Я тоже в блоге про такое пишу, только на тему фильмы

  25. Слушай, как долго вот такой пост писал? Жутко интересно….

    (Roughly Translated: Listen, how long have you been writing this post? Terribly interesting)

  26. Админ, ты долго этот пост сочинял? Жутко интересно….

    (Rough translation: “The administrator, you composed this post? Interesting”)

  27. Да, с приходом тепла периодичность написания постов стремительно падает у всех 🙂

  28. mallika saikia

    Actually ayan, i am a friend of ranjini’s.I tried this lovely recipe of urs and it became an instant success.wow, i jst wanted to thank you and ask u 4 more. keep going guy. u will rock one day.

  29. Фигня какая-то. Извените конечно.

  30. All you good, please continue to write more

  31. Hi ayan !!been so long since I last saw or even heard from you !!great to see all the good work !!u always liked eating n now ur cooking also !!good work my friend !!try get in touch:)

  32. Smita Verma

    Hey Ayan it’s lovely to find you doing so good for yourself..I have come across your father on Facebook ,who was a pen-pal of mine about 34 years back..He told me about you since I am a food critic and hence i went through your website..Shall sure keep in touch with you..Liked your Chicken Korma recipe..Keep up your good work and all the best to you my boy 🙂

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