Chef Vikas Khanna’s New Book: Return To The Rivers


By Nisha Vedi Pawar @lovelaughmirch & online at:

Chef Vikas Khanna & Food Editor, Nisha Vedi Pawar

Chef Vikas Khanna & Food Editor, Nisha Vedi Pawar

The Michelin starred and executive chef of the award-winning restaurant Junoon, released his newest book, Return to the Rivers: Recipes and Memories of the Himalayan River Valleys at an intimate cocktail party recently at Junoon Restaurant in New York City.

The party was held in the Patiala Lounge section of the restaurant which is adorned with rich fabrics, dimmed lighting, intricate wood benches, and traditional brass Indian swings – making it the perfect backdrop for the event. Appetizers like Peri Peri Shrimp and Paneer Pakora’s were passed around as guests enjoyed house wines.

The book itself is filled with stunning photographs and detailed memories from Khanna’s travels to the Himalayan regions he explored.

Andrew Blackmore- Dobbyn, a chef, writer and Chef Khanna’s traval companion for this journey is a contributor towards the book and the foreword is by The Dalai Lama himself. The book touches on recipes and stories from the people of Northern India, Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet and Western China. Khanna’s book explores a wide variety of cultural delicacies, and is organized by street foods, soups and noodles, grains, vegetables, fish, poultry, eggs and cheese, meats, breads, condiments, desserts and beverages.

There are a variety of recipes ranging from childhood favorites of  kulfi and chaat to traditional Himalayan recipes such as Kopan Masala (a special Nepalese spice blend) to Five Chile Sea Bass. This is the kind of book that you would want to pull out when you have time to experiment and want to experience something other than the everyday daal saabzi. Most of the necessary ingredients would be available in a stocked Indian kitchen.

Vikas Khanna was born in India and learned to cook from a young age from his mother and grandmother. His love for food led him to open his catering company at the young age of seventeen.  After apprenticing under several renowned chefs in India, he moved to the United States in 2000 and worked his way up to be one of New York City’s top rated chefs. My husband always tells me stories about how he remembers seeing him ten years ago sitting in the back of a small hole in the wall restaurant writing recipes and antinodes, gushing at how he was writing his first book.

I was lucky enough to get some time with Vikas Khanna in his Spice Room at Junoon and talk about his travels and book. I was in love with the simple yet colorful room dedicated to spices that Chef Khanna has collected through his travels! He proudly boasted about how all the spices are freshly ground at the restaurant to ensure freshness and authenticity.

There is a blackboard propped up in the center of the room with a basic garam masala recipe and common spice combinations. I sat down with Chef Khanna outside the room in cozy lounge area for a little one on one time to learn more about the book.

MM: You always mention your mom and your grandmother were your greatest influences while learning to cook. What advice can you give mothers whose children want to get involved in the kitchen?

VK: Some of our first memories are made in the kitchen, smelling our favorite foods, peeping underneath lids to see what our mothers are cooking. Mother’s should encourage their children to help, prepare and enjoy meal time.

MM: What was one ingredient you discovered during your travels while writing this book?

VK: The different varieties of salts! I was amazed to discover the depth of flavors in each variety of salt.

MM:  We mothers are always on a time crunch, trying to fit in all daily activities, school commitments, while still trying to prepare fresh nutritious food for our families. As a chef what is one  weeknight meal you would recommend that would be quick yet nutritious.

VK:  A simple yellow dal is wholesome, filling and goes perfect with hot fresh rice. To enhance the flavor add a bit of coconut milk to the dal before serving, it elevates the flavors immensely.

This was my second time spending time with well-traveled chef. See my Masala Minute Interview with him here . Humble is the best word to describe him. His love of food and culture shines through as he describes his recipes and travels. In addition to this book, Vikas Khanna released another book a few weeks ago named, Bliss of Spices.


You can hear more about his book from Vikas Khanna himself in this video:


[vsw id=”n08qMRgd1B8″ source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]


His latest book, is available at: Barnes & Nobles and Amazon

For more information on Vikas Khanna visit:

You can follow Vikas Khanna’s journeys at: @TheVikasKhanna




(Visited 706 times, 1 visits today)

There is 1 comment

Add yours
  1. Rishi Kapur

    Vikas ji you have gotten so much pride to your country. I used to work in hospitality in Australia and I know exactly how hard it is to make it in the global world. But you are one such hero who has changed to way people think about Indian food. Always praying for your more and more success. I feel that your progress is our progress. Rishi and Tina

Post a new comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.