Khanna is the author of six culinary books, including Mango Mia, the royalties for which go to Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charities.
So how does the do-gooder make a living? Khanna, who was the chef at Salaam Bombay for four years, runs Sanskrit Culinary Arts through which he caters private parties and teaches classes, besides being a consultant to four restaurants. A piece of gulab jamun for a man who was running his own banquet-catering hall when he was 17!
Growing up in Amritsar, he was cooking since he was a child, and later got trained at the Welcomegroup, Sheraton and Oberoi chains. He persuaded his family to turn part of their huge property into a catering hall. He says, "Now it's a very popular place though they probably thought 'Saamp hamare gale me dal gaya' - put so much work on us!'" About five years ago Khanna left Amritsar for the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and studied and worked his way through.
Little India asked Khanna for his most outrageous recipes. He was known for his Valentine's Day dinners with aphrodisiac-inspired meals, with oysters and a dessert of rose ice-cream in a bowl of ice with rose petals embedded in it, and laced with caramelized cardamom-scented chips. He recalls once going into the restroom to find a man on his cell phone, shouting his lungs out: "I take this girl for Valentine's Dinner, I pay $200 and all she wants to know is who made the dessert!"
Rose Ice-Cream served in Ice-Bowls
Rose Water is a clear liquid, distilled from fresh rose petals, available at specialty stores and Indian grocery stores. A very exotic ice-cream which can be served at any occasion, served in ice-bowls.
275 ml whole milk
4 large egg yolks
110 gm superfine sugar
284 ml heavy cream
3 tablespoons rose water
1. Heat the milk slowly in a pan to boiling point.
2. Meanwhile in a bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until smooth and foamy; pour the heated milk over the egg mixture, beating all the time.
Return the mixture to pan and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it thickens slightly to form a coating over the back of the spoon (do not let it boil).
3. Transfer the mixture into a chilled bowl to cool. Refrigerate for up to 3 hours, remembering to stir the mixture from time to time. When cool, stir in to the mixture the cream and rosewater.
4. Transfer the complete mixture into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
5. Scoop the ice-cream and place it in unmolded ice-bowls and serve chilled.
These bowls only seem complicated - they are actually very easy to make and fun to design. They can even be made weeks in advance and kept frozen. Make sure that the rose petals are free from pesticides and clean.
2 glass bowls with a size difference of 1 to 2 inches
masking tape or rubber band
1. Start by placing a few petals on the bottom of the larger bowl. Place some crushed ice and make a base for the smaller bowl and place the smaller bowl inside the larger bowl, center, and slowly fill the space between the two with water. Add more petals in any pattern you like and push them down into the space, or crevice.
2. Secure the smaller bowl in the center of the larger bowl, using a strip of masking tape across the lip edges of both bowls to ensure that the smaller stays centered. Place bowls in freezer until frozen, about 4 hours.
3. Secure the position with a masking tape or a rubber band. When that freezes, add more water, filling to just below the lip of the smaller bowl, and refreeze. Remove bowls from freezer, and let stand for about 5 minutes. When the ice has loosened from the glass, remove tape and lift out the smaller bowl. Remove "ice bowl" from larger glass bowl, and return it to freezer until ready to use.