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Minestrone with a dash of metal
A novel online cookery show called 'Headbanger's Kitchen' brings Indian rockstars and food together
Brian Manowitz is a man who sports black nail polish. As a set of candles light up a dim backdrop, the American seats himself on a tall black throne, holds up a skull wand and says things like, "The court is in session now" and "Bring forth the defendants of gluttony". What he means is, "Welcome to my cookery show. " Then, he proceeds to recite an entire vegan recipe in the fashion of a heavy metal vocalist. His guttural narration coupled with the incessant drumming in the background makes even the simple process of preparing nachos seem dramatic;and somehow, illegal.
Sahil Makhija, on the other hand, does not do any of the above. But the Mumbaibased bass guitarist is the closest India comes to Manowitz, host of the popular online show "Black Metal Vegan Chef". For a year and a half, the pony-tailed, cherubic Makhija, who wears spectacles, sports a goatee and is given to frequently folding his hands over his chest, has been anchoring a unique online cookery show called 'Headbanger's Kitchen'.
In the show, which is far from vegan, the 29-year-old member of the band Demonic Ressurection not only teaches the recipes for items such as 'bhayanak bacon bomb' but also uses them as bait to lure rock bands over for an informal chat. Here, while sampling his food items such as cheesy potatoes and meatzza, his guests, who prefer to address him by his nickname 'Demonstealer', also banter about things musical.
While his show features both international and Indian bands, Makhija's easy rapport with the local musicians is palpable. "I know most of the local musicians and have seen them grow up, almost, so it's like a casual conversation, " he says. There's room for friendly swearing and even impromptu songs such as Scribe vocalist Vishwesh Krishnamurthy's "Who gives a fork?" inspired by a bite of a "provocative" chicken breast with "lemony nipples".
With international acts such as the UAE band Nervecell and Australian band Karnivool, Makhija just makes sure "I know what I'm talking about. I try to keep the interviews more casual and less technical, " says the 29-year-old, who was really nervous around his drum hero George Kollias: "the first real 'rock star' that I interviewed".
The idea also is, of course, to increase awareness about the Indian metal scene. And that aficionados like to eat too. Makhija, who is well aware of the popular stereotypes associated with rock fans - sex, drugs and alcohol - clarifies, "we are nice people who just listen to different music than you and occasionally make a phone call to Satan for a pep talk. "
The inspiration for his show comes from others like 'Epic Meal Time' and videos of chefs like Jamie Oliver, Heston, Marco and Gordon Ramsey, whose recipes he adapts to suit his tastebuds. This is why, in recipes such as the popular bacon bomb, you will find personal touches such as a hint of basil in the pork mince. "My girlfriend is also an inspiration as she'll find something she wants to eat and we'll cook it together, " says Makhija, who says his favourite dish is a nice juicy medium tender beef steak, though he secretly loves bread more than anything else.
While metal may have entered Makhija's life almost by force when he was in school ("my friends bullied me into listening to Metallica and Iron Maiden" ), his affair with food was more natural. He's been fond of cooking since childhood and even had aspirations to enter the hospitality industry. In fact, his mother often likes to recall how the ten-year-old Makhija prepared breakfast (mostly eggs) for a group of 13 people on a family holiday once.
In 2007 he started doing a food blog on his Facebook profile. After uploading about 22 recipes, "I was keen to make videos of the same since it was getting quite a bit of positive feedback, " says Makhija, who approached Srinivas Sunderrajan from the band Scribe who had shot the music video for his own band Demonic Resurrection to ask if he'd produce the show. Some brainstorming later, they figured out the concept for 'Headbanger's Kitchen', a name thought up by the keyboard player of Demonic Resurrection, Mephisto.
Cooking for Makhija is his time off from music. "I have worked on music day in and day out, so for the last two years I don't actually listen to much music when I have free time, " he says. However, he does like the sounds of meat sizzling on the frying pan or the knife cutting through the onion flesh.
Makhija, who is now planning to upload the show once every month, is not sure how far it has helped shatter stereotypes about metal and does not bother much about it. However, every now and then, he is pleasantly surprised when a fellow metalhead turns to him and says, "My mother watches your show. "
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