For consumer knowledge expert, Vispy Doctor, cooking is destressing. “He wooed me with this dish that you’ll taste today,” says his wife. The dish is akuri, essentially a Parsi breakfast dish made with eggs.
“If one really want to get offensive — to Parsi sensibilities — call it scrambled egg or bhurjee,” Doctor tells us. With nearly 300 gigabytes of cookery programmes stored on his laptop, and his new mobile phone, Doctor admits that he rarely gets the time to whip up delicacies in the kitchen.
For someone whose job is to build brands, Doctor stresses that a good brand-building — or re-building — exercise should focus on the right ingredients. “Our job is to study consumers and understand what they want. In that sense communication with the consumer and the brand is the key,” he says, while he readies himself in the kitchen. His professional parlance finds a place in the kitchen too where a simple egg dish gets its flavours from the exact ingredients added to it.
“What people need today,” he says, while doing a final check on the ingredients, “aren’t just products. They crave for brands.” One of his latest projects is Bollywood ka Boss, a show which will claim to find the biggest Bollywood buff. The show will be anchored on Filmy, a movie channel, by actor Boman Irani. Doctor’s also working closely with Ness Wadia on his forthcoming retail venture and has done popular campaigns for brands such as Asian Paints, Ambuja Cement and Nokia.
The talk oscillates between brand-building and more Parsi food. “What’s unique about Parsi food?” I ask him. He replies, “It’s mostly non-vegetarian.” His son, who has also joined his father’s company, Ormax, adds, “We rarely have recipes that don’t have eggs.” Doctor’s favourite recipe, besides the traditional akuri, includes dhandal pattio, a rice preparation with tuvar lentils and fish.
“Most of the flavours of Parsi food ooze with roasted jeera (cumin) and garlic,” he informs me. Dhansak, one of the best-known dishes to come out of any Parsi house, comprising of mutton, five varieties of lentils, seven types of vegetables and 25 ingredients (“I counted them,” says his wife) is “ideal for a Sunday afternoon”, says Doctor.
As Doctor speaks of his challenging assignments, including rebuilding the Cadbury’s brand after the worms controversy, or repositioning Thums-Up when it re-entered the Indian market, we seat ourselves in the dining room of his plush house overlooking Aishwarya-Abhishek Bachchan’s house.
“I was a Boy Scout and since we camped a lot I created dishes despite not having a functional kitchen or even the required ingredients,” he says, covering his kadak pao generously with butter. “Don’t ignore the butter. Dip this buttered pao into Parsi tea and you’ll know how flavours contribute to enjoying food.”
It’s a taste that lingers long after I’ve had my sumptuous morning meal.