Who were the cooking Masters (MasterChefs) from Epic Mahabharata and what are their stories. Where one can find their stories ?

2 Answers 2


1. Nala

Nala, the ruler of the Nishadas was a splendid cook and a master in managing steeds and driving chariots. He was in a disguise in the court of King Rituparna. His story was narrated to Yudhishtira by sage Brihadashwa during his exile.

It can be found in the Nalopakhyana parva of Vana Parva of the Mahabharata. The narration of the story begins in the chapter 53 and continued for several chapters. King Nala was living in a disguised form as Bahuka. He introduces himself as Bahuka, a culinary expert and master in managing steeds. He introduces himself as following.

'After the snake had vanquished, Nala, the ruler of the Nishadhas, proceeded, and on the tenth day entered the city of Rituparna. And he approached the king, saying, 'My name is Vahuka. There is no one in this world equal to me in managing steeds. My counsel also should be sought in matters of difficulty and in all affairs of skill. I also surpass others in the art of cooking. In all those arts that exists in this world, and also in every thing difficult of accomplishment, I will strive to attain success, O Rituparna, do thou maintain me.'

2. Bhimasena

Bhimasena, the second Pandava was also skilful in culinary art. It is widely known that when each of the Pandavas chose to live in a disguise during their one year exile, Bhima lived as a cook in Virata's Kitchen by the name Vallabha. This can be found in the chapter 2 of Virata Parva.

Before entering into the Kingdom of Virata, all the Pandavas discuss how they should live in the palace. Bhima says about his skills in cooking.

Bhima said, "I intend to present myself before the lord of Virata as a cook bearing the name of Vallabha. I am skilled in culinary art, and I shall prepare curries for the king, and excelling all those skilful cooks that had hitherto dressed his food I shall gratify the monarch. And I shall carry mighty loads of wood. And witnessing that mighty feat, the monarch will be pleased. And, O Bharata, beholding such superhuman feats of mine, the servants of the royal household will honour me as a king. And I shall have entire control over all kinds of viands and drinks. And commanded to subdue powerful elephants and mighty bulls, I will do as bidden. And if any combatants will fight with me in the lists, then will I vanquish them, and thereby entertain the monarch. But I shall not take the life of any of them. I shall only bring them down in such way that they may not be killed. And on being asked as regards my antecedent I shall say that--Formerly I was the wrestler and cook of Yudhishthira. Thus shall I, O king, maintain myself."

Just as he planned earlier, he enters the Virata delivers what was planned.

From chapter 8 of Virata Parva,

Then the high-souled son of Pandu, approaching Virata, addressed him in words that were not unsuited to his object, saying, 'O foremost of kings, I am a cook, Vallava by name. I am skilled in dressing dishes. Do thou employ me in the kitchen!'"

Vaisampayana continued, "Thus appointed in the kitchen, Bhima soon became the favourite of king Virata. And, O king, he continued to live there unrecognised by the other servants of Virata as also by other people!"

  • How do you know they were not lying to get the job? Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 18:52
  • Well, I added what Bhima said in the private meeting of the Yudhishtira. He definitely doesn't want to lie before his elder brother. The skills of Nala's managing steeds, driving chariots are given in other parvas also. He also cooked meat in many vessels. So, he was an expert too. @sv. Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 18:56
  • "I am skilled in culinary art..", "I am skilled in dressing dishes...", "I also surpass others in the art of cooking..." -- all these are self-certifications. Maybe you can to find some references that validates their claims...imagine yourself going to a restaurant upon a friend's recommendation, would you rather leave a positive review for the restaurant before hand (based on your friends assurances) or do it after trying the food once? Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 22:24

Nala is a culinary expert who is the king of Nishadha.and Bhimasena was a very good cook like Nala.He spent his last year of exile in the kingdom of Virata.(Virata Parva,Mahabharata) He disguised himself as a cook named Vallabh.Bhima is believed to be the first to have cooked the famous dish ''Aviyal''.

  • Nala is in-fact crater of Jilebi and there is famous love-story of Nala and Damayanti also... Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 12:54

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