Until now a kitchen has been earmarked as a woman’s territory where no male ever dare put his little toe in. But with time, these lines are slowly blurring and now we see that not only do men enter the kitchen to make that mandatory morning cuppa but also to cook a full meal. And as women balance both work and home men too are taking equal responsibility.
Earlier what was considered ‘not so cool’ to be found in the kitchen, men are now donning the chef’s hat at home and cooking for themselves, their family and friends. Seeing a man in an apron is no longer a rare sight. In fact, some of the country’s finest actors are super cooks. Akshay Kumar began life as a chef and can whip up the yummiest Thai food. He has also been a host of Master Chef India. Whilst a lot many are aware that Akshay is a good cook not many know that even Abhishek Bachchan is a good cook. And he has gone a step further and even become the face of a home appliance along with his wife Aishwarya. Whilst Ajay Devgan may be known for all the macho roles he does on the big screen, he is equally adept at playing the perfect cook at home. He has said in an interview that cooking relaxes him and he can cook anything from Mughlai to Chinese food. Whilst Maria Goretti is the one to have launched a cookbook she confesses that her husband is a super cook as well. She says he can cook the most amazing biryani and has often cooked for his kids.
Gone are the days when only women attended cookery workshops. Now more and more men are attending cookery classes or workshops. With both men and women living away from home for work or education, basic knowledge of cooking is a must. And going a step ahead, many men have begun to participate in cookery contests and shows on TV as well. In fact, now men are learning to cook to impress. Women too are happy when they get to know a man can cook. And to add to this a man is no longer just helping with the dishes after the meal, he is creating some yummy dishes even when they have get-togethers.
Cooking is getting easier to learn than before. Home chefs now can cook with a smartphone or even from a Facebook or YouTube video. And then put their own video up as well for others to admire. Cooking at home is also a more affordable option considering the leap in rates when eating out.
Cocktail Zindagi met up with some of our male actors who are proud of the fact that they can cook and don’t shy away from entering the kitchen. We enter some such kitchens to taste see what’s cooking there.
Bhakhtiyar started to cook when he was just 13. “I started so early as I would sit in the kitchen watching my mum cook so that I could avoid homework!”
Bhakhtiyar Irani who was last seen in the show ‘Badi Dooooor Se Aaye Hai’ is a popular face on the small screen. Married to actress Tanaaz, both were seen doing reality shows like Nach Baliye and Bigg Boss. Now settled in Dubai where they run a dance academy, Bhakhtiyar loves to cook. “Cooking is fun and therapeutic. I cook for anyone who is looking for good food at my place,” he says. “Cooking is not a necessity for me. I do it out of choice. I am a very organized cook and I can’t see the kitchen shabby. All that I use has to be put back in its place.”
So does Bhakhtiyar follow a recipe book or refers to the net when cooking? “I don’t go by anyone’s cooking. I have my own style of cooking. My mum is an average cook but my wife Tanaaz is a great cook (only when she wants to cook). But the secret is Bhakhtiyar gives her tuitions! (jokes)”
So what’s his best dish? “Everything that is good food is the best dish, if you cook anything purely out of love and passion and not compulsion, trust me it will turn out to be the best dish you ever cooked.”
Sharing a cooking experience he says, “When I was on a diet I made the best food ever. But I feel the women in my house get jealous so I cook less.”
For this actor, writer and poet cooking is a stress buster. “All men should cook”, he begins. “Whether they are bachelors or married they should know how to cook. In fact now when a girl and a boy meet for a matrimonial purpose, she should ask him if he can cook! Some of the world’s best chefs are male and we too should not shy away from entering our kitchens.”
Dilip started his experiments with cooking ever since he was a school going, kid. “I come from a conservative Brahmin family where certain traditions are strictly followed. So on the days when my mum couldn’t cook I stepped into the kitchen. It started with the basics and now I can cook a full meal. In fact, now when my wife goes to her mum’s place I cook for our kids. She isn’t ever worried how we will manage without her. Though now I mostly cook only for pleasure. I enjoy cooking and unlike many who say they don’t like to eat their own cooked meals, I enjoy my own food. I feel there is no better cook than me.”
Dilip is a hands-on cook and even helps his wife when they have people over for a meal. So like a lot of males who need an assistant to chop up and then clean the mess left behind is he a messy cook?
“In fact, I am a very tidy cook and clean and clear the kitchen platform prior and post my cooking. Very often after I have finished eating I opt to make hot rotis for my wife and after I am done clean up the mess as well. I don’t like to leave an untidy kitchen even for the maid.”
Talking about a feel-good cooking experience the multi-talented Dilip says, “Way back in 2007 I had gone to USA where I lived with an old college friend Pulkit and his wife in Boston. Since both of them were working they would buy made rotis or parathas from a neighbour. So when I went they would buy these rotis that were made the previous day which I would eat for lunch. By the time I had them they would be rubbery and as they were the thick ones I had a tough time chewing on them. Therefore one day after they left for work I entered their kitchen and cooked an entire meal of rotis, aloo sabji, kadhi and lachko dal. When they returned I served them a piping hot meal which had them both in tears. They said they hadn’t eaten a fresh hot meal in a long time.”
Dilip says he is very good at making the best from waste and no leftovers are ever thrown in the bin. “If there is leftover rice I make muthiyas and if there are stale rotis I make masala chaas and add the pieces of the roti to it and garnish it with some great seasoning.“
Dilip shares his favourite recipe of pani puri ka pani which he says is unparalleled to any.
Take 1 litre drinking water and add an equal amount of crushed fudina (mint leaves) and fresh coriander leaves. Add the paste of 4 green chillies, 2-3 freshly pound peppercorns, black salt, a pinch of cumin powder. Add tamarind pulp and salt to taste. Churn this in a mixer and chill it. Serve it topped with salted boondi.
Chandan Roy Sanyal
After graduating with a degree in mathematics, he made his acting debut in the 2006 film Rang de Basanti, in a minor role. He then received critical acclaim for his supporting roles in the 2009 caper thriller film Kaminey and now Chef with Saif Ali Khan. Playing the role of Nuzroon in Chef Chandan was born and brought up in Delhi but hails from a Bengali family.
“I started cooking when I came to Mumbai a few years ago and didn’t even know what to cook and where to start. To put it simply I didn’t know how to cook at all! We were all staying together so we had to take turns at cooking but as I didn’t know to cook I was assigned the task of washing the utensils. I hated it and hence decided that I should learn to cook if I wanted to avoid this. I slowly learned to cook and now am quite good at it”, says the actor.
“Cooking now means sharing a part of your life with someone else. It is how your mother cooks, feeds you and brings you up. Though it began as a necessity for me, now it’s also my choice.“
Chandan like the rest of our celeb cooks is an organized cook and is very clean and tidy in the kitchen. “I am a very organized cook and I keep everything I need ready in front of me before I commence my cooking. And since I am a cleanliness freak so the moment I finish I clean up immediately.”
Does he refer to cookbooks for recipes or fall back on his mum’s recipes? “I don’t have a wife but I don’t even follow my mum’s cooking as I have lived away from her for a long time now. But whenever she comes to visit me she cooks me my favourite dishes.”
Most Bengalis swear by aloo posto and so does Chandan. A staple in Bengali households, Aloo posto is a simple dish made with spiced potatoes and poppy seeds. “I can cook aloo posto really well and I love eating it as well.”
Talking about his culinary experiences the actor says, “I have had a lot of interesting cooking experiences and have some of the best experiences when I was travelling with the cast for plays. We indulged in feasts like anything! “
But I had the finest experience when working on a food film like Chef. “Being a chef in a food film was enriching as I love food. As a character, I could bring on a lot of food experiences. Moreover working with Saif Ali Khan was very satisfying. Portraying a chef in the film I could show a lot of love and kindness food brings to the eater.”
Karan was often seen in the kitchen at just the age of 14. “I used to help my sister cook,” he informs. Karan Sharma who has graced television shows like Baa Bahu Aur Baby, Bandini, Pavitra Rishta and Kaala Teeka.
Talking of his fondness for cooking he informs, “Nobody ever forced me to cook. I cook out of choice and cooking is an art for me. It gives me immense pleasure to cook and more so when people compliment me for my food. I normally cook for the family and at times for friends who insist on sampling my specialities.”
A very organized cook Karan too doesn’t leave the kitchen messy for servants to clean up later neither does he insist on having an assistant to chop and clean for him before he starts. He preps himself and once done leaves the kitchen as though no one had used it.
“Interestingly I learned to cook from my father as I was mostly with him in my childhood days. He was in the army and in order that I got a good education he would take me with him wherever he was posted. He would teach me to study as well as to cook,” he says proudly.
Karan makes some yummy North Indian style food and his North Indian dahi curry is finger licking. “This curry made out of dahi and besan to which onion or potato pakodas are added is my favourite.”
Talking about an interesting culinary experience, Karan says, “Recently I had a few guests from Jaipur. I went all out to make them a super extensive meal. They were so surprised to see that I could cook so many delicacies that they couldn’t stop praising me. I was over the moon by their compliments. It is such experiences that motivate me to keep cooking”, says the proud actor.
The actor shares his recipe of the curry for our readers.
Take Besan – 200gm
Curd – 500gm (better if it is a little sour)
Oil or ghee as per your choice for tadka
Salt as per taste
One spoon red chilli (we eat less spicy)
One spoon Haldi
And 1 litre water.
Take a kadai and keep it on the gas stove. Put ghee and let it heat up a little bit…then put Jeera and garlic and after that add sliced onions followed by kadi patta. Fry until it becomes golden brown. After that mix Besan and curd together and then pour it in a kadai, then put 1-litre water and add salt, chilly and Haldi. Let it cook for 20 to 30 mins on low gas flame. Keep checking if it requires more water, then you can put a little water according to the thickness of curry you want (we prefer it a little thick and not watery). And after 30 mins your north Indian curry is ready to serve.
The actor who was last seen in Nagarjuna-Ek Yodha has been recognized for his roles in shows like Uttran and Bandini. Mrunal not only enjoys cooking but experiments a lot with food. He doesn’t ever refer to cookbooks for recipes; Mrunal creates his own recipes. “I started to cook my own food as it was paapi pet ka sawal! Ever since I was a kid I always wanted to cook. Though my mum never encouraged me to do so as I was a pampered kid but I always ended up cooking for myself. As a school going kid it started with making sandwiches. I am a foodie and hence like to cook what I want to eat.
Though largely it’s my mum and wife who cook at home, I do step in at times. I know much more than the basics and love to experiment with recipes and new ingredients. Like when I make oats… generally one has oats in hot milk but I have mine chilled and with a twist. I deep freeze the oats soaked in milk to which I add honey and saffron. This gives it a rabdi kind of taste.
Let me share a unique tip for a pizza with my readers. I am a Jain so have a lot of Jain food. I, therefore, make a tofu pizza. I use wheat pizza base and layer it with pasta sauce. Top it with corn, capsicum and onions (for my non-jain readers). Instead of cheese, I top it with shredded tofu and it becomes a Margherita pizza. You may add a bit of cheese.”
Mrunal has some great cooking tips and says he adds tofu to the paratha dough and makes patties for his burger out of quinoa, soybean and potatoes. He shallow fries this in olive oil.
“I rarely cook nowadays but when I do I am a very clean cook. I never mess-up the kitchen and I clean before and after I start and finish. The cooking platform is like my play station. I like it clean. I have often cooked for the media when they drop by and they love the suji halwa and tofu poha with shredded panner that I make.”
Mrunal gives yet some more interesting tips. Add vanilla ice cream to an oats porridge and freeze it. Whenever you crave for cheese opt for tofu!
Mrunal’s healthy breakfast recipe:
Normally people either eat only muesli, oats or some porridge. But I have a healthy mix of all.
Take 5 tsp of oats
5 tsp of muesli
5 tsp of cornflakes
Add a scoop of protein powder and blend it all with some milk.
This is not only yummy in taste it has all vital nutrients and hence very healthy.
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