A self-taught cook, actor Gaurav Khanna’s culinary journey started from a basic desire to eat home-style North Indian food in Mumbai. In 10 years, he has mastered quite a few dishes and is eager to learn more. He shares his pindi chole and lachcha paratha recipe with us over a yummy evening.
Actor Gaurav Khanna dishes out some yummy Pindi Chole at his Malad residence. Pics/Sayed Sameer Abedi
On my plate
As a North Indian, I have grown up on Mughlai and Punjabi food, which is loaded with oil, ghee and butter. Milk, fruit juices and dairy products were also part of the diet. I love milk. If someone offers me a milkshake at a party where everyone is boozing away, I will be the happiest. My favourite dish is butter chicken. I can eat dal makhni and laccha paratha three times a day, seven days a week. I miss the food cooked back home but since I know how to cook, I do indulge myself at times.
Cook it up
When I came to Mumbai, I realised that the local flavours are quite different. It did not suit my taste buds. So, I started cooking and improved by the day. I learnt a lot by observing my mom and relatives in the kitchen. My mom used to instruct me over the phone. When my dishes turned out well, I got the confidence to experiment more. It’s been 10 years of cooking in Mumbai. My first dish was kadhai paneer.
Living in Mumbai has taught me to enjoy seafood. I like fried surmai and prawns. I’ve eaten crabs but they can get really messy. I’ve eaten clams as well. I was not into world cuisine earlier but slowly my palate is evolving. In this city, you meet people with varied tastes and they expose you to new dishes. It’s nice to experience and gain knowledge about different delicacies. I enjoy chicken in every form. Mutton Kheema and Galouti Kebabs are also delicious. I miss the Tunde Ke Kebab that you get in Lucknow. I used to have a lot of those in Kanpur.
I love Pav Bhaji, Bhel Puri, and hot dry garlic chutney, which they put in Vada Pav. There’s this place called Shreedutt near Goregaon station that makes amazing vada pavs. A few days back, I had some delicious prawns in Madh Island that were made by a local. Though I have been to many high-end restaurants that serve the best of world cuisine, I prefer roadside food anyday. I love the Chinese at Bandra’s Mamagoto and the Mughlai at Delhi Darbar. Chawla Dhaba and Urban Tadka are two good eateries in Andheri while Mahesh Lunch Home, Juhu is the best for seafood. For sizzlers, Poptate’s is the best bet.
On a tasty tour
When I was shooting in Hyderabad, I tasted the locally made Mutton Biryani. It was spicy and delicious. Once in Ooty, I had to make do with dosas and rasam, which I totally loved. The Laal Maas made in Udaipur, Rajasthan, is yummy. Delhi’s Connaught Place has a restaurant called Keventers, which I always visit when I am in Delhi. The kebab platter served in the capital’s Kebab Factory is also to die for. In Kanpur, you get amazing Kaju Ki Barfi and Malai Makhan. My mom sends her home-made Besan Ke Laddoo quite often.
On foreign shores
When I visited Hong Kong, I realised that their concept of non-vegetarian food is different from ours. They eat virtually everything, barring humans! I ate fried cockroaches dipped in chocolate. They were quite tasty. I also tasted Snake Soup, which was quite like chicken soup. They also taught me to eat with chopsticks. When I went to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman, I enjoyed the Mutton Biryani, Kebabs and Shawarmas made there. They make some amazing desserts as well.
I prepare Rabri, Sewai and Gajar Ka Halwa at home on festive occasions. In Kanpur, we make Gujias and Barfis on Diwali and Holi. I feel we just need an excuse to eat something sweet. I really miss my mom’s Arhar Ki Dal and Aloo Jeera. Her Aloo Jeera is the best. I feel that simple dishes are the toughest to cook.
>> A medium size bowl of chickpeas (kabuli chana)
>> 4 tbsp desi ghee
>> 1 tsp red chilli powder
>> 2 tsp freshly ground garam masala
>> Pinch of turmeric
>> 3 small tomatoes
>> Salt to taste
>> Coriander powder
>> Green chillies, ginger and garlic
>> Soak the chickpeas overnight in water. Add tea bags in the morning, so that it turns black in colour
>> Pressure cook till 4-5 whistles. Now you have boiled black chole. Throw away the teabags
>> Once you mixed the masala, add ginger, garlic and green chillies cut in juliennes.
>> On the other stove, heat 4 big tbsp of desi ghee. When it’s piping hot, take the ghee and add it to the chole, which are covered with masala. Stir it for five minutes and you are ready with pindi chole. It only takes around 15 minutes.
>> Roll the dough using wheatflour, ajwain and ghee. Add salt to taste. After that, roll them into rotis and heat them on a pan with ghee. Once done, crush them a little, adding some butter on top. Your lachcha paratha is ready. Have it with green pudina chutney.