Like her trademark masala movies in which there is something for everyone, Farah Khan feels Indian cuisine, due to its sheer variety, can also cater to all palates. She describes herself as a hardcore non-vegetarian. "When you say biryani it means mutton or chicken," she says.
Farah Khan will display her cooking skills in her new culinary show, Farah Ki Daawat. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
For the filmmaker, there is no such thing as a vegetable biryani. "You can’t call it biryani then," she says emphatically. At the moment she is on a weight-loss mission. "On screen, you look much larger than you are. After Bigg Boss, I am now hosting my new culinary show, Farah Ki Daawat, so I am trying to appear in shape," she says.
Making food and movies are her passion. She has been cooking since she was a teenager and feels that cooking is all about "haath ka kamaal" as it’s inbuilt — either you have it in you, or you don’t. She reveals certain peculiar food habits of hers.
I was never a breakfast person, but now that I am on a diet, I have to follow what my dietician Pooja Makhija tells me. As soon as I brush my teeth, I have a biscuit or fruit followed by egg white omelette or cereals. I have to keep eating every two hours. I am not a coffee person, I like tea. I have a cup of regular tea, not green or black tea. I am not into fruit juices either and thankfully I don’t have a sweet tooth.
Right now, all my food is cooked without oil, so whether it is vegetable, chicken, fish or chapati it’s oil-free. People say avoid white bread, eat brown bread. Avoid white rice, eat brown rice, but bread is bread and rice is rice whatever the colour of it. Next month, I plan to go on a family vacation when my kids (Anya, Diva and Czar) have an Easter break. That’s when I will let myself go. Currently my diet goes haywire during the shoot of my culinary show when I have to taste what the star guests have whipped up. I waited till Happy New Year was wrapped up to embark on my getting fit drive. Otherwise, my cast and crew would have had to bear the onslaught of a hungry director.
On the sets
When I am shooting for a film, I ensure that every week the caterer changes. If you have the same stuff throughout, boredom sets in. So one week it will be Malvani specialities, the next will by Chinese and then South Indian fare. This way, the cast and crew look forward to what’s coming up next on their plate. The crew needs to be well-fed to bear with me. Most stars also carry their lunchboxes on sets, but one star whose box has not changed for over 20 years of knowing him is that of Shah Rukh Khan. His dabba will only have grilled chicken/roti or sometimes cutlets and pasta.
Pots and pans
I learnt to cook from my paternal grandmother. She was excellent and enjoyed cooking. On special occasions, she would start early morning and the whole building would know what she was cooking from the fragrances that wafted through. As my mother’s side was Parsi, I know about their cuisine well. Who can resist Patra Ni Machhi, Dhansak and Salli Boti? During my student days, I was a street food junkie. I suffered from jaundice thrice. From the vada pavs to the sandwiches to the dosas, I survived on street food. I still recall eating from stalls near Azad Maidan. When I began doing choreography, I travelled all over the world for the shoots, but would still pine for Indian food.
I recently celebrated the birthdays of my kids at home. The party began at 11 am and went on till almost 8 pm. The kids tell me this is some sort of record for a children’s birthday party. First, they were in the swimming pool and had a brunch. It was almost 3 pm when they came out of the pool after which they had lunch while their moms had foot massages and tarot card reading sessions. It was followed by a screening of Happy New Year. I want my kids to explore all kinds of cuisine. I take them out to eat once a week. As my husband (Shirish Kunder) is Mangalorean, he’s partial to seafood, so I make sure they get a taste of all cuisines.
Board game nights
When I host my board game nights the dining table is laden with food. There will be fish, chicken and mutton dishes. The guests include Bollywood as well as my non-film pals. Bollywood’s three hottest girls — Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone and Malaika Arora Khan — have large appetites. It is shocking to see how much they eat. Malaika loves my yakhni pulao and always carries a takeaway. She has three of my pressure cookers with her, which she has not yet returned. I am very middle-class when it comes to collecting my dabba, baatli and bartans.
Help at hand
Though I have my staff, I still go to the Four Bungalows market in Andheri to buy fish. I also personally pick up my monthly household stuff from Star Bazaar. I frequent Nature’s Basket as I like the variety of fruits and cheeses besides the turkey slices. One of my earlier cooks was Basant Prajapati who was an Indian Idol contestant in 2005. He came to Mumbai to be a singer but ended up becoming a cook at my place.
Any party at Farah Khan’s home is incomplete without this dish.
> 1/2 kg mutton
> 1/2 kg Basmati rice
> 3 onions sliced
> 3 large potates cut into large cubes
> 250 gms yoghurt whipped
> 3 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
> 5-6 whole Kashmiri red chillies
> 4-5 cardamoms
> 2 inch cinnamon sticks
> 6-7 cloves
> 6-7 black pepper
> 1 teaspoon chilli powder
> Oil or ghee for frying
> Salt to taste
Marinate the meat in yoghurt and keep aside. Then fry the onions till golden brown in a cooker. Add ginger-garlic paste, whole spices. Fry for a few minutes and then add the potato pieces. Add the marinated meat and let it cook till five whistles. Let it cool till the cooler lid can be opened. Add the rice and cook for another three whistles. Serve with raita.