Singer Sukhwinder Singh rustles up the flavours of Punjab
When singer Sukhwinder Singh decided to cook a meal in his kitchen, the result was some earthy recipes that reflect the melody of Indian villages. We joined the singer in his kitchen at his home for a culinary experience as Sukhwinder tells us...
Sukhwinder Singh, who cooks when he is in the mood, kneads the dough for making the kulcha.Pics/Nimesh Dave
When in mood
I love to cook occasionally. When the mood strikes, I can cook some wonderful dishes like chicken palak, lemon chicken, aloo gobi and stuffed kulchas. I can only cook Indian dishes though. In fact, I have invited people such as Dharmendraji and Asha Bhonsleji over lunch and cooked for them.
I prefer homemade food by my Man Friday, Mani. I call him the best cook in the world. He makes the most amazing dals which I want every day. If I have to go to a restaurant, I prefer eating seafood. Abroad, I like to eat the food of the region, it’s a wonderful change from the routine. Though I feel, people in the West eat more fat than us, it is prepared in a more hygienic manner than most of our restaurants. When in the US, I like eating Mexican food which has a similar taste to Indian food. But in Europe, it becomes difficult, as the food there is bland.
It has got to be the kulche-chole that the local kulchawalas sell in Delhi. Whenever, I am in the capital, I make it a point to stop at a roadside kulchawala. I also like the occasional pav bhaji and vada pav. But my absolute favourite is eating fresh bhutta (corn) that is steamed in salt and chaat masala powder. Healthy, hygienic and tasty, it is one snack I can gorge on any time.
What a pie
One food that I must share is this pie of kulcha and chole. It is cooked in minimal oil, but is extremely tasty. There are at least three layerings of kulche over chole. Amchur, green chillies, onion, mint leaves and coriander is used for garnishing. Lemon juice on top of it completes the garnishing. This is left for two hours for all the ingredients to mix well. It is then cut in slices and relished as a complete meal.
A sweet tooth
My all-time favourite is phirni made in earthen pots. Also, we have the suji ka halwa made every Monday as prasad. It is very rich, with dry fruits added to it. I can polish off a huge quantity at one go.
I start my day with dry fruits such as walnuts and almonds soaked overnight. Along with it, I have an apple and an amla that has been cooked for three minutes. The idea is to eat the apple and amla together to dilute the very sour taste of amla which is packed with Vitamin C. If I still feel hungry, I eat whites of two eggs. Lunch begins with a soup— tomato or clear soup. This I follow with rotis and dal. My favourite is the arhar dal which is semi cooked. There can be some non-veg dishes too. I make it a point to eat well in the afternoon because I go very light on my dinner. Dinner is usually a soup or salad. If I feel like eating roti-sabzi, then I eat it before eight in the evening. As I practice yoga, I follow its ritual which says that one must drink at least two glasses of water before dinner to digest food well in the night.
I swear by organic food. In my house, guests are welcomed with a glass of chaas (buttermilk) in summer. It is cooling for the body and is absolutely natural without any artificial colour or flavour. It is also very economical. One cup of curd will make several glasses of buttermilk. It is something that the rich and poor consume. Ajwain is another wonder ingredient which I like in my food. It is helpful in digestion of food. I prefer cow’s ghee in my food because it has only 20 per cent fat as compared to other ghees and oils. It is also good for the bones and gives a natural glow to the skin.
'Fan' tastic food times
Most of the time, I am treated to the special cuisines at my fans’ homes when I go out of town to perform. Served with love, they are the tastiest meals. I keep myself hungry the whole day because they end up feeding me more than I can eat at dinner.
I hate the term ‘ordering’ for food. I like to ‘request’ for my meals from the chef and invariably they send their best dishes to me.
>> Wheat dough
>> Carom seeds (Ajwain)
>> Black salt
Take a small portion of dough on your palm. Pat both sides with some dry atta and roll out the roti. Add some ajwain and ghee and roll it up. Again make a roti of it. Now on a pre-heated tawa, cook it on slow simmer. Turn it over. Again let it cook on slow flame. Once the kulcha is done, on the sides apply ghee. When done, smear it with lemon pickle. Wrap it in a foil paper and crush it. Now the ajwain kulcha is ready to eat.
>> One cup curd
>> 7 cups water
>> Jeera masala
>> Black salt
>> Mint leaves
>> Coriander leaves
In a container, add the curd and water and beat them well. Add the jeera masala and rock salt. Add finely chopped mint and coriander leaves.
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