A self-confessed foodie, Tanishaa Mukerji savours a blend of cuisines
Tanishaa Mukerji savours a blend of Maharashtrian (courtesy her mom Tanuja) and Bengali cuisine (courtesy her dad, the late Shomu Mukerji). Add to it, the Punjabi flavours from her sister Kajol’s hubby Ajay Devgn’s household and her platter is full. She reveals her food habits:
Tanishaa whips up Konkan Prawn Curry in her kitchen. Pics/Satyajit Desai
Tickling the tastebuds
Maharashtrian cuisine ruled at home as I was brought up by my mom. She makes the most amazing Pomfret/Prawn Kaalvan, which has a coconut and tomato curry. She also cooks yummy Bombil (Bombay Duck) and Teesri (clams). My dad never stepped into the kitchen — he just loved eating fish and mutton delicacies. I acquired my love for food from him. I also enjoy Bengali cuisine because of him, though I don’t know how to prepare any.
Legacy of food
In my childhood, we often visted my maternal grandmother (Shobhna Samarth) and great grandmother (Rattan Bai) at their house in Lonavla. Nani would serve us hot jowar bhakris with butter. So, I have had three generations of Maharashtrian women from whom I picked up cooking tips. I would observe my great grandmother who would personally supervise the cooks. I would sit with her and try to make rotis which would invariably be of every shape but round. I learnt to make round aloo and methi parathas when I took part in a reality show. I like cooking non-vegetarian food, especially red meat and fish. I don’t find cooking vegetarian food challenging. I enjoy baking, too, but the sad thing is that we are mostly on a diet. So whom do I feed it to? I would love to feed my cakes and cookies to someone who wouldn’t count the calories it is laden with.
My sister Kajol’s mother-in-law (Veena Devgn) is an amazing cook. I love tucking into her palak parathas and delectable chicken biryani. My brother-in-law (Ajay Devgn) is also a wonderful cook. He is good at making Mutton Khichda, which is an elaborate affair, but he enjoys taking the the effort.
Trial and error
I first started cooking when I was studying in Australia. I would call mom for tips and she would hand the phone to our cook. Once, I asked mom whether I should add water or oil while kneading the dough to make rotis. And both mom and nani started arguing on the phone about it. The anti-climax to the story was that I added oil to the dough and my rotis turned out stiff as ever. My nani had even sent me a pressure cooker to Australia.
While I love cooking, Kajol cannot cook at all. In our younger days, she would make me even boil water for her. But we have similar tastebuds and are both tea and coffee addicts. We also love experimenting with food. I personally love French and Japanese cuisine.
Not for deprivation
I am not the kind of person to deprive myself of food that I crave for. I don’t believe in diets, but eating healthy and working out. For me, the thought of starving oneself to just get into a dress is ridiculous. I like girls who have curvaceous bodies.
I enjoy pani puri at my friend’s house. Cream Centre serves yummy chole bhature and I dig the dosas at Shiv Sagar. I also have a weakness for chocolates and ice-cream. I try to eat everything in moderation. I sometimes get midnight cravings for desserts, but I curb it by having a cup of tea or coffee.
While I was studying in Australia, dad once came over to meet me on my birthday. I took him out for an eight-course meal. And guess what? After the meal, dad asked me, “What are you feeding me? I know you want me to lose weight, but you can’t starve me like this. Let’s go home and have a proper Indian meal.” I was laughing all the way back home. Another wonderful dining experience was in Sydney. The chef was extremely creative, he made a dessert creating an edible foam ball on the outside with a thick chocolate sauce inside. I wondered till the end how a low density foam ball could hold thick chocolate sauce — it tasted heavenly too.
Konkan Prawn Curry
>> 3 medium onions, finely chopped
>> 2 tomatoes, blanched and made into puree
>> 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
>> 200 ml coconut milk
>> ½ kg medium-sized prawns
>> ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
>> ½ tablespoon chilli powder
>> ½ teaspoon each of cumin and coriander powder
>> Coriander to garnish
Marinate the prawns in the ginger-garlic paste, chilli powder, cumin, coriander and turmeric powder and salt. Take some oil in a pan, add onions and sauté till light brown. Now add chilli powder, tomatoes and the remaining ginger garlic paste and fry well. Let it cook for a while before adding the prawns to it. Stir once or twice before adding the coconut milk and put off the gas after just one boil, else the coconut will secrete extra oil. Garnish with coriander.