The news that the sleepy town of Lahli would play host to Sachin Tendulkar in his final Ranji Trophy match sent the officials of the Haryana town into a tizzy. Where would he stay? What would he eat? Their panic was understandable. After all, this was a town which did not even have a four-star hotel, and it was slated to host a player of Tendulkar’s stature who was accustomed to living in five-star hotels and eating cuisines prepared by some of the best chefs in the world. So, the hotel where the Mumbai Ranji team was supposed to be put up hired four specialist chefs. A chef from Delhi’s ITC Maurya was also reportedly hired specially to prepare food for Tendulkar. Surprisingly, what caught the fancy of the batting maestro’s tastebuds were the baajre ki roti, aloo gobhi and lassi thatare typical fare at every Haryanvi household.
While the Little Master’s down-to-earth food preferences may come as a surprise to some, those who have known him for many years reveal that the batsman is not a fussy eater. Back in his school days, his favourite snack was bhel, which he ate everyday. He also enjoyed chana dal with lime and vada pav. “Sachin prefers homemade food. But he is not too choosy when it comes to food. Since he travels so much, he likes to taste new cuisines and experiment with food. He especially loves Japanese food and sushi (small balls of vinegar-flavoured cold rice garnished with raw seafood or vegetables) and sashimi (thinly-sliced raw seafood) are his favourites,” said Paras Mhambrey, Tendulkar’s long-time friend and former Mumbai teammate.
Sushi and sashimi apart, Tendulkar’s love for seafood has been well documented. He loves the prawns and the fish curry his mother Rajni makes. He even once tried to get India teammate Suresh Raina to taste sushi and sashimi at a Japanese restaurant. However, his favourite meal after a long tour is the varan bhaat his mother makes with a bit of ghee and lemon. In fact, Tendulkar likes it so much that he even instructed his cook to learn exactly how to make the dishes from his mother.
Open to experimenting
When he is not at home, Tendulkar has no qualms about trying different cuisines, be it Lebanese, Ethiopian, Caribbean, Chinese, Thai or Malaysian. Not many know that in the crunch 2003 World Cup match against Pakistan, Tendulkar skipped lunch and instead devoured a large bowl of ice-cream right before his whirlwind knock of 98 runs from 75 balls against the feared bowling trio of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar. India won that match by six wickets while Tendulkar was adjudged man of the match for his knock. So is there anything that Tendulkar, a self-confessed foodie, does not like? “Snails. I’ve tried snails which were a little bit difficult to digest. It had garlic sauce along with it. I forced my wife also to try it. It wasn’t too good,” Tendulkar had said a year ago at the launch of a food book ‘Cooking on the Run’. It was this love for food that made the Little Master launch two outlets in Mumbai -- Tendulkar’s at Colaba and Sachin’s at Mulund. While both the outlets shut shop a few years after being launched, the batsman’s love for food continues unabated.
Sachin the cook
NOT many people will know that besides eating, Sachin Tendulkar also likes to cook, albeit for a select few. “I do cook sometimes for Anjali (his wife) and for Sara and Arjun (his children). Earlier it was on a regular basis, now it is on special occasions. I cook dishes like fish curry and prawn masala which I have learnt from my mother. Cooking is a great way to relax,” Tendulkar had said last year. Tendulkar had even cooked baingan ka bharta for the entire Indian team at Ajay Jadeja’s house once.