From pies to payasam, Amy Jackson's love for Indian cuisine

Updated: Jun 15, 2015, 09:35 IST | Shaheen Parkar

Actress Amy Jackson just cannot do without tucking into Indian food even when back home in England

UK import Amy Jackson feels she can now dig into any Indian fare beyond the British obsession of chicken tikka masala and curry. The actress is currently shooting for Prabhu Dheva’s Singh Is Bling which has Akshay Kumar as her co-star. A beauty pageant winner, the youngster was noticed by a Tamil filmmaker. After doing South flicks, she was seen in Ekk Deewana Tha (2012) — her Bollywood debut. Earlier this year, she was seen in the Tamil thriller I with South star Vikram. Amy, who now considers India as her second home, reveals her culinary habits...

Actress Amy Jackson

Dessert island
I’m a big foodie and I like to experiment when it comes to food. I do follow a balanced diet, but if I could get away with it, I would have desserts — morning, noon and night. To ensure that I don’t binge on naughty treats by completely cutting them out of my diet, I allow myself something sweet each day, be it a chocolate bar, ice cream or a slice of cake. I am a chocoholic and can polish off anything and everything that has chocolate within minutes.

Amy Jackson tucks into grilled chicken and seaweed salad
Amy Jackson tucks into grilled chicken and seaweed salad

Daily plate
I like to start my day with a big breakfast. As soon as I wake up, I have a cup of warm water and lemon followed by an ABC (apple beetroot and carrot) juice. I then have a bowl of porridge with honey or Bircher muesli. This muesli is named after a Swiss doctor Maximilian Bircher-Benner, who developed it for patients to get fruits in their diet. They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and Bircher muesli is perfect as it is loaded with apple pieces and pomegranates. This is followed by a portion of eggs for protein intake. For lunch, I tend to go for something light like a chicken salad and a fruit juice. I also include some quinoa or a baked sweet potato for extra energy. I wrap up my evening meal, preferably by around 8 pm. I stay clear of carbs and stick to stuff like grilled fish/chicken, seaweed salad and greens. Lastly, I finish the day with something sweet which has to be chocolatey. I look forward to it the entire day.

On the set
While on shoot, it is unit food or specially ordered tiffin — or a mixture of both. The tiffin usually has grilled fish/chicken and sautéed vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, beans and carrots. This ensures that I get all the goodness and energy I need while shooting. When we are filming in different parts of the country, I do enjoy the local specialities. While shooting in Patiala for Singh is Bling, we would always finish our food with gur parathas which I found to be delicious. For my South film I, we had to shoot extensively in the Hunan province of China, but eating Chinese fare there was a different experience — the local cuisine was hot with lots of chilli peppers.

Hot and spicy
When I first came to India, I was not at all used to the spices, but now I even cook spicy Indian dishes. My favourites include butter chicken, Kerala-style vegetable stew and mutton biryani. As I have shot for several South films and have spent substantial amount of time in Chennai, I am familiar with their local fare. From the creamy curd rice to payasams, I have familiarised myself with their cuisine.

Liverpool league
Back home in Liverpool, I love my mom’s homemade meat pie and gravy. On Sundays, we always have a roast dinner which consists of meat with lots of potatoes. We have a traditional dish called scouse, which is basically a meat stew with potatoes, carrots, onion and spices. We eat this with bread slices. My grandmother had her own version and it was
considered her signature dish. Another known dish of Liverpool is Bubble and Squeak. It is made with potatoes, cabbage, carrots, broad beans and sprouts. It is served with cold meat from the roast. We eat a lot of stews, pies, sausages and of course the well known Yorkshire pudding. In London, I usually dine out and catch up with friends. My favourite food is sushi so the best restaurants for me in London for Japanese fare are Koya and Nozomi.

Cook nook
Being away from home has forced me to enter the kitchen. I enjoy cooking now. I like simple, healthy dishes with lots of colour, so when I cook, I usually make a tuna steak, sweet potato mash and some Mediterranean veggies. When I feel lazy or want to get out of the house, there are so many choices for dining out in Bandra. My favourite restaurant is Hakkasan and just for a casual bite I like Pali Village Cafe and Eat Around The Corner.

Fit and fine
I believe that you should find something you enjoy doing to keep you fit or you’ll end up dreading your workout and slack. Early morning runs on Juhu beach are the best bet for me. I love horse riding and that too goes a long way in keeping myself in shape. I also enjoy doing yoga. When I need to shed some weight, cardio is the main port of call for me.

Silky pudding

Amy considers herself a chocoholic. If there is no chocolate in the dessert, it ain’t no dessert, says Amy. For her, there is nothing like pudding to end a meal on a sweet note. Though there are various ways of making chocolate pudding, Amy prefers the simple, old pudding without the trappings of cream and vanilla swirls or with crushed chocolate as topping.

chocolate pudding

>> 2 1/2 cups milk
>> 1/3 cup sugar
>> 3 tablespoons cornflour
>> 1/4 teaspoon salt
>> 2 egg yolks
>> 2 teaspoons butter
>> 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
>> 10 tablespoons chopped chocolate

Place two cups of milk in a pan and bring to a boil. Mix sugar, cornflour and salt in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine the remaining milk and egg yolks and whisk well. Add this to the sugar mixture and mix well. Gradually add half of the hot milk to the egg yolk mixture. Stir constantly with a whisk. Return the milk mixture to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add butter, vanilla and stir in the chocolate until its melts.
Pour into a bowl and when it cools, cover the surface of the bowl with a plastic wrap, and keep in fridge. Serve chilled.

Did you know?
Ketchup was used as a medicine in the 1800s to treat diarrhea, among other things

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