Ganesh special series: God is also on a diet
Opening our week-long Ganesh special series, Shilpa Shetty Kundra with the best bod in town speaks of keeping tradition alive in home-made modaks but with sugar alternatives
Shilpa Shetty invites you into her home for a whiff of festive eats and culinary memories
Actor Shilpa Shetty Kundra can't help but gobble a steamed modak in the middle of shaping Ganesha's favourite sweet at her Juhu home. "I love modak!"
Since she got married in 2009 (barring last year as she was yet to complete her late father's barsi ritual), the super-fit actor-entrepreneur has been welcoming an idol at home ever since. "After I became an actor, someone told me about Lalbaugcha Raja. So, I visited the Parel pandal with immense faith and certain good things happened in my life. I don't know if it was a coincidence but I am a believer in the fact that when you put a thought in the universe, it manifests. So, when my wishes were fulfilled, I decided that if and when I get married, I will bring Ganuraja home," the actor tells us.
Shilpa Shetty Kundra prepares a plate of steamed modaks
Kundra gets a mini version of the idol associated with the city's most famed pandal situated in Parel. Interestingly, it is made by the same murtikar, Santosh Kambli. As she preps for the festive season, the actor reminisces about all things Ganesha.
The Chembur wonder years
Kundra tells us that her family believes in Ganpati. In fact, earlier, whenever in town, the actor would walk barefoot to Siddhivinayak temple on Tuesdays from her Mahim home. But her fondest childhood memories are of visiting the many pandals of Chembur. "We would usher in Ganesh Chaturthi by dropping by all the famous pandals in Chembur. The biggest Ganpatis used to be at Duke's, RK and Tilaknagar. We would head there for darshan and it was quite an event! My mum used to make us stand in the queue, and at times, we didn't get a modak even after waiting for hours [laughs]! But it was the night out with our parents that we still cherish fondly," recalls the actor.
Kundra (with husband Raj, and Viaan at the back) picks her mini Lalbaugcha Raja from the workshop in 2016. File Pic
She speaks of on particular event that she remembers with excitement. "Once, Mithun Chakraborty had come to a pandal in Chembur. I was a big fan! It felt like the whole suburb had showed up. I must have been 10 at the time. I didn't get to see him, and I was heartbroken. I remember mum telling me, 'You didn't come to see Mithun Chakraborty; you came to see God!' So nowadays, when I visit pandals, as a known face, I am reminded of my childhood and the Mithun da episode," she smiles.
For three years on the trot, Kundra has been bringing home an eco-friendly idol made of clay by Kambli. "When I requested Santosh to make the idol with clay, he was worried that it would develop cracks, but it didn't. And this year, I will also immerse the idol at home and water the plants with what's left. We celebrate the festival with such fanfare and a banjo party, but it pains me to see that the day after visarjan, the water becomes toxic; besides, there are bits of the idol strewn on the beach, it's terrible. I thought if I want to set an example for my son, I have to change. Even for decorations, we will swap thermocol for dried leaves and bamboo mats. I have also invited Viaan's school friends for an activity to make clay Ganpatis. I want children to understand the ethos behind the festival but also have fun," says the actor.
Shilpa, the host
"Hamare ghar mein bhagwan bhi diet pe hai," jokes Kundra when she mentions that the prasad for 10 days is made with coconut sugar or jaggery. The actor is known for her Diwali parties and Ganpati celebrations, which she cherishes as she feels that with a busy schedule, these days are the only opportunity to spend time with her family and friends.
"Those two days are full-on binge! People come to my home just to eat [laughs]. For Ganpati, people come at odd times and throughout the day. So you should make something that can be eaten at any point of the day. For beverages, I keep lassi, kesar ka doodh, filter coffee and kulhad chai ready. I have a chaat corner, and also serve idli, kulfi and rabdi jalebi. But I make things with sugar alternatives. When it comes to festive food, it's best when people enjoy it," says the health- conscious actor.
Log on to www.mid-day.com for Kundra’s modak recipe
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