Harsh Dixit: I have been making meals for Ranbir Kapoor, seven days a week
Ranbir Kapoor's personal chef lets us in on creating delicious meals with only as much fat as his trainers approve of
Bored of consuming boxed meals, and finding his basic home-cooked meals less appetising, Ranbir Kapoor, apparently on Alia Bhatt's recommendation, turned to Harsh Dixit for suggestions of a suitable chef to appoint. Dixit, who had previously catered to Kapoor as part of his meal-prep service business, had recently called time on the service and was willing to be his person. "For a year, I have been making meals for Ranbir, seven days a week. I'll head to his home to cook, and even travel with him for shoots," Dixit tells mid-day.
Striking the right balance between preparing scrumptious dishes and meeting the right proportion of protein, carbohydrates and fats that is recommended by his nutritionists, is his key job. "There is usually a discussion that ensues with his nutritionist and trainer about his requirements. There are requests pertaining to the [daily] calorie count as well as how and when different food sources must be incorporated in his diet. For an upcoming film, he needs to look lean and ripped. His meal plan for it was intricate; a post-workout protein meal was expected to be fish-based, so that it could be easily consumed. Dinner had to have red meat, since it is digested slowly, and could keep him satiated," says Dixit, adding that even seemingly inconsequential factors, like ensuring that the meals can be consumed by spoon in the midst of Kapoor's mid-shoot makeup sessions, are things he must be mindful of. Dixit says part of his job also entails "figuring out how to serve vegetables in a way that's adaptable for the palate." In a bid to ensure Kapoor doesn't "miss out" on important nutrients, he chooses to add them to his diet in the form of juices, smoothies or purées.
"If I must make low-calorie meals, I cut down on the richness of the food. For instance, the core ingredients in butter chicken are chicken, tomatoes and kasuri methi. What makes it high in calories is the cashew paste, ghee and cream. So, if I am given a stipulated amount of fat that I must feed him, I will control the richness of the dish by using olive or avocado oil instead of ghee." Kapoor, Dixit says, was on a diet involving macadamia oil for a long time.
"It was advised by his trainer, who had researched on its health benefits. But, I was interested in factors like its smoking point, and whether I must use it as a gravy or flavouring agent." Pointing out that rice, rotis and meat are staples that cannot be played with, Dixit adds that the factors that allow him to put his prowess on display are vegetable preparations. "As a chef who cooks for survival, I need to know how to make things interesting for him. Right now, I feed him turi, parval, and a bevy of other sabzis that even a nutritionist wouldn't specify." Only on two occasions, Kapoor requested Dixit to avoid repeating a dish. One was for a zucchini dish, and the other for a thyme-based meal. "But I still add the thyme in dishes where he can't spot it," he laughs.
A true-blue Punjabi, Kapoor loves his meals. "He enjoys pork and meat, and loves all things sweet, including Indian sweets, chocolates, cookies, cupcakes and brownies." But when a role demands he cut down the fats, a discussion ensues with the actor where it is specified that sweets would be replaced by savoury dishes. On a particularly dull day, Kapoor may ask him to forgo what's on the charts and play mischief. "But our variations may be of the order of 300 calories more than designated. That too, he knows, he must later burn it off."
Kapoor's current daily calorie count
Kapoor's favourite meal prepared by Dixit
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