Cooking stories and food!
Shammi Narang loves to eat his food, and talk about it too
PHOTO RAJEEV BHATT
SERVE PLEASE! Shammi Narang enjoying lunch in Colour-N-Spice restaurant at The Village.
If you try to gauge from his good health that Shammi Narang is a great foodie, you won’t be wrong. But if you listen to his description of certain food that he likes, you won’t be able to help craving for those ones either. He is a good s
tory teller and his deep voice adds to the pleasure of listening to him.
And there he is, telling anecdotes about food while enjoying lunch at Colour-N-Spice at The Village Restaurant complex. It is Tuesday and Shammi is fasting.
“But”, he quips, “I will break it midway for the column. I am not a hard core fast observer. I do it every week to keep fit,” he smiles while the chef extends menu card to him. Choosing Banjara kabab, galouti kabab and zimikan aur anjeer kabab from “Kabab-e-Azam” section, Shammi recalls his “best food days”.
“My whole family was in the Army. We used to party there and I would often try my hand at making Chinese food. But my favourite always remained ‘ande-paranthe’ sold outside Vikram Hotel in Delhi. My father could cook mutton. My mom used to serve us baingan ka bharta and phulka with dollops of desi ghee – just awesome. To smell that ghee we used to keep the phulkas on our lips. I love her chane ki daal mein gheeya,” he reels out sinking into his past while enjoying kababs and sarson wali tandoori broccoli. “I am married into a Jat family. They used to cook organic saag with dollops of white butter on slow fire overnight on angeethi. I used to wait whole night to eat that,” he says with a smile.
Shammi who swears by ‘desi food’ now opts for dal makhni, biryani handi murg, vegetable biryani and raita from the main course. “Today my diet plan has gone for a six”, he laughs as he says that he cannot resist when it comes to bone marrow in mutton and ‘raat ki bachi hui dal ka parantha’.
“I can cook too – I mean I can boil eggs, cook some Chinese food,” Shammi hastens to add. But his culinary skills were exposed quite a number of times. Sheepishly, he recalls, “Once I boasted to friends that I could cook and they all thronged to my place. I didn’t know where my kitchen was. But I decided to make Rajasthani red mutton with red mirchi. I knew that it is cooked on slow fire. I didn’t have time to cook on slow fire. So I quietly took out a pressure cooker and made it mixing all spices I knew. But my closest friend smelled the rat. He asked me, ‘how did you cook it so quickly?’ Even now we recall that incident!”
Shammi is often invited by channels. Once Zee TV wanted him to make ‘mateera curry’ in its cookery show. “I was shocked,” he recalls adding, “I ran to the producer and said ‘marwaoge kya’? I don’t know how to cook food. I can only cook stories! He said, ‘okay you cook stories here, rest we will manage!’ All scared, I started ‘cooking stories’ – I praised papaya, blabbered the benefits of its ‘gooda’ which was to be added in curry, talked of the benefits of ‘slow fire cooking’, fragrance of spices, etc.
As I put mutton in kadhai, the gas went off with a big boom! I had spices spread all over my apron, hand and face, mixed with ash! Actually, the gas was burning for sometime and droplets of water made it explode. I stood like a logwood. Later, the food was cooked by someone else and they took shots of my hands putting mutton, masala, etc, and close-ups while I ‘cooked’ stories!’ Perfectly edited, when the show went on air, people complimented me, saying’ are wah aap to bada achcha khana bhi bana lete hain’!
Dessert time, but Narang refuses it. “I don’t have a sweet tooth”. He has done enough of sweet talking though!
RANA SIDDIQUI ZAMAN
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