Once an avid meat eater, Kangana Ranaut has now turned vegan. Lucknow is her favourite city for chaats, the cafes in Florence are her favourite getaways, her refrigerator is crammed with all sorts of herbs, vinegars and pastas, and she binges on organic cupcakes from Vanilla Pod.
You grew up eating meat and fish, and then gave it up.
Actually, I have now turned vegan. Somewhere down the line, I realised that dairy products were giving me acidity, so now I am a vegan. I have learnt how to cook at lot of food from down south. They use almond and coconut milk in their cooking. I have added fruits, nuts, tofu and nut shakes in my diet. I have never felt better. Going vegetarian — and then vegan — has calmed me down, and it has also made me physically and emotionally strong. I do crave meat once in a while, but I find that spiritually, non-vegetarian food works against my emotional health.
Everyone is trying to lose weight. We have heard you have been trying to gain a few kilos.
I am naturally slim, actually thin. So, for years I have been trying to get some curves. I tried eating food that would increase my weight, but I only ended up putting fat around my stomach. So, now I have made peace with my body. I exercise regularly and I eat a balanced diet, without any junk food. I eat good carbs, and some fat and protein, which I get from lentils and tofu. I don’t eat junk food and when I really want to indulge myself, I order a pizza, or some organic cupcakes from Vanilla Pod.
What is your breakfast like?
I start my day with porridge, cereals, some fruits and a strong cup of coffee. But if you really want to ensure your breakfast keeps you full for a long time, try muesli with nuts, bananas or other fruits, coconut milk, yogurt and blackcurrant. Or, you can drink a smoothie made from banana and coconut milk, and sprinkled with cinnamon.
What about the rest of your meals?
If I get hungry in between meals, I eat fruits, or drink a protein shake. For lunch, it is usually some lentils, vegetables, chapatis or rice. I prefer brown bread, though. Dinner is light — a soup, or grilled vegetables, or a salad.
What’s your favourite food?
Dal, rice, and any one vegetable. I used to binge on Hyderabadi biryani, but now I love putting together a nice vegetable sandwich.
Do you cook?
Yes, very often. Before I turned vegetarian, I used to often cook seafood, or my favourite breakfast of eggs and bacon. Now, I love making pulao or rice with lots of spices and vegetables.
What’s your favourite beverage?
Coffee! I can drink it any time. And, red wine. Over the years, I have bought a whole load of fine red wines from Paris.
And your favourite cuisine?
It used to be Japanese, until I gave up eating meat and seafood. I like Italian food, too.
Which are the food experiences you remember from you many travels?
When we were shooting for Tanu Weds Manu, in Lucknow, I ate out often at Shukla Chaat House. They serve the best aloo tikkis I have ever eaten, and a very interesting Pani ke Patashe, which is essentially gol gappas or paani puri. Florence is among my favourite cities for its heritage, art and its beautiful cafes. I love sitting in one of the cafes there, and having a croissant with some great coffee. I carry my diary along and spend the evening writing and reading.3
Which are your favourite restaurants?
I don’t have just one. I like discovering new restaurants, and I like apps that help me discover different restaurants in the cities I travel to. In Mumbai, I often ate out at this Kashmiri restaurant called Kong Poush, because I loved the flavours of Kashmiri food.
What is your earliest food memory?
I am from a family of Rajputs and we are confirmed non-vegetarians. I learnt cooking from my mom, and she makes a very good mutton curry.
What is that one thing you cook well?
I used to cook a beautiful roast chicken with aubergine, tomato and parmesan. Now, I make very good pasta with my vinegars and sauces.
What will we always find in your fridge?
Vinegars, pastas, cheeses and herbs, many of which I pick up when I travel abroad.