He might be brand ambassador for luxury watches and other fine objects, but when it comes to food, Shah Rukh Khan likes it simple. And, it’s home-cooked — even better. He also loves chicken — lots of it — and can “make pretty decent pasta”. In this interview, Khan chats with Alyssandra Mendonsa about his food memories, the caviar he once had on an Air India flight and his favourite restaurants across the world.
What is your earliest food memory?
It has to be the food cooked at home. It has to be eating a wonderful raan cooked by my father. My father was a Pathan. He ate like one, too. He used to eat a lot of dry Pathani food — which was traditional to Peshawar — particularly raan.
What was your favourite dish made by your mom?
My mother cooked almost everything really well, but I loved her Hyderabadi food — the mutton biryani and khatti dal in particular.
What’s your comfort food?
Tandoori chicken. I am addicted to it and I can eat it 365 days a year. Some time back, I had a particular type of caviar on Air India. But it’s been a while since I have encountered it.
What do you binge on?
And, what’s your poison?
Some wine maybe, but, more often than not, Bacardi.
Which is your favourite restaurant in India? What is the one dish you always order when you go there?
I am not fond of fine-dine restaurants. Many years ago, I went to a fancy French restaurant in Hong Kong and was puzzled by the three glasses on my cover. I can’t seem to forget the food my mom and dad cooked. They were restaurateurs (Khan’s parents — Mir Taj Mohammed Khan and Fatima — ran De Ramble’s in New Delhi), and knew their food. That’s why I don’t enjoy eating out, and keep my meals as simple as possible. Nothing seems to match up to their cooking. However, I do enjoy the pastas at Mezzo Mezzo at the JW Marriott in Mumbai. And I quite liked the Shamiana at The Taj (Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai).
Tell us about one memorable meal you’ve had during your travels. What did it involve?
I don’t remember meals, but I remember restaurants. I end up going to my favourite restaurants when I am abroad. So, it is Nobu in London for their fabulous sushi, and Buddha Bar in New York for its chilled out vibe.
Which is your favourite regional Indian cuisine?
I am a north Indian, and I enjoy food from the northern parts of India — specially the raan and mutton dishes from Lucknow. I also enjoy Hyderabadi food since it tends to be spicy, and my mom cooked it rather well. I grew up eating Mughlai food.
What’s your favourite breakfast?
I usually skip breakfast. I wake up very late! But if I do have breakfast, it is usually egg whites, a glass of orange juice and a vitamin tablet.
Do you have a sweet tooth?
I am not fond of junk food or desserts. I sometimes eat an ice-cream, or a chocolate. Gauri (Khan, wife) makes a nice ice-cream with digestive biscuits. And, I don’t eat fruits.
Do you cook? Is there something you cook well?
Well, not too much. I have cooked Batman cookies with my son when he was a little boy. I can boil eggs, make tea. And I make very good phulkas — soft and round. I also cook pretty decent pasta.
What is your favourite spice/ingredient?
Red chillies, for sure, because I like spicy food.
What do you avoid or try to avoid so you can keep fit?
Nothing! But, if I have to get fit for a role, I give up white rice, white bread, sugar and alcohol. I go on a diet of lean meats, pulses, egg whites and grilled chicken. I also eat smaller portions.
Who are the foodies in your gang?
If my friends call me out for dinner, I eat at home and go out and have coffee with them. But all my friends are foodies – Karan (Johar), Farhan (Akhtar), Farha (Khan), or my childhood friends from Delhi.
What kind of food do you eat on the sets?
I generally avoid food cooked on the sets. I get lunch from home – tandoori chicken or fish, and sometimes, bean sprouts or a vegetable dish.
And what’s dinner usually like?
Generally, tandoori chicken and tandoori roti. But, once in a while, a mutton dish.
What will we always find in your fridge?
Pepsi and chicken.
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