Cooking Up A Storm With Jayati Bhatia: I Was Supposed To Serve The Food And Not Eat While Playing Phatto In Heeramandi

Cooking Up A Storm With Jayati Bhatia: I Was Supposed To Serve The Food And Not Eat While Playing Phatto In Heeramandi

Actress shares her love of food, reveals her favorite family cook is her mom, and more

Anita Raheja Updated: Sunday, June 02, 2024, 12:53 PM IST
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Jayati Bhatia |

Jayati Bhatia, despite half a dozen stars in pivotal roles, was, as always, noticed as the eager beaver, eavesdropping Phatto. During Covid, Jayati Bhatia learned to cook. But as soon as Covid ended, out went the kitchen apron!

My dietary preference: Basically, I am non-vegetarian, coming from a Bengali family, but I enjoy vegetarian food too. My preference is Machher Jhol Bhaat, Aloo Bhaja, and Cholar Dal. I also love Punjabi food a lot because I’ve been brought up in Delhi. I relish rajma chawal, butter chicken, and naan.

My breakfast is: I do intermittent fasting, so most of the time I do not eat breakfast. I eat my last meal at 7 p.m. My next meal is generally at 1 p.m. because I do a 14-hour fast.

My lunch is: The first meal of the day. Around 10:30 a.m., I have black coffee with a few almonds. On Sundays, mutton curry and rice in Bengali style is a must, with one big aloo. My full concentration is on the aloo.

In the evenings: I have black coffee or sometimes I have normal chai with a cashew cookie or a pista cookie.

My dinner is: A cup of green tea.

My fitness regime: My days are very long because of my shoot, but I do go for a walk for half an hour, four days a week.

My favourite restaurants are: I love having seafood, so one of my favourite restaurants in Mumbai is Gajalee. Since I regularly shoot near Mira Road or Naigaon, when I am in an indulgent mood, I eat at Dara’s Dhaba. Butter chicken, dal makhani, palak chicken - yum! Even their Chinese is fantastic.

My favorite cuisine is: Bengali as well as Chinese. And I love hummus and pita bread sometimes or chicken in hummus salad.

I can cook: Only for people whom I totally love. I used to cook for my mother and Mr. Bhatia.

During Covid: I would keep going to my mother for instructions. During that phase, I also learned how to cook biryani. I learned to use substitutes of ingredients for instance I use ghee instead of butter to make white sauce.

My favourite cook in my family: My mother. I miss her so much. I miss her shorshe bata maach. She could make a simple thing like aloo bhate so tasty, which is like aloo chokha. I fondly remember her khejur gurer payesh, khajoor ke gur ka kheer with kaju in it, not badam, because I liked kaju.

My childhood memories of food: My father was a salaried person, so by the 25th or 26th of the month, the whole salary ran out. Mom would make dal chawal and aloo bhaja. By the first of the month, we were back to eating things of our choice. The Sunday mutton curry with rice or mom’s fantastic kheer are unforgettable. During Vijayadashami, mother would invite friends and relatives, 45 people in all, every year. The feast would comprise chicken, pulao, googhni, kheer, and dorbesh, which is similar to besan ladoos. My job was to just serve water to them. I was very bad at kitchen work, but it was mesmerizing to see Maa cooking for 45 people single-handedly.

For a romantic meal: I would like to be on a cruise with him, looking into each other’s eyes. Wine and dine is welcome.

My favourite drink: Gin with a bit of ice and water, with cut lemon and green chillies.

My favourite beverage: I hope you will not laugh, thanda thanda creamy milk.

During summer, my favourite food and drink is: My favourite food is dahi bhaat with pickle, and I can have shikanji the whole day.

Food-related memories during the shoot of Heeramandi: Strange but true, during Heeramandi I could not eat lunch at all because we would be very hyper, so I would not be able to eat much. During the food sequences, there would be huge dastarkhaans spread with lovely food, but I was playing Phatto, so I was supposed to serve the food and not eat. I would just keep looking at it with longing eyes.

Foods I consciously have: I do not skip roti and rice because they have carbohydrates, which are brain food. I either have rice or roti, never mix the two.

Dhokar Dalna

Dhokar Dalna |

Dhokar Dalna Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup chana dal

1 1/2 inch ginger (grated)

2 to 3 green chillies (or as per taste)

2 to 3 tablespoons oil

1/2 teaspoon asafoetida powder

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons oil (to grease the steel plate and baking dish)

2 to 3 tablespoons oil (to brush the Dhokas when you bake them)

Ingredients for the Gravy:

2 to 3 tablespoons mustard oil

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 1/2 inch ginger (grated)

2 to 3 slit green chillies (or as per taste)

2 tomatoes (finely chopped)

1 1/2 tablespoons coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin seed powder

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon red chilli powder

Salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 potatoes (cut into medium-sized cubes)

1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder

1 tablespoon ghee

Method for the Dhokar Dalna:

Wash and soak the chana dal for a couple of hours. Drain the water and grind it with ginger, green chillies, and a little water into a paste. Heat oil in a non-stick pan, add asafoetida powder and cumin seeds. Once the seeds crackle, add the ground chana dal mixture, salt, and sugar. Sauté on a low flame until the chana dal mixture dries and comes together. Cool the mixture completely. Grease a steel plate with a teaspoon of oil, pour the chana dal mixture into it, and pat down to spread evenly. Keep the mixture out or in the fridge to solidify so that you can easily cut it into pieces. Make square or medium-sized diamond pieces. Grease a baking dish with a teaspoon of oil. Place the dhokars in it and brush them with a little oil. Bake in a preheated oven at 160 degrees Celsius for 20-30 minutes or until done. Keep aside.

Method for the Gravy:

Heat mustard oil in a heavy-bottomed or non-stick kadai. Add bay leaves and cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds crackle, add the grated ginger, green chillies, and chopped tomatoes. Sauté on a low flame until the oil separates. Add coriander powder, cumin seed powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt, and sugar. Sauté on a low flame for a few seconds. Add the potatoes and mix well. Add some water, cover the kadai with a lid, and cook the potatoes on a low flame, gently stirring at regular intervals until they are done. Add the baked dhokars to the gravy and simmer for 5 minutes. Garnish with a sprinkling of garam masala powder and ghee. Remove from heat and let the dish rest for a few minutes so the flavours blend. Serve hot with steamed rice or parathas.

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