Cooking Up A Storm With Meenakshi Seshadri: The Weirdest Food I Have Eaten Was Octopus

Cooking Up A Storm With Meenakshi Seshadri: The Weirdest Food I Have Eaten Was Octopus

In this fortnightly column, we offer you an exclusive pass to the kitchen of one of your favourite celebrities and get the stars to reveal one secret recipe from their family cookbook

Anita Raheja Updated: Saturday, July 06, 2024, 10:05 PM IST
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Meenakshi Seshadri |

After being under the spotlight as a sought-after actress in the Hindi film industry during the 80s and 90s, Meenakshi Seshadri is back for a second shot as an actress in Bollywood. She spent more than two decades in the USA but didn’t follow the norm of stocking up food for the week in the deep freeze. She continued with the Indian tradition: buy fresh, use fresh, eat fresh.

My dietary preference: I am basically a non-vegetarian.

My favourite dishes are: Korean items like Bibimbap, Bulgogi, Japchae, and Tteokbokki. I love the variety and flavours of the side dishes as well. They really get the digestion going.

When I wake up: I have a couple of glasses of hot water to drink.

For breakfast, I have: Porridge made of brown rice, milk with fruits, and dry fruits.

My lunch is: Traditional North Indian dishes, such as rice, roti, two varieties of vegetables, dal, yogurt, and salad. Sometimes a non-vegetarian dish.

In the evenings, if I am hungry: I have fruits. My favourites are pomegranate, papaya, oranges, sweet lime, and banana.

My dinner is: A repeat of my lunch.

My favourite desserts are: Carrot halwa served hot with cold kheer.

Foods I consciously avoid: Dessert, fried, and spicy food.

My favourite restaurants: In India, I prefer traditional thali, which I enjoy at Saravana Bhavan.

My favourite cuisines: All Indian food, especially South Indian, Korean, Mexican, and Italian.

For a romantic meal, I would like to go to: A restaurant. The heat and the sand on the beach are not conducive to romance. I would order something that could be shared. I’m not too much into drinking, but some champagne would be fun.

A dish I cook and my husband and children relish: Chicken quesadilla and butter chicken.

My favourite cook in my family: My sister Nimmi’s Maharashtrian thalipeeth is out of this world, and my mom made excellent sambar.

The lifestyle changes I made when I settled down in the US after marriage: I became predominantly non-vegetarian and tried different kinds of cuisines.

When I went grocery shopping: I learned to buy food that was discounted or for which I could use coupons. I learned where to get the bargains. After Covid, I would order online and just go and pick up the groceries. It was always fun to go as a family to shop. My daughter Kendra is awesome at baking, Italian, and Korean dishes. My son Josh can make a really neat guacamole. I never really cooked in India; we ordered in food a lot.

During summers, my favourite drinks are: Coconut water, lassi, chaas, and nimbu pani.

The weirdest food I have eaten: Octopus.

My favourite recipe: Stuffed Brinjal.

Recipe of Stuffed Brinjal

Recipe of Stuffed Brinjal |

Ingredients for the stuffing

5 tablespoons raw peanuts

1 teaspoon red chili powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

2 teaspoons coriander powder

1 teaspoon cumin seed powder

1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder

Salt to taste

Ingredients for the gravy

8 small brinjals (kateri vangi)

5 to 6 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder

2 onions (finely chopped)

1 1/2 inches ginger (ground)

8 to 10 cloves garlic (ground)

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

2 tomatoes (finely chopped)

2 teaspoons coriander powder

1-2 teaspoons red chili powder (or as per taste)

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

Salt to taste

2 glasses hot water (to cook the brinjals)

1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder

A handful of finely chopped coriander leaves

Method for the stuffing

In a non-stick pan, dry roast the peanuts on a medium to low flame until they become crunchy and aromatic. Remove from gas and let it cool. Dry grind the peanuts. Add the powdered masalas and salt. Mix well.

Method to make the gravy

Wash the brinjals. Slit them on four sides without breaking them apart. You can keep a portion of the stems if you wish. Slightly pull apart the brinjal wedges to check if there are any worms. Keep the brinjals soaked in water till you prepare the stuffing and the gravy. In a non-stick pan or kadai, heat oil. Add cumin seeds and asafoetida powder. When the seeds crackle, add the onions, ginger-garlic paste, and green chilies. Sauté the onions on a low flame. While the onions are being sautéed, stuff each brinjal with a tablespoon of the peanut mixture. Once the onions turn golden, add the tomatoes and cook on a low flame till they are soft. Add red chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, and salt. Sauté on a low flame till the oil separates. Add the stuffed brinjals and the remaining peanut mixture to the onion-tomato gravy. Mix gently till the brinjals are well coated with the masala. Add hot water and cook covered on a low flame, stirring at regular intervals till the brinjals are done. Garnish with a sprinkling of garam masala powder and finely chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with rotis and onion rings.

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