Cooking Up A Storm With Manav Kaul: 'I’m A Very Boring Person, As Far As Food Is Concerned'

Cooking Up A Storm With Manav Kaul: 'I’m A Very Boring Person, As Far As Food Is Concerned'

Actor thinks he's great at making poha because he grew up in Bhopal and Indore, a popular dish in the cities

Anita Raheja-Heena AgarwalUpdated: Saturday, April 20, 2024, 08:56 PM IST
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Manav Kaul |

Manav Kaul believes that he is a natural at making poha because he was raised in Bhopal and thereafter shifted to Indore, places famous for their poha. Despite claiming, “I’m a very boring person, as far as food is concerned,” we find out to the contrary.

My dietary preference: I’m non-vegetarian, but 90 percent of my food is essentially vegetarian.

The first thing I have in the morning: I have different machines to make variations of black coffee. I enjoy an Italian brand coffee, Illy, and the Indian coffee from a small little restaurant in Goa, Babka Cafe.

Afterthought: I prefer Babka coffee over Illy.

My breakfast is: Sunny side up with ragi bread and a cup of tea. But once or twice a week, I love to have poha because it is my favourite breakfast. My parents and my brother live in Indore, and Indore is famous for poha.

My lunch: I have only salads in my lunch, so I try to cut down my carbs. I have salad four times a week; otherwise, a basic dal, rice, and sabzi in my lunch. I am not very fussy about my lunch.

In the evenings: After my workout, which is three times a week, I eat eggs sunny side up.

For dinner: I must have rice in the evening; it gives me good sleep and it makes me happy. So it is either a simple khichdi or dal-rice and a nice sabzi.

My favourite desserts: I don’t have a sweet tooth. If I have a craving for something sweet, I eat dark chocolate.

My fitness regime: Because I play tennis, my cardio is taken care of. And I go to the gym twice a week. I try to avoid carbs at least in one of the meals in the day. Mostly I eat very basic Indian food, dal, and rice. I am not a roti eater.

My favourite restaurants abroad: I follow Anthony Bourdain’s recommendations of street food. I don’t go to fancy restaurants; I feel very awkward.

My favourite cuisines: I like Thai, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese food a lot. So when I go abroad and feel the urge to eat Indian food, I eat Thai food, which is very close to our food palate.

For a romantic meal: Rather than eating out, I would cook Kashmiri food. I can cook very good dum aloo, paneer, and rajma.

Favourite cook in my family: My bhabhi and my mother cook fantastic food. I always overeat when I go home.

The weirdest food I have ever had: I was at a local restaurant in Korea. They give you this big chunk of raw meat. You have to cut it and put it in a portable grill. And you have to cook, add the different ingredients provided by them, and eat. That was something very strange for me but an incredibly unique experience.

My childhood memories of food are: I crave for the Ghantewala ka samosa and jalebi. Our breakfast was either poha-jalebi or samosa-jalebi or kachori-jalebi or puri and chai. Now I miss eating jalebis, samosas, and kachoris the way I used to.

My favourite drink: I prefer very strong tea and in alcohol, I prefer Gin and tonic.

During the summers: I like to have chaas and a good white wine.

Recipe Indori Poha

Ingredients for the Indori Poha Masala:

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

10-12 peppercorns

8-10 cloves

1 medium stick cinnamon

½ nutmeg (grated)

2-3 bay leaves

3 teaspoons red chili powder

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

2 teaspoons mango powder

1 teaspoon black salt

1/4 teaspoon ginger powder

Pinch of asafoetida powder

2 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon salt

Method to prepare the Indori Poha Masala:

In a pan, take coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and bay leaves. Sauté on a low flame until the spices turn aromatic. Cool completely, and transfer to the dry grinder jar. Add red chili powder, turmeric powder, mango powder, black salt, asafoetida powder, ginger powder, sugar, and salt. Grind to a fine powder and store the masala in an airtight container.

Ingredients to make the Poha:

2 cups thick poha

Sufficient water for rinsing the poha

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

1-2 tablespoons sugar (or as per taste)

1 teaspoon salt (or as per taste)

3 tablespoons oil

4 tablespoons peanuts

3/4 tablespoon mustard seeds

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

½ tablespoon fennel seeds

1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder

Few curry leaves

4 finely chopped green chilies ( or as per taste)

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

¼ cup milk

Handful of finely chopped coriander leaves

1/2 teaspoon Indori poha masala

Method to make the Poha:

In a large bowl, take the poha. Rinse the poha in sufficient water, making sure not to soak it. Drain off the excess water from the poha. Add turmeric powder, sugar, and salt. Mix gently, making sure everything is well combined, and keep aside. In a pan, heat oil and fry the peanuts until they turn crunchy and keep aside. In the same oil, add mustard, cumin, and fennel seeds. Add asafoetida powder and a few curry leaves. Once the seeds crackle, add the green chilies and turmeric powder and sauté for a few seconds. Pour this tempering over the soaked poha and mix it well. Boil 2-3 cups of water in a big vessel. Once the water starts to boil, lower the flame. Transfer the poha into the large plate and rest the plate on a stand placed in the center of the vessel.Sprinkle little milk, finely chopped coriander leaves, fried peanuts, and Indori poha masala. Cover with a lid and steam for 10 minutes on a medium flame, or until the poha is softened and flavors are absorbed.

Ingredients to garnish:

Handful of salted boondi

1 onion (finely chopped)

Handful of Ratlami sev

Handful of fried peanuts

2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaves

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon Indori poha masala

Handful of pomegranate

To Serve: Remove the poha in a plate. Garnish with some more Indori poha masala, boondi, finely chopped onions, sev, peanuts, coriander leaves, and lemon juice. Serve hot.

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