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Delhi's delicious bite



Shekhar Suman enjoys his meal at The Claridges Hotel in New Delhi. Photo : S. Arneja.

SHEKHAR SUMAN is pretty clear about this: "I can be everywhere but not in the kitchen." On second thoughts, he adds, "What I mean is, I can't excel there. I can cook something though to save my life." If pushed hard, the king of gags says he can dish out an omelette and perhaps some Khichri.

Sitting at The Claridges hotel in New Delhi the other day, soaking in the old world charm of the place, he seems relaxed. With so much happening in his professional life, from acting in films to producing a few in the banner of his company, Daffodils and Dreams, from hosting TV shows to producing some, from commenting on cricket to singing and composing songs, his work diary is indeed full. Yet, when the conversation is about food alone, and the eating table is well spread out with dishes like butter chicken, paneer pasanda, palak paneer and fish Amritsari, he suddenly seems to be in tune with the city's food arc. "After all, I spent so many years here acting on Delhi stage. To tell you the truth, some of Delhi food is worth remembering. I don't mind tagging Delhi as the food city," Shekhar declares.

Food City

From savouring the fare in the restaurants on Pandara Road and Bengali Market to an occasional visit to Moti Mahal in Darya Ganj, from taking pleasure in the wide array at The Bukhara to sipping a drink at Dublin in Maurya Sheraton, Shekhar would speak of all this and more.

"At Dublin, I like that typical English charm about it. Bukhara is great for its food. For that matter, Mughlai food is the best in Delhi," at the top of his list of Mughlai favourites, though, is the butter chicken.

"Believe me, I am crazy about Delhi's butter chicken. An instant smile comes to my face even if I just talk about it. You don't get that in Mumbai," he laces it with that typical smile which by now is a household after his antics on the "Movers and Shakers" on small screen.

Now that he needs to keep in shape, Shekhar says, he has to avoid oily food. "But rice is my favourite. I don't let it go so easily from the dinning table," he says.

Street-side golgappa

As he gets on to dessert, which is succulent rasmalai, he says, "Given a chance, I would like to park my car near a street-side golgappa seller here for some juicy bits. But I can't. That is the price one has to pay at times for being a success." He by now seems to have given in to the reality.

Though Delhi's nightlife is "not as exciting as in Mumbai", yet this Mumbaiite says, he has always a special space for Delhiites. "I have a reason for that. People here know how to take care of guests. They are very hospitable. Mumbaiites are too casual about anything, anybody." But then the same sociable city has on its lap hordes of eveteasers and killer Blue Line buses operating freely, he tags on.

Signing off for the day, Shekhar says, "Cooking is indeed an art. If you don't know it, don't try. The danger is it can kill someone."

As he walks off, he leaves you with a smile, something which many can't do.

SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY

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