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Gourmet act

Ashish Vidyarthi enjoys food, acting and meeting people



Ashish Vidyarthi connects to people through food.

EVEN BEFORE Ashish Vidyarthi settles down for a fine dining experience, he prepares one adequately for what's in store over the phone itself.

Dining with him (he is game even after a hectic day's shoot) is undertaking a culinary journey of the country. The actor is not just a foodie but also a veritable dictionary of cuisine.

He makes it a point to have the local food of the area he visits while shooting. "I enjoy different kinds of food and meeting people and I connect to them through food," he says, while settling down at Peshawri restaurant, ITC Hotel Kakatiya Sheraton and Towers.

Vidyarthi loves to carry food (from various parts) to Mumbai and party with family and friends. What he notices in his various travels is that "cuisine is steeped in culture."

Culinary cruise

He begins his journey from up north - Ladakh. "One gets every kind of non-veg food except fish which is considered one of the avatars of Buddha.

In Kashmir there is an excellent German bakery run by a Sardar, which serves good pies, cakes and pastries. In fact the Kashmiri wazwan is so amazing that I carried the meat balls to Mumbai.

I arrived loaded with them at the airport and faced problem with the authorities.

But I managed." Vidyarthi remembers the dal-bati freshly baked at a roadside stall while returning from Udaipur and the makki-ki-roti and sarson ki saag in Punjab as some of the best food he savoured.

"I can never forget the taste of the bati straight from the embers. My driver fed me makki-ki-roti at his village home."

Hyderabad is one city on his shooting circuit. "I have great memories of Kakatiya Sheraton. Ziddi (with Sunny Deol) was shot here." He loves the biryani from Paradise. When he goes back to Mumbai his baggage is full of biryani, guthi vankaya (Hyderabad House) and gongura mamsam. He swears by G. Pulla Reddy especially the khova puri and Mysore Pak. "I have been carrying sweets for seven years and the quality has been consistent." Mangoes (Totapuri) is part of baggage too.

Of late Vidyarthi likes to hang out at `On the way', Jubilee Hills. "It epitomises what modern Hyderabad is all about." He gives highest marks to 10 Downing Street."

Moving southwards to Chennai, he enjoys the jalebis and Mysore pak from Sree Krishna Sweets. The fish sold in the shops on the seafront in Kochi is delicious. "Kolkata is the food capital. You get great Bengali food there."

As his platter of kebabs and roti arrives Vidyarthi food caravan rolls on. He traverses the length and breadth of the country. When in Mumbai he frequently visits Urban Tadka and Mainland China (he vouches for the Crackling Spinach found no where else). "I am a frequent visitor to Mainland China and when I got the National Award they helped me organise an impromptu party there." Though he does not cook, he enthuses people to don the apron. "My mom-in-law is a great cook."

History to histrionics

This student of History who graduated to histrionics subsequently feels "history opened a whole new world. The invigorating lectures gave me insights into people and societies."

He always wanted to be an actor "although it was a question of how and when. At that time I saw it as an accident though later I realised there are no accidents in life." Vidyarthi loves acting as "it gives me an opportunity to explore many things within me and is exciting as it offers possibilities of meeting people. Great cinema is that which is etched in memory, inspires you. So films are a great place to be in," says the avid traveller.

"Life is simple, we make it complicated. Life is continuous rejuvenation. The achievement of today is ego for tomorrow," he says over kulfi.

Ashish Vidyarthi, the actor, is trying to transform lives and society through Landmark Foundation and Today for Tomorrow.

Some favourites

Kachhi food (chaat in all telas)

Phirnee in Karims (Jama Masjid), parathas at Mool Chand and ghantaghar (Delhi University), Butter chicken at Sethi's dhaba (Pahargunj), bun-anda at Jai Singh (near Hindu College)

Sheermal and kebabs (Lucknow)

Dosas (Vidyarthi Bhavan, Bangalore)

Chaat (Nathu's Delhi)

Paan (Sarafa, Indore)

RADHIKA RAJAMANI

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