Purab Kohli looks just as adorable whistling to Mika’s Grace Kelly, wielding a wooden ladle in his kitchen, as he did in a goatee, striking the drums to Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy’s beats in the movie Rock On !! “There’s nothing like cooking on a Sunday while sipping a gin and tonic. It’s so de-stressing,” he says with a smile, which I come to realize is a permanent fixture on his face.
Chef’s hat: Kohli borrowed his recipes from his mother and wife; (above) 18-month-old Kohli enjoying Tasty Tasty Noodles. Ritam Banerjee / Mint
Although we aren’t there on a Sunday, it looks, smells and sounds just like Sunday—the peppy music on the iPod attached to a speaker, the frying sausages, salami and eggs, the whirring cappuccino machine, and Kohli sporting bed head and stubble.
In faded, wrinkled jeans and a casual shirt, Kohli looks at home in his compact, open kitchen. Bright sunlight pouring in, the kitchen opens into the drawing room on the right and a big, blue balcony with potted plants and a park bench to the left. With a few shelves scattered with small boxes of cereal and food ingredients, a big white fridge, a stove, a sink and a wooden counter with wooden bar stools, the kitchen feels as casual as its owner.
By his own admission, he loves home-made food and cooks dal, rice and chicken curry and makes great cheese omelettes. For us, Kohli is making two dishes with recipes courtesy the two most important women in his life.
The main course is noodles and stir-fried vegetables, dishes that he has grown up eating but never prepared himself. “At times, I have polished off a full wok of these noodles,” he says. His mother mailed him the recipe—Tasty Tasty Noodles—that’s now flapping under his refrigerator magnet. Just like its name, the recipe is his mother’s brainchild—a mishmash of ingredients found in the fridge prepared with noodles Chinese style.
Kohli’s help does all the chopping while he takes over the stove. “Ready, Freddie?” he says, before dunking the noodles in boiling water, and his mother arrives just in time to see her son have a go at the family recipe. “As a child I used to make him sit in the kitchen, hand him some vessels and vegetables to keep him busy so he would stay out of trouble while I cooked. That’s how he got interested in cooking, I think,” she says. His grip on the ladle may be a little awkward and he has to bend down to read the recipe stuck on the fridge every few minutes but with his mother in the kitchen, his confidence level visibly improves. Of course, her instructions help—“Put the veggies in quickly”; “pour more oil”; “that’s enough, Purab”; “decide for yourself”; “not so much”; “use a cloth or you’ll burn your fingers!”
“All girls should marry boys who can cook,” his mother declares. Kohli says he doesn’t need to cook much because there are fabulous cooks around him—his mother, mother-in-law, and his wife. “And they’re small eaters. I eat my wife’s share all the time. Sometimes I even eat the chicken made for my dogs,” he says. Kohli keeps wiping the counter tops clean and instructing his help to wash the dishes even as he cooks. “Good cooks clean up the kitchen!” his mum says. And we know where he’s got his training.
The noodles have been mixed with vegetables and topped with sausages, salami and an omelette. “Time to eat!” Kohli serves his mum and waits for the verdict. She nods her head in appreciation and Kohli is happy. “I must be a good teacher,” she laughs.
Now it’s time for dessert and wife Yamini’s moment in the limelight. “You’re going to be eating something deadly,” he says, recalling how Yamini had made it to celebrate his first birthday after the couple started dating. “The way to a man’s heart is truly through his stomach. The dessert was so gooey, I got stuck,” he laughs out loud.
The sliced bananas, fried in butter, drizzled with fresh vanilla essence, flambéed in brandy and served with vanilla ice cream, is a decadent treat. Mothers do know best. Marry boys who can cook.
Tasty Tasty Noodles
1 pack of noodles
100g French beans
3 shoots of green onions
1 red bell pepper
1/4 cup peas
4 flakes garlic
3 green chillies
3 tbsp vinegar
3 tbsp soy sauce
Salt to taste
Capsico sauce if needed
2 sausages sliced, salami slices, or bacon strips
2 eggs made into a plain omelette and cut into strips
Slice vegetables in either strips or small cubes and keep aside. Slice the green chillies and garlic. Boil the noodles, drain, add a tablespoon of oil and keep aside. In a deep wok or pan, put 3 tbsp oil and on a high flame, add garlic, green chillies and quickly add the onions, beans, peas and carrots. Stir-fry on high heat. Add noodles, soy sauce, vinegar and all other ingredients except bacon, sausages and omelette.
Stir-fry rapidly and switch off the flame. In a separate pan, sauté salami and sausages and cut into small pieces. Toss noodles into a dish, and garnish with sausages, salami and omelette strips.
100g yellow or red bell peppers
Whole red chillies to taste
8 flakes of garlic
A handful of cashewnuts
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp vinegar
Salt to taste
Clean and cut mushrooms into quarters, break broccoli into large florets, slice capsicum into quarters, mull the red chillies and slice garlic flakes.
In a wok, or open pan, add 1 tbsp oil followed by broken red chillies, garlic and whole cashewnuts and allow a minute to fry. Add a tablespoon of oil, toss in the broccoli on high flame, followed by the mushrooms and other vegetables. Sauté quickly and add the soy sauce, vinegar and salt to taste. Serve.