Through his over-two-decade-long career, he’s been in the acting, hospitality and personal security business. He stepped into Mihir Virani’s shoes in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and brought the character to life after Amar Upadhyay’s exit. Ditto Mr Bajaj in Kasautii Zindagi Kay and now, Dharamraj Mahiyavanshi in Bandini. Even though he’s been shooting for over 12 hours a day, Ronit Roy has now taken on a cookery show, Kitchen Champion, on Colors, that will air in two weeks time. The actor-host shares some of his culinary experiences:
Cooking doesn’t quite match your image.
(Laughs) No, it doesn’t! One finds it hard to imagine me in the kitchen rustling up a meal. And that’s precisely why I accepted the show. When Ashwini (Yardi, the channel’s programming head) came to me, I didn’t know how to react. I was stumped for a moment. Later, when we discussed the show’s format at length, I found myself fitting in, quite comfortably.
Will we actually see you cooking?
Not much. The format goes into multiple genres. It’s not a serious cookery show where the chef rustles up one recipe after another.We’ll have leading ladies from most of the shows on Colors exhibiting their cooking prowess. We’ll also have a master chef giving out recipes. There’s an element of both fun and seriousness.
Why did you choose Kitchen Champion to debut as an anchor?
No one outside my social circle has seen me cooking. I’ve never anchored a show in my life. It was a coming together of two different aspects and seemed a lot of fun. I’ve decided that I will pass on some of my culinary tips on the show. Stuff that I learnt during my bachelor days.
How old were you when you first entered the kitchen?
I must have been about 18. I started out with tea, toast and omlettes. I got it right, though not at the first attempt.
Do you still cook?
Yes, whenever I have some time, I enter the kitchen and take charge. I enjoy shopping with my wife Neelam for exotic food items. Though it’s one of the toughest dishes on the Italian menu to get right, I can assure you that I make a mean risotto. In fact, I make five-six different kinds of risottos. Honestly, I’ve never trained in cooking. During my bachelor days, I used to make Soya Muttar (Soya and Peas). My friends would bet that it was Keema Muttar (Minced Meat and Peas). They would lose their bet but relish the curry.
You’ve been in the hospitality business, right?
Yeah, that was at Sea Rock Hotel in the city, in the days when the hotel still existed. I have a lot of experiences from that job.
Like most celebrity cookery show hosts, is a cook book in the offing?
I can’t say whether it’ll happen in the immediate future. But whenever I come up with one, I can assure you it won’t be anything like the ones on the rack. My cookbook will have recipes on the go, things that you can cook in a matter of minutes. And the dishes will be healthy, wholesome and delicious.
For a man, his mother remains the best cook he knows, right?
Of course. I certainly believe that no one can match up to my mother’s
(cooking). She makes a cabbage dish in a curd base, which is one of my favourite vegetarian Bengali recipes. When I used to eat non-vegetarian food, I relished everything she made. In fact, her Bengali
is a meal in itself. Slurrrp!
I’m scared to cook for Neelam: Amar's meal for her
My wife keeps changing her food pattern every few months. Currently, she doesn’t include onion and garlic in her recipes. If I have to rustle up a meal for her right now, I wouldn’t know how to do it because I am from the old kitchen of thought where cooking starts with peeling onions. In fact, ginger, garlic and onion are my base ingredients.
I’ve cooked for my colleagues: Amar's tiffin service
When I was courting Neelam, I used to cook at home sometimes and take a ‘dabba’ (tiffin) for my colleagues. They would relish the food. Now, that I don’t have so much time, I rarely cook and take packed food to the sets.
Sanjeev glamourised food: Amar
Apart from being an excellent host and a master chef, Sanjeev Kapoor is also a dear friend. I’ve caught several episodes of his show on Zee TV. He’s precise with his tips and recipes. I like the food he makes. He is actually the one who has who glamourised food and cooking on TV.
Risotto: I love it so much that I’ve actually learnt how to make it. Three Cheese Risotto is my favourite.
Thai curry and rice: The green curry is rather nice and balanced.
Rajma-chawal: It’s my all-time favourite ‘khaana’ (meal). I can eat Rajma-chawal all the time.
Spices (J W Marriott): I love the food there. The spices actually taste like they’ve blended well.
Penne: It serves great Italian food.
Indigo Café: Being a suburb-denizen, I frequent Indigo at Lokhandwala for its great fare.