I’m a child of Hyderabad in the 80s. My days were ruled by Gold Spot, colour TV, Double Decker (the chocolate not the bus), Nataraj pencils, (imported) Tang, FLAMES, Boost (the secret to Kapil Dev’s energy), Amar Chitra Katha, Cadbury’s Gems, Bata canvas shoes, Phantom sugar cigarettes. And Bollywood. I would visit my grandparents in Bombay every summer, but the April of 1991 particularly stands out. It was the first time I met a real life celebrity. Thanks to some family connections my sister and I were packed into a car, with an unwilling journalist, on a tour of the many film studios in the city. We were told not to expect much. The stars are almost always shooting, sleeping or grumpy.
It must be because the first time I saw them they were giants on a 70mm screen. Movie stars were literally larger than life. Movie stars were enigmas and never in my wildest dreams did I even expect to see one in real life. Imagine the utter disbelief when we walked into Mehboob Studios and saw Sanjay Dutt’s 6-foot stardom looming over our 4-feet-nothing, gawky, teenage frames. Needless to say, we didn’t leave an impression.
My feelings for Sanjay Dutt have changed much since that hot summer day in 1991. Living in a non-digital age meant we had to wait for the end of the month for the new issue of a magazine to give us the dope on their lives. That the only way to get a new poster for my bedroom wall was to wait for a movie to release. It’s all too accessible now. They’re everywhere and I know too many stories. And no, I will not watch Sanju, which from everything I hear is a Walt Disney version of his life. Far too often I wish that I never ever meet famous people.
I make an exception for a real life rockstar though. Uday Benegal is the lead singer and creative behind Rock Machine (now Indus Creed), the band that influenced a tectonic shift for the Indian rock music scene in India in the 80s. Again, never did I imagine that I would be sharing dinner party conversation with this powerhouse of talent that I once saw rocking the stage at Rang Bhavan (now closed).
Uday Benegal will not be called a foodie. He loves food, cooks often and is unabashed about his love for cheap red wine because "it does the job". I hesitated a hundred times before asking him to write for India Food Network. I mean, he's a real rockstar, and a few chats about Koinonia's best coffee or his love for O Pedro or how he is a man who cooks hardly meant he would want to write about his food adventures.
I asked anyway. And he said yes! Yay! Each month Uday Benegal, rockstar and intrepid food lover will shed some light on how single men in India, and him in particular, are staving off malnourishment, in his column Fending For Myself.
In other news from India Food Network...
Ancient Mayan culture viewed cacao – which is where chocolate comes from – as a sacred element in their society. Chocolate is a religion for us too and on the occasion of World Chocolate Day we’re letting you in on our two favourite DIY chocolate desserts - Hot Chocolate and Chocolate Fondue. You can thank us later.
Savoury more your style? Then snuggle into this delicious Mushroom Soup by Kamini Patel, perfect with binge-watching brand new Netflix series Sacred Games.
Stay tuned for a whole lot of chai in the weeks to come. From delicious teas from across India to recipes that use tea as an ingredient in desserts, our chefs have been working overtime to get you the most creative chai dishes in town.