Come dine with me - Manasi Parekh on her love of food

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“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”  - George Bernard Shaw



Manasi is undoubtedly our favorite actor on television. A lot of it may have to do with the fact that she is “Gulaal” (and you know we can gush about that forever) but, she is also the complete woman – a role model for girls and women all over. She can sing, she can dance, she can act, she is a passionate photographer, a voracious reader, a complete foodaholic and she still manages to maintain that slim waist! Ok, ok so we all enjoy good food but Manasi takes her ‘foodieness’ to a whole new level. She loves to tuck in but she is also a fabulous cook and often indulges her friends and family to her exquisite meals. In fact, most of her co-actors from Gulaal cannot stop raving about her scrumptious cooking! Tinsel Gupshup stirs the pot in a mouth watering conversation with Manasi Parekh.



TG: What was the first thing you ever learnt to cook?

MP: The first thing my mom taught me how to make was a roti. She was very particular that I learnt how to make them because she said that if you can make a roti, you can make anything! I remember, for me it was not like oh God, I have to get into the kitchen rather, I was like oh wow I have to go into the kitchen! My mother and my maternal grandfather are passionate about food and cooking so I have grown up in a family where food has always been the focal point in bringing everyone together.




TG: What is your specialty or signature dish?

MP: My specialty signature dish, hmmm...I think I can make a really yummy Burmese ‘Khao Suey’. It is a Burmese dish with rice noodles and vegetables in a coconut cream sauce. I make that very well so that would be my specialty.




TG: Friends coming over for dinner, what will be on your menu?

MP: I am very innovative. I like to experiment and try out new things and cuisines so Italian, Chinese…The last time my friends came over, I had a Chinese menu complete with Fortune cookies and all. So I try to follow a theme and create an ambience and atmosphere around that theme. I don’t bake very well so I bought the fortune cookies, wrote these fun, quirky chits and slipped them inside the cookies and my friends were completely scandalized. Apart from the cookies and Brownies, everything else was made by me. So we had crispy Tofu, fried Mushrooms in a hot Garlic sauce, Lettuce with stir-fried vegetables, fried rice with Broccoli and Corn in a sweet n sour Coriander sauce. For dessert we had sizzling Brownies with ice cream and a hot chocolate sauce.




TG: What is the one thing you have no success with when you try to cook it?

MP: I can’t bake very well maybe because I never really learnt it when I was younger. I have tried to bake once or twice but it has not come out too well. I think I just need to learn the techniques and be more aware of what is required when baking.  Also, I don’t have a good oven right now so hopefully when I get one, I’ll start baking in full swing.



TG: Your mom’s cooking – what do you crave for?

MP: Oh my God…my mom’s cooking!! The last time I was home, she decided to cook something for me and she made this brilliant Dim Sum soup! My mom is such a great cook, I mean if I am good, she is simply fabulous! Food is literally her passion…I mean, she just thinks, talks and discusses food. We do have a cook at home so it’s not like she has to cook but she is just so passionate about it and she really enjoys cooking. Everything in her kitchen is made from scratch – sauces, pickles, jams, masalas…everything is made at home. Whenever I go home there is always something exciting happening in terms of food.




TG: A few ingredients / vegetables that you completely avoid in your cooking because you just don’t like them

MP: I don’t really like Aubergine however, I was in the US and my cousin took me to Olive Garden where I had this brilliant Aubergine lasagna…that sort of converted me. When I cook, I avoid Aubergine and Karela. My husband has Karela juice every morning but I just cannot deal with it. A few days back, I decided to try that juice and believe me after I had gulped it down I just had this horrible after taste for half an hour or so. So never again!



TG: Have you ever made a meal for your parents? How did they like it?

MP: Ummm...the first time I cooked for my parents I was in the eighth grade and I made a Punjabi meal. I made Paneer, Pulao, Raita and Paranthas. I got help for the paranthas because I am not very good with it. So I made this Punjabi meal for them and they loved it!



TG: What is the best compliment you have received about your cooking?

MP: Actually, the compliments that come from my husband mean a lot to me. Whenever I have time off, I try and ensure that we have at least one meal together because when he travels and I am busy, it gets very difficult to catch up. So last night I made a nice Pumpkin soup, Bean salad with honey dressing and Bruschetta. My husband complained that I was just spoiling him because now, if he travels or goes to someone’s place for dinner he wishes he was home since he misses my cooking! That is such a wonderful compliment for me. I feel that home is a sacred space…you cook, you eat together, have conversations and if the meal is good then it makes everything else just so much better.


The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” Julia Child



TG: Do you prefer fine dining / casual / fast food / street food?

MP: Everything! I mean, I am a foodie. I could be eating vada pao on the road one day and the next day I could be eating at a Japanese restaurant. The food just has to be good and the company has to be even better.




TG: Do you have a sweet tooth? What dessert do you make best?

MP: No, not really. Not much of a sweet person. I am more into spicy foods.  In fact, I am such a foodie that I watch television shows like ‘Come dine with me’, ‘Master Chef’….basically I watch every cooking show. Even on my blog there is a separate section on food…I think it is almost like an obsession. People don’t believe that I am such a complete foodie, maybe because I am thin but the fact is that I just love food. In fact I was in NY and I bought Anthony Bourdain’s book – his memoirs. So I make sure that I keep myself updated on anything to do with food through shows, books etc.




TG: What is the most exotic thing you have cooked?

MP: Ummm…I think it would be this dish called Veg Taro Net. Basically you make this net with fried Hakka noodles and they are fried in a way that they form a bowl. Then you stuff it with vegetables stir fried in a chili garlic sauce.



TG: Do you follow recipes or improvise?

MP: I do follow recipes but I don’t do so measure by measure.  



TG: What is your absolutely favorite meal? Is it something you make for yourself or someone else’s specialty? What is your comfort food?

MP: The thing is that I never go to food for comfort. I know a lot of people who will eat when they are feeling low or stressed out. What’s interesting is that even though I am a huge foodie, I am very balanced about my meals and I only eat two meals. I do indulge in snacking occasionally but the concept of comfort food does not exist for me. In terms of my favorite meal, I could enjoy something as simple and wholesome like Dal Chawal or maybe homemade lasagna…all depends on what I feel like. In fact I made lasagna at home a few days back. I took this gourmet cooking class and we had to make everything from scratch so I learnt how to make pasta sheets, tried it out at home and it turned out pretty well. 




TG: If you had a chance to host or participate in a cook off…would you?

MP: Oh wow!! That would be a dream come true. I might consider hosting a cook-off show but I don’t know about competing in one.  Their standards are just so high and I am not a professional chef, I am just somebody who loves experimenting and trying out new things. Even though most of the contestants in Master Chef are not professionals, they are hardcore and I don’t consider myself to be at that level just yet. Maybe in the future, when I know more and have a bit more experience…maybe. I think you need to be consistent to cook with that kind of perfection but you never know…never say never. I am not worried about the pressure because I am very good with that, in fact I think my best work comes out when I am under pressure. Hosting a food show will be a dream come true for sure!




So, we can’t have a conversation with Manasi and not ask her about Gulaal…right? Tinsel Gupshup gives all Gulaal fans one for the road!


TG: What was your favorite Gulaal scene?

MP: Aaaahhhhh…there were quite a few heavy duty, powerful scenes. Two scenes come to mind, one was when Dushyant kidnapped Gulaal and took her to that old, dilapidated hut in the middle of nowhere. She was unconscious; he tied her to the bed and waited for her to come out of it. I think that scene was just brilliant, Sushant was just superb. Gulaal and Dushyant had this huge argument; I was trying to fight him while he was trying to hold me back. That was an intense scene.



The second scene was when she realizes that she is in love with Kesar…



TG: You mean the last part of the show…

MP: No. That was when she confesses her love but there was this one scene earlier on. I really underplayed that scene and as the actor, I know it but I don’t think the audience would have caught on to it. It was the scene where Kesar storms into her room when he is drunk…



TG: You mean the “Pareshaani” scene? GASP!! (Ok, we literally gasped at this point)

MP: Yes. In that scene it was very clear that Kesar is in love with Gulaal but he is confused and trying to figure out what is happening. So my character was not supposed to be showing too much emotion and that is why the realization was underplayed for Gulaal. You know, what happens is that she tries to shut him off so she draws her dupatta back on her head and it was almost like she had let herself go for a few seconds and then pulls herself back together again! That was definitely one of my favorite scenes.


Food may be her obsession but there is nothing in life that Manasi will not put her passion and energy to. We will have the pleasure of seeing her on TV really soon and hopefully someday she might just decide to take on Master Chef or maybe even start her own cooking show! In the mean time, all this talk of scrumptious food has made us hungry…so, Chinese anyone?


Photo credit: Manasi Parekh


© Tinsel Gupshup 

Piu Chatterjee
Aug 29, 2012
hank you so much TG for this wonderful interview of Manasi..She is one dynamic woman who has caRved a niche for herself in every field and loved how the interview brought into light a whole new aspect of Manasi the foodie..What a wonderful interview ..And could I say THANKS In fact I am elated to read her take on Gulaal and her fav scenes...The pareshaani scene was indeed my fav and I am glad how Manasi actually explained the whole sequence..Needless to say that she was wonderful in that scene.....GREAT EFFORT TG!! KEEP ROCKING !! AND MANASI WE LOVE YOU !!

Piu Chatterjee
Aug 29, 2012
and I so much agree with Manasi regarding the pareshaani scene for a moment Gulaal indeed had this realization..the drop of her tear from her eyes when Kesar asks her kyun??????? it did symbolize that she felt that TUG in her heart..It was not shock coz for a fraction of a second..we saw a vulnerable side of hers..Yes she was VULNERABLE!!And also the way she says mujhe dard ho raha hai Kesar though it was said lierally meant for physical pain but yes his words did HURT her in the heart..She was in pain and she snaps reality Ahhh Such a brilliant scene and both of them were BRILLIANT!!Manasi you are adorable and the more we get to know you The more we reaspect you...TG take my hugs for such a meaningful and interesting interview.

Aug 28, 2012
wow lovely interview..and to a singer to a theatre artist to a actress to a model to a photographer to writer to a poetess to a cook...phew anything left....she is the most talented actress love her and i m amused like gasp gasp gasp gulaal was in love in that pareshaani scene gosh i never knew that....and then y she didnt remembered kesar in vrat savitri and remained so cold hearted wen he was suffering from a high fever i thought she was falling in love with keasr as a woman after she broke deeyarvattu from her....gosh what a masterpiece it is..... i need to watch the show again will now watch it keeping this factor in mind thanks a lot TG and thanks a lot MP we love u alot

Aug 28, 2012
Manasi, Loved your interview. You are indeed a role model to all the young women out here :) I really love you for the person you are... And the pareshani scene was just wow, thank you for letting us know regarding the scene. Thanks TG for such a wonderful article.

Aug 27, 2012
Ah....So the foodie mansi, the photographer Mansi, the actor, and hundreds things more Manasi....And ofcourse THE PARESHAANI Scene!! Gosh...she played it..or rather underplayed it so WONDERFULLY!!!

Aug 27, 2012
What a mouth watering article.I enjoyed reading it.Her experience with Karela juice cracked me up.aah the "Pareshani scene"!Thank you so much TG for that question.No wonder the scene was so intense.

Aug 27, 2012
loved it..she is multi talented..and this was such a refreshing interview..gosh she is knowledgable when it comes to food..after all she is a cancerian ..she has to be a foodie :)..and pareshaani scen

Aug 27, 2012
and pareshaani scene she was in love with kesar is totally shocking for never came out that way..thanks TG for bringing us closer to Manasi :)

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