Tasting Bollywood: Films that Inspired What I Ate In India

30 Jan

Do you ever find yourself wanting to be like a character you’ve seen in a film? Of course you do! You know you want to shake it like Pinky. But do you ever find yourself wanting to eat like them? I sure do!

I love food. I also love films. What do you get when you combine the two? My constant desire to eat the foods I’ve seen on screen. You must know the feeling – if you’ve seen the movie Chef, specifically the grilled cheese scene in the movie Chef, then you’ll understand what I’m talking about! I tend to make mental notes of the treats featured in films only to later enjoy the real deal. I’m not kidding; immediately after watching The Avengers I ran around the city looking for shwarma. When it comes to Bollywood, my film-food obsession is just as strong. This summer, as I took my first trip to India to attend a friend’s wedding I received  (and googled) a lot of advice on what I should see, do and most importantly, eat. While I got some great insider tips, my gastronomic experience was most heavily influenced by my incessant movie watching and the delicious foods of Bollywood. Below is a list of the films (and their foods) that shaped my culinary journey.

#1. The Inspiration: Band Baajaa Baaraat. The Food: Bread Pakora

Being a huge Ranveer Singh fan I have seen his debut film quite a few times. Maybe I watched it when I was particular hungry but the scene in which Bittoo and Shruti discuss her business venture over bread pakoras was stuck in my head after first viewing. To be honest with you, I didn’t even know what a bread pakora was but I knew it involved two things that I loved: bread and fried things! I don’t eat too may treats like this anymore but like we all know, it’s all about balance! So a bread pakora here and there is ok. Lucky for me, these items were on the menu at my friend Shivani’s sangeet. I had one – or two – and now I can’t watch this scene without feeling major hunger pangs. See for yourself:

#2: The Inspiration: Ladies Vs. Ricky Bahl. The Food: Kulfi

Remember when I said I was a huge Ranveer Singh fan? Well the evidence is in how may times I watched this very questionable movie. I can’t lie – on some level I enjoy it even though I know it’s not making any top 10 lists… like anywhere. Ranveer Singh rapping? I could probably live without it. But back to the food. In one scene Ricky, the con artist and protagonist of our film, is posing as Iqbal Khan (my favorite of his alternate identities) and takes a stroll with Saira (yet another lady who fell for his charm) through the garment district of Hazratganj . He asks if she wants a cold drink, she counters with a request for kulfi, a rich, dense ice cream. Saira, you’re a girl after my own heart! They don’t really show the kulfi for that long but it was long enough to make me want it. BAD. And I had it – a few times. Malai, mango, rose water… you get the picture.

Movie title sound familiar? You might have done Doonya’s routine to the film’s song Thug Le to burn off those kulfi calories!

#3. The Inspiration: Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. The Food: Gol Goppa

I’ve mentioned this item in a past blog but since this is strictly Bollywood focused, it’s worth repeating. This film has two delicious foods: gol goppa (or paani puri) and biryani. In the gol goppa scene, the two main characters are competing to see who can eat the most. As a viewer, you’re meant to be seriously grossed out at the sight of the characters messily eating these bite sized treats but seeing the sauce drip down their bloated faces only served to intrigue me more! The second item featured in this film is biryani, a savory dish made with rice and what I can only assume is some form of magic. Interestingly, this scene directly follows the gol gappa scene. and you’re really supposed to feel bad for the main character as he is forced to eat an entire dinner after just finishing this “competition” – but I didn’t! In fact, I myself ate both of these tasty items at the wedding! Although, I probably didn’t eat as much as they did. Watch the deliciousness unfold below:

#4 The Movie: Gunday. The Food: Roti.

A staple of Indian cuisine, I was probably bound to have roti at some point (and I did – a lot!) but what made me want to eat it was a fight scene in the movie Gunday. In the scene, the two former best friends Bikram and Bala engage in an all out brawl – complete with missing shirts and greasy muscles… are you now getting why this is one of my my favorite movies? When the fight is over, a betrayed Bikram reminds Bala of  what a good friend he was and, among other things, mentions that when they were children he used to share his roti with him. I’m getting a little misty just thinking about the bromantic power of this scene! There’s also a scene later in the film where Bala tries to feed a piece of the bread to Nandita, played by the lovely Priyanka Chopra. Um… that is my dream!  Like I said, roti might be pretty standard but now when you eat it you can pretend that Arjun Kapoor is feeding you, and ain’t that just a little bit better?

Gunday is not only one of my personal favorites films but is also responsible for song obsession of 2014 – Tune Maari Entriyaan. Luckily my peeps at Doonya have my back and created a routine to it! Check it out here:

#5. The Movie: Don. The Food: Paan

Ok so this technically isn’t a “food” per se but it is chewed so I’m counting it. I also technically didn’t eat this while in India but I did eat it because of a film so again, counting it! Naive as I was, I first heard about Paan from the song “Khaike Paan.” Even after hearing the song I had little idea of what it actually was but I did know one thing – Shah Rukh Khan was singing about it, and that was good enough for me. I made my desire to try paan known to a friend and was promptly advised not to try it – but I went ahead anyway. While it wasn’t as fun and glamorous as the song made it seem, I’m glad I tried it. While my first time was probably my last, I’ll never stop grooving to this jam!

#6. The Inspiration: 2 States. The food: Sambar

Sambar is another food introduced to me through the magic of film. In 2 States, the two main characters meet on the lunch line when the female protagonist Ananya states her displeasure with the school cafeteria’s “so called” Sambar – which according to wikipedia is “a lentil based vegetable stew or chowder based on a broth made with tamarind.” Now, the two conclusions I made in regards to this scene were that A) Arjun Kapoor’s eyebrows are amazing and B) Sambar must be really good if this chick is throwing a fit over it! And you know what? It is! My post-wedding breakfast consisted of sambar and idlis; the perfect end to a week of festivities.  Now, I could show you a picture of Sambar for reference or I could show you one of my favorite songs (and Doonya routine) from the movie. What do you think it’ll be? You thought right!

These films guided my culinary journey and I don’t regret a thing – I knew my B-town stars wouldn’t let me down. Upon returning, I was pleased to see that even though I indulged a bit more than I would at home, I didn’t gain any weight while away. I can only credit that to the super fun nightly sangeet dance practices where I went all out each time for maximum calorie burnage! If you want to nosh you’ve got to naach, you know what I mean? And I did, especially at the sangeet itself where I busted out some of my best Doonya moves for a few hours of uninterrupted cardio. Seriously – I danced it out to the point where I think I missed the actual dinner! Good thing I had those bread pakoras to sustain me. Those count as complex carbs right?

Have you ever been inspired to try something new after watching a movie? Let me know!

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