From butter chicken to vada pav, food shows and social media, former Dilliwallahs, TV host Mini Mathur and chef Saransh Goila talk shop
Chef Saransh Goila and TV personality Mini Mathur at Silver Beach Cafe, Juhu. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar
The glass walls overlooking a quiet street at Silver Beach Café are misty. Chef Saransh Goila is early and orders a plate of Eggs Benedict, Beetroot Cous Cous Salad and a glass each of orange and carrot juice, choices that TV host Mini Mathur is happy with when she walks in. “The last time we met we were both drunk,” Mathur says animatedly. Both TV stars are currently hosting digital food shows. Goila has married his two loves — fitness and food — for his Facebook show Run to Eat (Singapore). Mathur has been cooking with Bollywood stars for her show The Mini Truck. One is a trained chef and the other a home cook, but when they speak, their love for rich traditional food takes over.
Sabhnani: How did an erstwhile vegetarian chef move to selling butter chicken?
Goila: In Delhi, my vegetarian family was tired of eating sweet paneer. So I smoked the gravy for them. That’s how I came up with it. My friends in Mumbai loved it. We are actually Goels, my great-grandfather changed it to ‘Goila’. When I was opening Goila Butter Chicken, my dad got calls asking him, ‘Can’t he just call it Saransh’s Butter Chicken?’ Once I graduated, I realised you cannot be a chef who is vegetarian.
Mathur: Mera butter chicken khaake dekho, hum bhi Dilliwalle hai! I am a Kayasth married to a Hyderabadi. Both the families are very proud of traditional recipes. I hate bastardised versions of food — if someone gave me Szechuan dosa, I’d spit on them! Every Diwali, I pickle six kilos of aloo or chana for achaar. I will make some for you and you can give me butter chicken instead.
Sabhnani: Your new shows are shot internationally, though…
Mathur: My next show, Mini Me, is about a bad**s mum travelling with her seven-year-old. We went to 15 cities across six countries in Europe in 25 days. It was originally shot for digital viewing, but a channel picked it up.
Goila: Run to Eat (Singapore) was originally supposed to be shot in India, but I didn’t get support from the state tourism boards.
Sabhnani: You must have collected many stories while shooting.
Goila: Once, on an uphill trek in Himachal, we saw a tree full of apples. As soon as I plucked one, I slipped. I quickly grabbed a branch or I would have rolled down the hill. Things you do for apples and shots!
Mathur: Sunny Leone is such a cool woman. When she shot for my show, she said things like, ‘Now let’s grind.’ I had to control my crew.
Sabhnani: Was the shift to digital platforms a natural progression?
Mathur: Digital is the future. The problem is figuring out how to monetise it.
Goila: Every time I enter a house party, there is a group of people watching something on their phones. My mom wants a Chromecast!
Mathur: People are waking up to the fact that watching TV at an appointed time is not necessary.
Eggs Benedict, Beetroot Cous Cous Salad and juices arrive
Goila: My plate looks beautiful! They have made an effort.
Mathur: Do you always shoot your food before you eat? The whole thing of ‘let’s tuck in yaar’ is not happening any more.
Sabhnani: The impact of social media is huge…
Goila: People explore social media, and not colleges, for learning, which is fine. But one out of 100 people succeeds that way.
Mathur: I mostly find positivity on Instagram and YouTube. Twitter is a different universe.
Goila: Sometimes you have to choose to ignore it [trolls]. It’s also driven by brands and PR.
Mathur: Today, you can backslap a star online and say, ‘Hey, I don’t like your moustache!’
Sabhnani: Do looks matter?
Goila: I am not the best-looking chef in the country. I generally believe in fitness (I used weigh 93kg). You can’t judge a chef by his belly, though.
Mathur: If you are good-looking, it can’t harm you.
Sabhnani: Dilliwallah’s take on Mumbai’s food?
Mathur: I love Maharashtra’s coastal cuisine. Mumbai should give up on chaat; vada pav is your thing. The Mughlai scene is better in the north.
Goila: The international cuisine spread is better in Mumbai.
Mathur: Eat food at the place where it comes from. Don’t go asking for vada pavs in Delhi.