The South, through a bowl of curd: on Khushboo and her love for South Indian cuisine

Actor-turned-politician Kushboo Sundar   | Photo Credit: Reuters

Her fans in Tamil Nadu built a temple for her. A chef in Erode named an idli after her. Khushboo who debuted in Tamil with Dharmathin Thalaivan (1988) has now taken a break from her three decade-long career in Kollywood, to concentrate on her political career.

She says she inherited her passion for cooking from her mother. She hardly had any time to cook until she married director Sundar C.


“My husband and daughters have different tastes and I give clear instructions to our cook to ensure each of them gets to eat what they like,” Khusbhoo says, adding that packing lunch for her kids was a challenge.

“I used to come up with various tricks to make them eat healthy food. If I give them carrot fingers, then I will also keep a chocolate in their lunch box. I also ensure they eat spinach, and the best way was to cook spinach and blend it, then add chicken or mutton and make it irresistible.”

As a child, she says she loved watching her mother in the kitchen. Her mother patiently taught Khushboo how to knead atta for chapathi.

The South, through a bowl of curd: on Khushboo and her love for South Indian cuisine

Amma would insist that when I knead the dough, there be no residue on the plate or on the fingers. And the chapathi had to be rolled in perfect shape in one or two strokes.”

Khushboo says she has learnt how to make Yakhni pulav from her mother. It did, however, take time to perfect the dish. Yakhni pulav is made with rice and mutton. The masala needs to be distinct and the flavours subtle. The mutton for this dish is marinated overnight and cooked the next day with rice. The spices are tied in a muslin cloth and added to the rice.

“When that pulav is made at home. there is a fantastic aroma and it is such a flavourful dish,” Khushboo says.

She says she also makes bisibele bath, payasam, a variety of cakes and caramel custard. “What I did not learn to prepare was khichda, which my mother was an expert at.”

Though Khusboo says she now enjoys South Indian food, it took her a while to incorporate it in her daily diet after she shifted base to Chennai.

The South, through a bowl of curd: on Khushboo and her love for South Indian cuisine

“South Indian tiffin items such as dosa, pongal, rasa vada and idli were exotic food for us in Mumbai, and we used to go to South Indian restaurants once in a blue moon. But eating all this daily was not exciting for me, and it took a long time to get adjusted to it. That is because I just cannot eat hot, spicy and sour food. So, during shooting I used to sprinkle sugar on curd rice made with fresh curd and eat it.”

Having lived in South India for over three decades, she now has a few favourites“I love ghee and I can have pongal for all meals. Cooked dal or paruppu podi with ghee is more than sufficient for me. And when I go out with friends/family, my food will be like dessert for them, as I prefer sweet food.”

Her daughters Avanthika and Anandita are foodies and decide where and when the family eats out.

When it comes to South Indian food, Udipi style is Khusbhoo’s all-time favourite. When travelling in Karnataka she makes it a point to eat at small joints by the roadside and in villages. When in Hyderabad, she always tries to go only to Chutney’s Restaurant.

“I have eaten street food in Chennai as well. I live in Santhome, and I am a regular at small eateries surrounding the Kapaleeswara Temple in Mylapore. I have eaten diverse types of food across the globe and in India. But my favourite food is curd rice. And I have learnt to make it the way I like it from my best friend Sujatha Vijaykumar. She is an amazing cook and can prepare many dishes in a short time. She makes the world’s best thayir sadam,” says Khushboo.

(A fortnightly column where film personalities talk about their trysts with food)

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Printable version | Nov 20, 2020 4:45:06 AM |

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