Three distinct cuisines – Parsi, Muslim and Continental are featured in "Family Secrets," a debut cookbook by the wife of Bollywood actor-producer Sanjay Khan.
"The men in my family love to eat. It is true the way to a man’s heart is through the stomach. Nowadays a modern women does not want to cook for her family due to time constraints and career but I insist that at least one dish should be prepared by the women of the house to show love and affection towards her husband and family," says Zarine.
Known for hosting legendary parties, Zarine Khan a model-turned-homemaker launched her book published by Roli Books at the residence of Francois Richier, Ambassador of France to India here recently.
The event saw attendance of publisher Pramod Kapoor, Rajmata Padmini Devi of Jaipur, MP Shashi Tharoor and beauty expert and entrepreneur Shahnaz Husain besides husband Sanjay and daughters Farah Ali Khan and Simone Arora and other family members.
Zarine attributes her unique cooking style to her mother-in-law, Bibi Fatima Begum Khan. It was from her that Zarine says she inherited her household’s famous open kitchen, which she maintains till date.
"I would watch my mother-in-law Fatima Bibi supervise the preparation of meals. She would sit on a chair, have a sigree placed in front and oversee the proportions of ingredients being used," says Zarine.
"She always insisted on using fresh ingredients and masala. It was from her I realized that cooking is an art and one has to be patient while cooking," says the author.
Over the years, Khan accumulated the recipes which were handed down to her and on the insistence of her daughters she published the book. After their marriage she passed on these traditional recipes of the Khan family to them.
"Cooking is an art. You can’t rush cooking. You need to give time to each and every ingredient to develop the flavour and flirt with each other. One mistake which every one does is that they add in in all the masalas together, never do that," says Zarine.
Zarine’s cookbook is peppered with various anecdotes about the star-wife’s family. The featured recipes can be broadly divided into Parsi, Muslim and Continental – which are easy, use simple ingredients available in each and every home, extremely doable and the results are delicious.
"My 11-year-old grandson was going through the book and he said Nani this looks very delicious. I said yes but we cannot get it done because the cook will not understand English. So, he said he will make the dish. He literally went and made the dish. So, I asked him how did you understand. he said I just halved the ingredients written because we are not so many people. So it’s so easy," says Rajmata Padmini Devi of Jaipur
"We are a big family so in the book the ingredients and dishes are according to my family size. Readers need to be careful on that part and make changes in the measurements accordingly," says Zarine.
The mother hen of the Khan household is also an interior designer and helps out her daughters in their business too, but the preparation of a meal is the most important task of the day and she still overseas her cooks.
The classic recipes of biriyani, Khichra, kheema, kebabs and chops are loved by various members of the family. The men who love to eat also cook and have mastered the art of few dishes.
"Sanjay’s green masala chops, son Zayed’s lasagna and nephew Fardeen’s steak are to die for," says Zarine.
The book includes a few Parsi favourites like fish in white gravy or prawn patia. Fish fried in green masala, a great favourite of late actor Sunil Dutt’s, also finds a place in the book.
"Zarine was born a Parsi hence there are a lot of Parsi dishes in the book, She married into a Muslim family so there a lot of Mughlai dishes. Zarine’s mother was originally from Persia so Persian and continental recipies are also contained in the book. Going through her book cooking is all about art and science," says Tharoor.
Compellingly photographed and styled by well-known photographer Ashima Narain the tome contains casual pictures of the Khan family with the author sharing intimate details of what might be on the table when the star family gets together for theirSunday meal.