Keeping this in mind, he took up assistant directors’ jobs to learn the trade and participated in various reality shows. His most memorable experience was dancing in front of actor Vijay in the reality show Jodi No 1. Since then there has been no looking back and he has become one of the most popular TV stars after acting in seven movies. He is currently working on the Tamil serial Yaaradi Nee Mohini. Shree’s wife Shamitha, like his mother, is not only a wonderful cook but ensures that healthy, protein-rich food is served to her family.
Shree searches for every health-related news and articles and has discovered an ideal healthy diet that does not make one crave or put on weight but keeps satiated and happy. Shree tells me, “Eat all your favourite food, but the portion size is most important and do daily workouts. I start my day with a glass of fresh lemon juice, amla juice and honey. I am not addicted to tea or coffee but love the smell of freshly made coffee.” His breakfast includes fruits or a bowl of porridge or a multi-grain cereal. Shamitha packs all his short eats and lunch for him to take for shooting. Lunch would be rotis or millets or quinoa with sambar or dal, a salad, and vegetables. He eats grilled fish and chicken twice a week. Sometimes, Shree also has grilled paneer with pepper and cumin. In between meals, the actor satisfies his hunger pangs with nuts and fresh fruits. Dinner is usually one or two idlis. On Sundays, Shree visit his parent’s place — his favourite chicken and fish curry will be on the table along with a variety of dishes.
Millets have existed in India from pre-historic times. The varieties grown were given an impetus by various kingdoms which ruled at that time. During the rule of the Vijayanagar kingdom, millets of various kinds were cultivated to make dishes like rotis, payasam, porridges, ragi wheat dosa, etc. Those days, tribals, farmers and the poor used to consume millets. Researches have proved that millets have more nutritional value when compared to rice. Bajra, jowar, kodo and foxtail millets are now gaining favour with many.
Various new dishes have been made like mixed millet bhel puri, kodo millet burger, bajra tartlets with fruit custard, ragi wheat dosa, jowar medley, foxtail millet porridge, baked ragi chakli and so on. Some of the millets’ Tamil names are kelvaragu, thinai, samai. Today, Shree shares the recipe of foxtail millet tomato biryani for health-conscious readers.
Foxtail Millet Tomato Biryani Recipe
Ingredients: Foxtail millet:11/2 cups, rinsed and soaked in water for 45 minutes and drained | Ghee: 11/2 tbsp | Sesame oil: 1 tbsp | Fennel seeds: 11/2 tsps | Green cardamom: 2 | Cloves: 2 | Cinnamon: 1 big piece | Green chillies: 2 slit | Onions: chopped -1 cup | Ginger-garlic paste: ¾ tsp | Pudina (mint) leaves: 1 cup | Tomatoes: 400 gm, finely chopped | Red chilly powder: 1 tsp | Garam masala powder: 11/2 tsp | Turmeric powder:1 tsp | Coconut milk: 1 cup | Water: 11/2 cups | Salt: to taste | Coriander leaves: ½ cup, finely chopped | Cashewnuts: 4, walnuts – 2, groundnuts: 6 (all chopped)
- Drain the soaked millet and keep it aside.
- Place a pressure cooker on gas and pour oil. When hot, add cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom and fennel seeds
- Add onions and saute for a few mins, add ginger-garlic paste and saute till both change colour
- Grind mint leaves with a little water and add to the masala
- Add tomatoes and saute till it is half cooked Add green chillies, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt, garam masala and saute a few minutes more. Add half the ghee. Add the soaked millet with water
- Add coconut milk and cook for one whistle only
- Fry the nuts in the remaining ghee separately
- Open the pressure cooker, serve biryani to a serving bowl, dress with fried nuts and coriander leaves
Shree’s kitchen tips
- Biryani must be had hot with raita and roasted papad
- Buy only Bengaluru tomatoes for this biryani
- Like rice, each millet pack is different, but the water measure should work correctly for all. If you prefer softer and mushy millet, add one more cup of water
— Chef Ramaa Shanker is the author of Festive Offerings to the Gods: Divine Soul Recipes