When you're planning to get fit, a diet of aloo parathas will most likely be on your foods to avoid list but for Preeti Kuntal, it's this classic delicacy that set her on the path to becoming an athlete. "My mother's aloo paratha changed my life," she says, on being asked why she chose to nominate this particular dish for Amma Superstar, the latest show on Living Foodz which airs every Tuesday and Wednesday at 2.30 pm.
The self-confessed "big foodie" has been passionate about food from a young age but the passion didn't extend to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. "I used to be quite fat when I was a teenager," she says. While her father came from an army background and the rest of her immediate family too followed a disciplined routine of morning walks, the 25-year-old says she was a nonchalant "couch potato". "The physical activity in my life was zero," she says.
Describing her love for her mother's aloo paratha, Preeti says, "I didn't need an alarm to wake up in the morning." The whiff of aloo parathas cooking in the kitchen of her Mathura home was enough to rouse her out of sleep. "I used to eat at least five to six parathas daily at that time. My weakness for aloo parathas was such that often I missed the school bus."
The tipping point came when engrossed in her breakfast of aloo parathas, Preeti skipped appearing for her pre-board exams. Her mother would have no more of it. Determined to get Preeti to change her ways, her mother, Indra, gave her an ultimatum. "She told me that if I didn't start some form of exercise, she would not make aloo paratha for me anymore."
The condition was aloo paratha once a week only if Preeti developed the habit of some physical activity. "Or else not even that," she recollects the words that filled terror in the teenage Preeti. She describes the time as nothing short of "torturous".
With the weekly feast of her favourite aloo paratha motivating her, Preeti began her journey towards a fit lifestyle. "Initially I was forced into sports but gradually I started enjoying it." In no time, Preeti was appointed the sports captain of her school and went on to play volleyball at the state-level. When she moved to Delhi for further studies, she joined a gym. Preeti was then initiated into powerlifting and went on to bag a gold medal at the Delhi state powerlifting championship. "Once I got the kick, I never left it," says Preeti, whose latest achievement is getting selected for Roadies Xtreme. "My mother introduced me to the real me," she says. "If my mother didn't motivate me with 'mere aloo ke parathe', I wouldn't have been where I am today."
She may have adopted a healthier lifestyle but Preeti's original love for aloo paratha remains. It's been nine years since she moved out of her hometown but even now when her mother visits, aloo paratha is the first thing she makes for Preeti, no questions asked. Of course, she learnt to make them herself too. "My mother says I make them so good that I could give her competition," she laughs.
"They called me the brand ambassador of aloo paratha on the show," says Preeti, talking about her experience of being on the set of Amma Superstar. "It didn't feel like I was on the set of a TV show. It felt like I had gone over to a close friend's home. We chatted and then went to the kitchen to make some aloo parathas." It was an emotional moment for the mother-daughter duo to share their story on camera. "To be on such a platform and talk about how her daughter overcame her weaknesses is something my mother had never imagined. She was a mix of nervous, excited and proud," says Preeti.
Join Preeti, Indra and Chef Pallavi Nigam Sahay as they cook and chat about the special aloo paratha and much more on Amma Superstar. Watch Amma Superstar every Tuesday and Wednesday at 2.30 pm andCatch the repeat telecast every Tuesday and Wednesday at 5 pm and 8 pm.
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