We caught up with former cricketer and politician Kirti Azad on the sets of Taste Match--Khiladi Wahi Khel Naya, the new show on Living Foodz. As we step into his vanity van, the flamboyant batsman orders for a cup of tea. His instructions are clear: no sugar. He explains, "I drink my tea and coffee without sugar, because sugar takes away from the robust taste and flavour of the beverage. But trust me, I love my mithais." He's a guest on Taste Match, hosted by his peer Sandeep Patil--they played together in the historic 1983 World Cup and are close friends. Speaking of Patil's impressive culinary skills that are on display in the show, Azad says, "I am looking forward to being treated to a grand spread by Sandeep. When he comes to Delhi, I will return the favour by cooking for him."
We begin to talk about his experiments in the kitchen, and he confesses to being a foodie, "I love to eat. I like spicy food. Life is too short, so enjoy your food." When asked about his choice of protein, he quips, "Chicken is for kids. I like my red meat although I know it is not good for the heart." He admits to cooking a mean Mutton Korma and a flavourful Mutton Lababdar for his family and guests, as well as some lovely steamed fish.
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An avid traveller, Azad recalls that his favourite culinary experience was at Gerrard's Corner in London Chinatown, "They serve amazing Indonesian specialties, besides other cuisines. Back home, I love China Garden and their Butter-Garlic Crabs. I love to dig in, dirty my hands and often need a bib. My favourite cuisine is Chinese, but I remember having a weird experience in Shanghai. I thought I would eat authentic Chinese food, but we were served mostly street-food variants. I couldn't tell what meat it was, whether it was a snake, a dog or a cat. That food seemed alien to me and the language barrier just made my taste buds gawk."
And then of course, there was the 1983 World Cup win which was celebrated with fine champagne that paired well with caviar. Speaking about the typical diet during a tournament, he points out that during his cricketing days there were no dietary restrictions as long as one was burning the calories and practicing hard.
The aggressive right-hand batsman lets us in on a secret from former captain Kapil Dev's plate, "He would have a lot of desi ghee because it is good for your joints. Kapil didn't have a single injury during his cricketing career. But you can't say the same for the current lot," he quickly adds.
The quickish offspinner reminisces about his cricketing days and points out that there's a stark difference between the fitness routine of the current cricket team and that of the World Cup-winning team of 1983.
Off season, he would run from India Gate to the Rashtrapati Bhawan, an approximate distance of 4.5 kilometres, to keep himself fit and up his stamina. "Fitness during our time was all about fitness on the field. Match fitness and ground fitness is different from going to a gym. Today's generation hits the gym hard, but that only tones or bulks up your muscles," explains Azad.
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