By Maheen Bajwa
Humsafar, Manto, and now food – Sarmad Khoosat certainly knows how to work his way into every Pakistani’s heart.
Women’s Own sits with the actor, director and screenwriter to discuss his new cooking show, his love for food, and the love story he’s working on next.
How come you decided to take on a cooking show?
I love everything to do with food, from eating to cooking. It’s a very different feeling and experience from my profession of directing. I recently launched my production company by the name of Khoosat Films, and this is our first project. I pitched the show to Urdu 1 and they picked it up immediately. The format of the show is very organic – it is about food and a bit of chit-chat with my guests. I would say it has a very sweet and cozy feel.
Since when have you been cooking? Where did you learn to cook?
I’ve always been extremely fascinated with food. I come from a diehard foodie family. My mom is Kashmiri, my father is a Punjabi Chaudhry, and my grandmother was from Delhi, so most conversations with my family revolved around food. I live on my own so I do most of my own cooking, and I must say I am much organised in the kitchen. Directing is so much brain work so I feel like I can relax in the kitchen.
How would you say your cooking show will be different? What cuisine will you be mainly focusing on?
It’s not a very corporate cooking show. The idea was not to strive to be different. It was actually about being more personal and real. Even my own dressing in the show is very casual – I’m generally wearing jeans and aprons – just the way I would be in my own kitchen. If I could describe the show in three words, it would be goodness, eating and personable! It is not an over-powdered or airbrushed show. My guests and I talk about food, the love for food, and of course Ramzan!
Which celebrities should we expect to see on your show?
All my friends and colleagues basically. I’m very blessed that most of my friends are actors and famous personalities. To name a few, I will have Mahira Khan, Mikhail, Saba Qamar, Juggun Kazim, Nadia Jamil, Reema, Imran Abbas and Maya Ali on the show. I am also lucky to have Vaneeza Ahmed on the show because she does not do public appearances anymore.
What are your show timings? So our followers can tune into your show.
The show is from 6:00pm to 6:30pm on Urdu 1. In each show we will have one savory food item and one drink. Occasionally we will make guilty pleasures such as cheese cakes. We will be discussing lots of different subjects from how to eat light in Ramzan to different kinds of oils to use. We also have lots of salads and healthy fresh stuff on the show!
Who are some of your favorite Pakistani chefs on TV?
(A loud laugh) Umm…I don’t have a local favourite as such. I like Shahi on Masala TV. She is quite enjoyable to watch. I also thoroughly enjoy Zubaida Appa’s show. You really learn a lot from her and her fun totkas! But for me the ultimate chef God would have to be Jamie Oliver. His absolute love and passion for food is something I just can’t get enough of. I will be using a lot of his concepts on my show.
You’re from Lahore, the city of food, so what are your favourite restaurants during Ramzan?
I would say old school Salt and Pepper. It’s safe and clean and also has that old school charm. I live in model town so another favourite would be Shop 67, the restaurant has fresh food and a new menu made every day. It’s a great place to go to when one wants good comfort food.
This is a bit off-topic from your cooking show, but are you looking forward to seeing the Indian version of Manto?
Absolutely! I’m not part of it but I am a close friend of Nandita Das. We frequently meet at different conferences to discuss our love for Manto. I think the film will be great and both films should be able to compliment one another. I am also thrilled that Nandita got Nawazuddin Siddiqui for Manto. When she was thinking of initially using Irfan, I wasn’t sure if he would have fit the bill. I always knew Nawazuddin would do brilliant as Manto!
Whats next after your show?
Mor Mahal is happening on the side and I am currently editing the shows. I want to make more films with my production company. My next film is a love story and I am currently writing it! I can’t wait to start the production side of it which will most likely begin next year.