As Sachin Tendulkar turns 50, here’s looking at some of the Master Blaster’s milestones — as a foodie. From sampling new cuisines and dishes while on overseas tours with Team India, to the comfort food of his growing up years, there's plenty to establish his gourmet credentials.
FROM match-day morsels to the dishes of his youth, the cuisines he developed a ken for and the delicacies he sampled while overseas, Sachin Tendulkar is a delight when it comes to narrating anecdotes about food. On his birthday, here’s proof that the ace cricketer has always been epicurious.
Local Eats As Touring Treats
Keema Paratha — First Tour of Pakistan
In November of 1989, a then 16-year-old Sachin Tendulkar was on his first tour of Pakistan. When the tour ended, Sachin had played in four Tests and scored 215 runs. But the tour was memorable for more reasons than one. It was also where the ace cricketer discovered the pleasures of Pakistani food. A heavy breakfast was the first order of business for the teen during his stay in Pakistan, and it generally followed a set menu: keema paratha, and one glass of lassi. Heavy, but delicious, was how Sachin described those meals. He did skip lunch after practice sessions and ate his next meal directly at dinnertime, but piled on some pounds nonetheless. “When I got back to Mumbai and got on the weighing scale, I couldn’t believe it!” Sachin shared during an interview several years ago. “[But] I was only 16, and growing.”
Barbecued Meat — circa 2000, Zimbabwe
It was either in 2000 or 2001 that Sachin had a delightful foodie experience while in Zimbabwe. The members of the Indian team had decided to visit a game reserve. In the jungle, the boys in blue set up their own barbecue, and grilled chicken and sausages. The way Sachin has described that experience makes it seem almost magical: enjoying the company of your colleagues and peers in the outdoors, with good food that was as much fun to make as it was to eat, laughter and the smoke from the grill rising up in the pristine air.
Ice Cream — 2003 World Cup
As India faced off Pakistan at the Centurion Cricket Ground in South Africa during the 2003 World Cup, Sachin was readying for his own stint on the pitch. He’d have to contend with the combined powers of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar — on a “lunch” of ice cream. Sachin has previously spoken about how, before the momentous match, he decided to skip lunch altogether and instead, tucked into a “huge bowl” of ice cream instead. That was all he had eaten as he earned 98 runs off 75 balls and was declared “Man of the Match” once India established a win with six wickets. After the match though, Sachin went out to celebrate with the team, and they spent the evening sampling the local street food.
Vada Pav — Shivaji Park Gymkhana; whenever on home turf
Sachin and his son Arjun Tendulkar are both fans of the quintessential Mumbai snack, served at the Shivaji Park Gymkhana. And like a true-blue Maharashtrian foodie, Sachin even has a very specific way in which he likes his vada pav to be prepared. “Red chutney, very little green chutney, and some imli chutney” — in that particular proportion — are Sachin’s preferences.
Scoring A Century (Sachin’s Favourites)
Varan-bhat with ghee; Japanese cuisine; seafood at Mumbai’s Fresh Catch and Gajalee; stuffed crabs at Martin's Corner, Betalbatim (Goa); Mutton biryani, lobster curry, prawn curry and bhekti meuniere from Kolkata-based home chef Sukla Paul; Bukhara, ITC Maurya; Nobu in London
Bowled Out (A Foodie’s Disappointments)
Snails with garlic sauce (“too tough to digest, wouldn’t try them again,” said Sachin); his first experience with Chinese food*
*The story goes that a nine-year-old Sachin had pooled in the sum of Rs 10 along with a few other friends from his housing colony (Sahitya Sahawas in Bandra East) to sample Chinese food at a restaurant, then becoming all the rage in ‘80s India. The group ordered chicken and sweet corn soup, followed by fried rice and chowmein. Unfortunately, Sachin and the other younger boys had been seated at the lower end of the table, while the older ones sat where the waiter placed the dishes. They tried each dish before passing it down the table. By the time each dish got to Sachin, there were merely a couple of spoonfuls left. He went home “hungry and thirsty” that night, Sachin says.
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