Famed as an actor, singer, musician, film producer and politician, BJP MP Manoj Tiwari appeared in a rather unusual role of a chef at the NewsX-The Sunday Guardian Food Conclave 2018 on Friday. The Bhojpuri actor-turned-politician spoke at length about his journey from a small village near Varanasi to his emergence on the international arena, and said his food habits at all stages of his life remained unchanged. “One’s food should always be simple and healthy; I have been following this practice since my early days,” he said.

Reminiscing about his college days when khichri used to be his favourite dish, Tiwari took to the live kitchen and demonstrated his culinary skills. Tiwari did a live cooking demo and quickly fixed a platter with dal-chawal and khichri. He also spoke at an exclusive session on “Bhojpuri cuisine: The Foodie Netas”.

Tiwari refused to comment on the political situation in Delhi but took a dig at Arvind Kejriwal while preparing khichri at the event. “I will be preparing the real khichri. This is not the one made by Kejriwal,” he said amid a loud cheer from the gathering. In an indirect reference to the AAP-led Delhi government, he also said the public would not forgive those who are delaying the phase-IV of the Delhi Metro project.

Tiwari narrated his food stories, retracing his journey from an ordinary childhood to stardom, and said he had to adopt new food habits while always stressing on eating healthy. He listed a number of Bhojpuri dishes—like litti chokha, sattu—that remain his all-time favourites. Tiwari told the audience that he did not hear the word “recipe” before people asked him the recipe for litti chokha during the Kapil Sharma show. “I had not heard this word before. I asked Kapil [Sharma] the meaning of recipe and later told people how litti was made,” he said.

Recalling his days at the reality show Bigg Boss, Tiwari said he had cooked food there as well. However, on a lighter note, he said washing dishes was always easier than cooking food. He pepped up the mood at the session by singing his popular Bhojpuri songs, like “International Litti Chokha” and “Rinkiya Ke Papa”.

To a query on his experience of having eaten with several celebrities, Tiwari said most of them preferred simple and home-made food. He shared his experiences of having travelled to Mauritius and other countries with the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, and said that roti and saag was his favourite food. “The President also likes chokha [mashed potatoes] a lot,” he told the gathering.

Tiwari further shared his experience of working with top Bollywood actors including Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini in Bhojpuri films, and said this has always helped him stay connected to his roots even after he moved on from small town to big cities like Delhi and Mumbai.