Baking humour: Stand-up comedian Atul Khatri gets a new role at home


Shaguna with husband Atul Khatri at their Juhu residence. Pics/Tanvi Phondekar

When we arrive at stand-up comedian Atul Khatri's Juhu home, his wife Shaguna greets us at the door. Dressed in a fuschia dress with hair falling perfectly over her shoulders, the professional hairstylist guides us straight into her kitchen; we're here to spend an afternoon trying her baked goodies.

Atul looks on as Shaguna bakes in the kitchen

Atul plays the perfect husband, removing "ugly calendars" out of the frame. "Should we move this cracked chair? Social media will be abuzz with comments like 'Atul is so Sindhi, he won't change the broken chairs in his home!'" he quips.

Early beginningsFrom baking cakes as a school girl at her grandmother's home in Jodhpur to taking orders in the early 2000s, Shaguna picked up a passion for baking bread last year. "I adapt recipes from YouTube videos. I even got a sourdough starter from the US.

Shaguna at work

You feed it with flour and water, and keep an eye to ensure it doesn't go bust," says Shaguna, while prepping for Cinnamon, and Garlic and Cheese Rolls.

She cuts her proven dough to reveal sufficient gluten strings. "This means the bread will be soft and fluffy," she smiles. Baking, she explains, begins with a few fiascos. "The first focaccia bread became a naan!" says Shaguna, now skilfully flattening the dough with a rolling pin, often stopping to let it rest.

Garlic And Cheese Roll

(Pea)nuts over thisOnce, Shaguna prepared a dough mix for whole wheat bread and instead of proofing it for two hours, she cut the duration to 45 minutes. "Of course, it didn't rise. While I couldn't send it to anyone, it needed to be consumed within the next couple of days," admits Shaguna. Atul adds, "Every morning, she would ask me if I wanted peanut butter toast. I am always asked to control my diet but here, I was being offered peanut butter. Then I realised it was because that bread had to be finished!"

Shaguna has finished smearing a cinnamon-butter-sugar mix on the flattened dough. She spreads coriander-butter-garlic mix with cheddar and mozzarella cheese on the other, before folding them into rolls.

Shopping listWhile we wait for the buns to rest before they are sent to the oven, Atul recalls a recent trip to Singapore. "I had walked out of the food store with six kilos of various flours for Shaguna when I bumped into a fan. She commented: 'You get flour in India.' I told her that since the coolie is in Singapore, he might as well do some house work," he grins.

After 20 minutes, what comes out of the oven are buttery, sweet and savoury rolls that are decadent yet comforting. "I am the bali ka bakra for all her baking. Whatever she gives me to try, I say it is amazing. If I say it is slightly off, I've had it!" he teases.

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