Secret of Sachin Ton: A mean jumbo prawn curry before final at Eden Gardens

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Sachin Tendulkar plays a shot during the One Day International (ODI) match at the Eden Gardens Stadium in Calcutta, 13 November 2004 | Photo: AFP

Kolkata: Sachin Tendulkar's love for experimenting with various cuisines is well known but when he is in City of Joy, there is one dish he devours and that is Bengali's favourite Golda Chingrir Malaikari -- a sweet and sour Jumbo Prawn Curry prepared with coconut milk.

The Shyambazar house of former Cricket Association of Bengal joint secretary Samar Paul was a favourite address for the maestro whenever he played at Eden Gardens, much before he played in India jersey at the iconic venue.

And before the tri-series final against Kenya in 1998, Tendulkar gorged on his favourite dish prepared by Paul's wife Shukla, whose culinary skills has been lauded by a lot of Indian cricketers.

In the summer of 1998, Eden Gardens hosted the India-Kenya Triangular Series final, a Day/Night affair.

And, on the day of the match Tendulkar insisted that he would like to have lunch at Paul's house before turning up for the final. At that time, Pauls had moved to their CF Block residence in Salt Lake.

"It made me very tense," Paul, fondly recalls in an interaction with PTI.

"I told him that he has a match tomorrow, so it's better if he could come the next day after the match gets over."

"He (Sachin) disagreed, 'I would catch an early flight the next morning, so I would like to come today for lunch before the match'."

"I was really tense about his health and how his body would cope after having a wholesome meal... If he doesn't perform well, and something goes wrong, fingers would be pointed at me."

But Tendulkar kept his words and ate a hearty wholesome lunch that included his favourite chingri malai curry (jumbo tiger prawn cooked in coconut milk) and mutton do pyaaza.

And, as it turned out, Tendulkar came up with an unbeaten 100 to steer India's nine-wicket chase with 15 overs to spare.

"It was business as usual for Sachin and he played a gem of an innings to steer India home," Paul recalled.

"He smiled at me after the match and said: 'Dada bas thoda sa zyaada khaya, usme kya farak padhta hai (I just overate a bit, but it didn't make much of a difference)," he added.

Tendulkar later gifted the Paul's family a giant portrait of himself with a message 'Keep Smiling'.

Paul got introduced to Tendulkar in 1987 before he had made his Ranji debut through his then captain Dilip Vengsarkar, who was a good friend of the CAB official.

"One day Vengsarkar brought Sachin to our Shyambazar residence to treat him 'prawn curry'.

"That was the first time he tasted chingri malai curry in his life and he was so full that they stayed till midnight. Since then we have developed a cordial relation with him."

"He may have gone on to become the cricketing icon but he has maintained a good relationship and makes it a point to call us once every month, or so."

To Sukla Bhabi, as the Little Master calls her, Tendulkar is like her child. She knows what his likes and dislikes from the back of her hand.

So any special plans, as Tendulkar turns 50 on Monday?

"We wish he was here, then definitely she would have rustled up some of Tendulkar's favourite dishes. But it will be an usual day for us."

The Pauls have planned to offer puja to their ancestral deity praying for his long life.

"We pray that like he has spent his 50 years, he will reach similar heights in next 50 years, bring joy to the country men," he signed off.


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