Off-side: Masterchef Gurpreet wears different gloves every day

Gurpreet Singh Indian Football teamNew Delhi: ‘Bangkok mein sabse achcha Italian restaurant kaun sa hai? ……… You know Spaghetti Bolognese and a glass of red wine….’, quipped Shah Rukh Khan in his film Don 2. Replace Bangkok with Bærum, Norway and this would have been a perfect clarion call for Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. But no, he didn’t choose the easy way out. Instead he decided to serve it up.

“Initially it was very difficult for me. Back home you don’t have to worry about food. Ghar ka khana mil jaata tha. But I can say I’ve managed quite well,” India’s first choice custodian enunciates his early troubles in Norway. “I used to buy frozen lachcha parathas, but maida (refined flour) is not good for my fitness regimen, so I stopped.” The struggle between familiar food and dietary compulsions was real for the Mohali lad.

“Eating out is also not an option, as Indian restaurants are far and few.” Not just in the off-season but almost every day, he uses another kind of gloves too, this one the cooking gloves while using the microwave oven. Unwinding for him has hit the tight recipe.

“It’s not that easy to get the ingredients but I’ve found my way around it. I stick to simple carbs and proteins which are readily available.” The adjustment to the lifestyle and integrating into the social fabric including culinary habits is quite important for any person out of his hometown more so if in a foreign land where its winter or almost wintery around 9 months a year.

“It started with rajma chawal, yellow daal and others but then I began to experiment with spaghettis. I can safely say I make quite a good version of spaghetti Bolognese and spaghetti Carbonara,” Sandhu, the first-ever Indian Footballer to play in the UEFA Europa Cup quips. “People say that I make a delicious chicken curry. I think they are right (laughs).”

But there must be something he craves for in his time up in the Norwegian zone. “Butter chicken. It’s my favourite dish in the world. Nothing can beat it. But I have to make do with grilled chicken which I make from time to time.” The true blue Punjabi in him is evident as he proclaims his love for the quintessential North Indian delicacy.

A circumstantial cook, the former AIFF Academy product is no doubt a wall between the sticks. His agile reflexes and lean frame have come in handy for India. But those hands have also been put to good use inside the confines of a kitchen far away from the comfort of one’s home.

Survival has made the palms which wear goalkeeping gloves pick up a spatula with similar ease. Maybe a future offing in a celebrity cook show is on the horizon. But till then trust Gurpreet to whip up saves as well as dishes galore.