Arthur J Pais
Anthony Hopkins's cannibalistic misadventures in Hannibal are raking in huge box-office receipts. In his newest film, the Oscar-winning actor plays a soft speaking mass murderer, blending mirth and murderous thoughts with ferocious skill.
The movie has made $ 65 million in just five days, and is expected to gross at least $ 200
million in America (nearly $ 65 million more than what its predecessor, The Silence of the
Lambs, ate up 10 years ago).
Hannibal brings Hopkins into the limelight after several years, and is seen as a personal triumph for him since some of his earlier movies, including Oliver Stone's Nixon, had bombed at the box office.
In real life, Sir Anthony, 64, has been slowly revolting against meat. He would tell you in his
velvet-laced voice that he gave up beef several years ago; and that he has been paying a lot of
attention to what he eats. He is not fond of lamb, either.
Though he is a private person, he does offer occasional insights into his eating habits. He says he is not a great meat eater. Instead, he prefers fish now and then and has been a frequent vegetarian. He gave up alcohol in 1975.
But give him ginger chicken curry; and he might be willing to act in your movie. Film-maker
Ismail Merchant, who cast Hopkins in three of his movies -- Howards End, The Remains of the Day and Surviving Picasso -- is familiar with the actor's love for desi chicken.
Merchant, famous for currying favors with actors like Vanessa Redgrave and Nick Nolte -- who act in his movies at cut-rate fees -- firmly believes the route to an artiste's success is through the stomach. "Tony has been in love with Indian food for a long time," Merchant said of Hopkins, who acted in Howards End nine years ago.
Among the dishes Merchant cooked for Hopkins, the simple but flavorsome ginger chicken remains among the actor's all-time favorites.
Merchant says it was ready in less than 45 minutes. "It must have been good," he chuckles. "When it comes to Indian food, it is not easy to please Tony."
The following chicken dish serves 4, and is best served with plain rice or parathas.
4 cups vegetable or olive oil
3 pounds boneless, skinned chicken, cut into small pieces
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 one-inch cinnamon piece, crushed
1 two-inch ginger, peeled and grated
Pinch saffron, stirred into half cup warm water
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
6 fresh tomatoes, halved
2 teaspoons white vinegar
Salt to taste
Heat the oil in a large frying fan over medium heat and add the chicken pieces in four batches.
When they turn brown, remove them and drain on paper towels.
Add the onions, garlic, cinnamon and ginger to the pan and cook over medium heat until the
onion turn golden, stirring occasionally.
Return the chicken to the pan, add the saffron water, black pepper, tomatoes, vinegar and salt,
and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
Forget the fava beans and chianti, Dr Hannibal Lecter, try this chicken, with a glass of
Design: Dominic Xavier
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