How Ansiba became an ardent vegetarian

Actress Ansiba garnered applause from the audience and the critics alike for her incredible performance in the blockbuster movie 'Drishyam.' The youngster who is a foodie, however, is a lover of vegetarian food. Born into a Muslim family where non-vegetarian dishes are frequently cooked, especially during the times of festivals, it wasn't easy for Ansiba to remain vegetarian for so long. "There would be lots of non-vegetarian dishes during Eid. When others would relish chicken biryani, I would be contended with rice, aviyal or curd. There, however, is an interesting story behind my love for vegetarian food," says Ansiba.

Ansiba says that her maternal uncle who used to live with her family during her childhood would tell interesting stories to the kids at night. One night, through one of his stories, he explained that human beings eat the dead, as we consume the meat of the animals which are dead. "After that, this story would immediately come to my mind whenever I see non-vegetarian food. I stopped eating fish and other non-vegetarian dishes and became an admirer of vegetarian food. But it affected my health severely as I became anaemic and fatigued.

"Vitamin tablets and supplements became a part of my diet. I wasn't able to forget my uncle's story despite my family's efforts. I remained a vegetarian from class 3 until I reached class 10. After that I began eating chicken and fish in small portions following my doctor's advice. I still don't eat mutton and beef. I can only eat those fishes which don't give off a foul smell while frying," explains the actress.

Jack fruit henna

Ansiba says that there were lots of jack fruit trees at all the houses that she has lived in. She turns nostalgic when she recalls the sweet smell of ripe jack fruit and the taste of the various snacks that her mother used to make with it. Ansiba says that jack fruit halwa, ada (rice packets with jack fruit filling) and jack fruit payasam (dessert) were her mother's specialities. However, she admits that it was when she went to Tamil Nadu for her studies that she realized the special status that the jack fruit enjoyed there. She says, "There, money is charged for each jack fruit bulb. When we were kids, we used to draw mehendi designs using the sticky jack fruit sap. The sap would be pasted on our palms in the desired designs and henna would be applied over it. It was wonderful!" recalls Ansiba with excitement.

Love for cooking

"Kozhikode is truly a paradise of delicious food. My mother is an excellent cook. I, too, have learned to cook a bit from my mother. Unnakkaya (fried sweet dish made with plantain) and pazham nirachathu (banana with coconut filling) are my 'masterpieces.' Besides these, I can also cook dishes like pathiri (thin rice pancakes), fried dates and unniyappam which are made exclusively for iftar parties," reveals Ansiba.