We know food according to Ayurveda may not sound very tempting to gourmets reading this. Trying to discredit this misconception is The Imperial New Delhi, where Chef Vishal Atreya shows a healthy and delicious way forward
By: Soumya Jain
Posted on: August 8, 2012
I remember watching my maternal grandfather starting the day with a long walk, extending into an hour’s yoga and meditation, and culminating with a light but power-packed breakfast of carefully chosen fruits, almonds soaked over-night and something nutritious like Upma (south Indian dish made with semolina).
While I accompanied him on his walks and yoga sessions when I was young, I would turn up my nose at such a breakfast, and demand something ‘heavier’, like bread-butter-jam, or paranthas with dollops of butter, and more such man-made delicacies.
Life and the ‘trend’ have turned a full circle. Not only Indians, but globally too, Ayurveda is increasingly being tried and liked. Ayurveda treatments and medicines have already been well-accepted. The dimension of food is now being added to the plethora of ways in which Ayurveda affects us. People are back to eating ‘healthy’ food. Oil and grease is swept away from tables as people make more space for natural, organic and raw foods.
Ayurveda, however, has many layers, depending on the doshas (principles) your body adheres to. Ayurveda is founded on the five elements – space, air, fire, water and earth – which manifest in the body as the three governing principles of vata, pitta and kapha. Everyone has all three of these doshas to varying degrees, although one or two tend to be predominant. In balance, the doshas maintain overall health. Out of balance, they create mental, emotional and physical ailments.
Understanding this crucial aspect, The Imperial New Delhi has now incorporated the philosophy of Ayurveda in its menu too. Chef Vishal Atreya, their Executive Sous Chef, has created a special spa menu at 1911 (all day dining multi-cuisine restaurant at The Imperial) for resident guests, which can be indulged in post consultation by their Ayurveda doctor at The Imperial Spa.
The menu considers various facts which should be kept in mind while preparing food in accordance with the three doshas. Chef Vishal says, “Food is like fuel for the body, and if the fuel is not right the body will never function correctly. The most important thing to consider while making the Ayurvedic menu was the seasonal availability and sourcing local produce in the most unrefined and unprocessed form.”
Chef Vishal had to keep the basic philosophy and its mandates in mind too when preparing the menu. For example, hot food and overeating trouble those with high pitta. Chef Vishal, therefore, has instead used starchy foods such as vegetables, grains and beans, salad, milk and ice cream to create dishes for them. Similarly, Chef Vishal understands that kapha people should consume limited amount of sugar, oil and salt. Lightly cooked vegetables and raw fruits and vegetables are more beneficial for kapha.
And if you think that this kind of menu won’t suit your tastes which are used to exquisiteness, you are quite wrong. Chef Vishal, who we suspect has used his experience at Ananda in the Himalayas to craft this menu, makes sure that the food is as good for your palate as for your health.
We list two appetizing recipes which you can emulate at home. But of course, we recommend you do so only after consultation with the Ayurveda doctor. And if what the doctor recommends is not available in Imperial’s Ayurveda menu, worry not. Chef Vishal’s creative brain will stir up something which suits your body while being equally scrumptious!
Avocado, Orange and Mint Splash
1 ripe avocado, 1 orange, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 5-6 mint leaves, sea salt to taste, cracked black pepper to taste, 2 teaspoon olive oil, 1 gm orange zest
1. Peel the orange and take out segments. Keep aside.
2. Wash the mint and keep aside.
3. Cut the avocado into two equal halves and remove the seed.
4. With a large spoon, scoop out the pulp delicately to retain the shape.
5. Slice into thin slices.
6. Place a ring mould on a plate and line with a cling film.
7. Arrange the slices of avocado on the cling film and roughly scatter the orange and mint leaves on the avocado. Add lemon juice sparingly.
8. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste and grate the orange rind on top.
9. Cover with the left over cling film on the sides of the ring and lightly pound with a pestle.
10. Demould on another plate and remove the cling film. Sprinkle some extra virgin olive oil and serve.
Ginger Tossed Tofu and Vegetables Soup with Brown Rice
10 gms broccoli, 10 gms bell peppers, 10 gms mushrooms, 10 gms pok choy, 10 gms baby corn, 10 gms carrots, 10 gms zucchini, 10 gms onion, 10 gms cooked brown rice, salt to taste, pepper to taste, 10 ml lemon juice, 5 gms fresh coriander, 2 gms ginger, 10 gms silken tofu, 500 ml water, 10 ml light soy sauce (Kikkoman)
1. Wash and finely chop ginger and coriander and keep aside.
2. Dice all the vegetables and tofu into equal size and shape.
3. Cook the brown rice and keep aside.
4. In a pan, put water to boil. Add the carrots first and the ginger and onions
5. Add the rest of the veggies leaving behind the greens.
6. When it comes to a boil add the green vegetables and bring to another boil quickly.
7. Remove from fire and adjust the seasoning as per taste.
8. Add soy sauce and lemon juice
9. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander and serve hot.