Monday, November 23, 2015

Put India on your plate

In a conversation with Raman Preet Singh Ahluwalia, Executive Chef at Park Plaza Zirakpur, I realised that most of the things I grew up on made complete sense to me and that my logical mind had completely failed me when I hoarded food in packets and cans. The Chef who demonstrated his skill by helping me cut back 2 inches of flab in the two days that I was with him. He spoke about the need to enhance the Indianess on our plates. Here's a few bits from our conversation:

Me: There has been a lot of emphasis on changing the oil we use to cook in every six months or so. What oils do you prefer and why?

Chef: There is no uniform rule to cater to people across the world. In India, we often tend to misinterpret international trends and follow things blindly. The olive oil that is sold in India, for instance, is actually the industrial oil with olive flavours in it. How can that be a healthy option to add to food? In the rush to adhere to international trends of eating, we are totally ignoring centuries-old tried and tested kitchen modules to suit our palettes. I use only the freshly procured mustard oil (kachchi ghaani sarso tel) for cooking at home. Not only is it the freshest oil, it really complements the vegetables and lentils that we eat in this country. Given our climate and weather, our bodies require a certain level of cholesterol to be generated. Th whole market-driven low cholesterol oils are actually doing you more harm than good.

Me: What to you is the best breakfast that one can have?

Chef: Not paranthas. The problem is that instead of adhering to what the actual tradition is, we have moulded our conveniences as tradition. It is not healthy to start the day with fried food anywhere in the world. The best breakfast to have in India is a bowl of fruit with roasted or beaten wheat/barley/ragi or any carbohydrate rich cereal served with milk. If you actually are talking about tradition, stop drinking milk tea and fruit jams and fried food. The ideal meal is always light and nutritious.

Me: But fast food is a necessary evil in our times. How can one avoid junk food?

Chef: Who is asking you to avoid junk food? Eat the burger, leave the fries. In India, it is considered stylish to waste homemade food. How many people leave their fries? We feel ashamed in leaving behind a glass of aerated drink, knowing that it only damages us but we don't mind throwing away glasses full of drinking water. Home-made vegetables are discarded with little concern but pizza is always finished mostly even without having to ask. We have cultivated very irresponsible food habits and we are suffering because of them. The trick that I have learnt and incorporated is to stay true to Indian basics and finish with an international touch.

No comments:

Post a Comment