Eat up for good health
Food is one of the most useful tools to inhibit disease, and a strong body begins with a fit immune system. Which is why, given the unhealthy climate that exists because of the pandemic, we asked five top chefs to share their thoughts on immunity-boosting ingredients and the recipes that use them.
Chef-Owner of the three-Michelin star El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain
Favourite immunity-boosting recipe: Oyster Ying-Yang
Why? “In Mediterranean gastronomy, garlic is a good natural antibiotic. Catalan cuisine’s typical homemade aioli sauce is an emulsion made of raw garlic, salt and olive oil. We use it with fish, charcoaled meats and greens. From Andalusian culture, we have a wonderful cold soup named ajoblanco made of garlic, tender fresh almonds, vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and salt.
At El Celler de Can Roca, garlic is present in one of our dishes, the Ying-Yang Oyster, based on two sauces, the cold ajoblanco, and a hot cream made of fermented black garlic.”
Nutritionist’s notes: Apart from immunity-boosting garlic, Oysters too are loaded with zinc, the gatekeeper of immunity. This recipe is a combination of powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, including Omega-3, selenium and Vitamin E.
Recipe: Oyster Ying-Yang
Ingredients and method:
500g sea water
Open oysters with a paring knife and remove them from their shells carefully. Cut the beard off with a paring knife and blanch oysters in boiling sea water for 15 seconds. Remove them from the water and place them on a baking sheet to blast chill. Reserve.
For black garlic sauce (yields 550g):
250g peeled almonds
500g of water
7.5g Sherry vinegar
12.5g extra virgin olive oil
3 black garlic cloves
20g squid ink
Crush the peeled almonds with water and leave to stand for 24 hours refrigerated. Run through a cloth filter, applying pressure to squeeze out as much water as possible. Mix it with the remaining ingredients, blend, and strain and keep the resulting sauce very cool until serving.
For white garlic shots (yields 700g):
250g almond paste
1/2 garlic clove
15g Sherry vinegar
20g extra virgin olive oil
3 gelatine sheets
Hydrate almond paste for 12 hours with 250g water. Cut the garlic clove in half and remove the germ if necessary. Mix all the ingredients except for the gelatine and blend in the Thermomix. Separate a third of the mixture, heat it while keeping it below 35ºC/95ºF and dilute gelatine sheets, previously hydrated. Add in the remaining mixture and transfer it into a squeeze bottle. Let drops of the mixture fall into a container with liquid nitrogen to make frozen spheres; remove with a strainer and reserve in a container in the freezer until serving.
Oyster sauce (yields 550g):
35g oyster water
20g oyster sauce
Open the oysters and reserve their water. Julienne the shallot finely and toss in butter with a pinch of salt over very low heat until it cooks well. Add the oysters and sear them on both sides to brown them lightly; use the oyster water to deglaze, add the oyster sauce, cook for one minute and add cream. Simmer the mixture on very low heat for five minutes, remove and place in Thermomix. Blend the mixture and run it through a fine chinoise. Reserve in a bain-marie at 65ºC/149ºF.
Garnishing and plating: Cut in half the oysters and, using a paring knife, cut a small base at the tip of each oyster, so that they stand on the plate. On a small soup dish, set one spoonful of very cold black garlic sauce on one side and white garlic shots on top of it, as well as half a cold oyster. On the opposite side, with both sauces touching but not mixing, arrange the hot oyster sauce and the other half oyster, previously heated slightly. This way, a play with cold and hot temperatures is created with both the oysters and the sauces.
Chef Srijit Girija Gopinath
Chef at the two-Michelin star Campton Place, and chef owner of Ettan, San Francisco
Favourite immunity-boosting recipe: Rasam
Why? “The key to consumption is to eat what is available locally and what is in season. There is a reason why nature delivers it at a certain time of the year. Indian cuisine is blessed with several immunity-promoting ingredients baked into our recipes already. There is curcumin in turmeric, gingerol and capsaicin in ginger, allicin (sulphur) in garlic, Vitamin C-rich citrus fruits like grapefruit, lemon, lime, tangerine and so on. When it comes to immunity-boosting dishes, though the idea of immunity boosting was never a question then, rasam was part of everyday life. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why we seldom fell sick those days. Today, I love making variations of rasams, with chicken, fish bones, lamb trotters and crab when in season. A good half a dozen ingredients in our humble rasam are today celebrated in the Western world for their immunity-boosting qualities.”
Nutritionist’s notes: The star ingredient for an immunity-boosting effect here is tomatoes, which are loaded with a strong antioxidant called lycopene that reduces oxidative stress and enhances immune response. Rasam brings added benefits with anti microbial spices such as cumin, turmeric and ginger.
Recipe: Chicken rasam
For chicken rasam base
3 tbsp groundnut oil
300g chicken thighs/ legs with bone (cut in to one-inch pieces)
2 tomatoes (medium-size, diced)
3 pods garlic (crushed with skin)
6 cilantro stems (crushed)
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Sprig of curry leaves
3 tbsp moong dal (soaked)
2 tbsp tamarind pulp
1 litre of water approx.
Rasam spice blend
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp pepper corn
2-3 small red chillies (torn)
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp urad lentil
6 curry leaves
1 pinch asafoetida
3tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp mustard
2 shallots, sliced thin
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 cardamoms, crushed
½-inch piece of cinnamon
1/2 tsp black pepper, crushed
1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
Wash the moong dal and add half the water and cook it until soft. Keep it aside. Heat groundnut oil in a pan and add garlic, curry leaves, turmeric and chilli powder, cook for three minutes and add tomatoes and cook until soft.
Now add the chicken and sauce for five minutes on high heat. Add cilantro stems, tamarind nectar and moong bean along with water. Add more water if required. Pinch of salt. Let it simmer until chicken is 90 per cent cooked. Now, roast the rasam spice ingredients in a tsp of oil (add asafoetida after the whole spices are roasted). Blend it all together and add it to the simmering chicken rasam base. Continue cooking the chicken until fully cooked. Adjust the seasoning and turn the heat off after adding rasam spice blend simmer for not more than 12-15 minutes.
For tempering, add sesame oil and bring it almost to smoke, add mustard and let it splutter. Add all the whole spices and cook it for two minutes and then shallots until light brown. Once again adjust the seasoning, add the coriander leaves and enjoy it out of the pot or strain it and have the broth alone. I prefer to have with chicken and other vegetables
Chef Atul Kochhar
Chef, restaurateur & entrepreneur
Favourite immunity- boosting recipe:Lasooni dal
Why? “In Indian vegetarian families, lentil dishes are the main focus of the meal, replacing the meat. This is an easy recipe from Punjab, with a pronounced garlic flavour. Garlic has been part of Indian diet since times immemorial. It boosts immunity and is known to help kill cancer cells, especially colon cancer. Benefits come from raw and cooked garlic – not supplements. It’s known to work as an anti-inflammatory, especially as a rub for inflamed joints and muscles. Garlic improves cardiovascular health, it gives better hair and skin and protects your food. When wild garlic is in season, chop the leaves and add at the end for an extra garlic hit, as well as for the colour.”
Nutritionist’s notes: Lentils are a good source of zinc and Vitamin B6 that help support our immune system. Allicin is the magic component that gives garlic its immunity-boosting properties. However, to unlock benefits of garlic, crush, mince or chop it and keep away from heat for about 10 minutes before cooking.
Recipe: Lasooni dal
4 garlic cloves
1 small thin green chilli
200g split yellow moong dal
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
Several sprigs of fresh coriander
For the tadka
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons rapeseed or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons ground coriander
½ teaspoon red chilli powder, or to taste
½ teaspoon garam masala
Bring 750ml of water to the boil in a large covered saucepan and assemble all the ingredients and other equipment before you begin. You also need a sieve and a sauté or frying pan. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Remove the stalk from the green chilli, if necessary, and split the chilli lengthways, but leave it whole. Rinse the lentils in the sieve with cold water, then add them to the boiling water and stir in the garlic, green chilli and turmeric. Return the water to the boil, then boil the lentils, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until they are tender. When the lentils are tender, stir in extra water if they are too dry for you. Meanwhile, to make the tarka, peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Finely chop the tomato. Peel and finely chop the onion. Heat the rapeseed oil over a medium-high heat in the pan. Add the garlic and cumin seeds and stir until the seeds crackle. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and continue to stir until the onion is lightly browned. Add the ground coriander, chilli powder and garam masala, and stir for 30 seconds to cook the spices. Watch closely so they do not burn. Stir in the tomatoes, lower the heat and continue stirring until they soften and break down, pressing down with your spoon or spatula. Stir the tarka mixture into the lentils and bring to the boil.Just before serving, rinse and finely chop the coriander sprigs. Stir half the chopped coriander into the lentils, then adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary. Sprinkle over the remaining chopped coriander.
Chef Ranveer Brar
Chef & television host
Favourite immunity-boosting recipe:Ashwagandha-Amla- Hibiscus Iced Tea
Why? “I believe that our traditional ingredients and our traditional food medicine have enough power to heal and make us resilient. I have spent most of the lockdown trying to research five immunity building ingredients in our food: peepramul, ashwagandha, turmeric, amla and mulethi. Ashwagandha, also called the Indian ginseng, is an ancient medicinal herb. It’s known to help reduce stress levels and keep depression at bay. Hibiscus has natural antioxidants and is good for the heart. And amla is packed with Vitamin C and is a natural diuretic.”
Nutritionist’s Notes:An all-rounder that can support various features of the immune response. Mulethi keeps the respiratory tract healthy; peepramul acts as a natural pain reliever; ashwagandha, a potent adaptogen, reduces stress and improves the body’s defence system through cell-mediated immunity; turmeric is popularly known for bringing inflammation down, and amla is an excellent storehouse of Vitamin C.
Recipe: Hibiscus tea
For immunity tea masala
2 tbsp mulethi Powder
1 tsp ashwagandha Powder
½ tsp peepli Powder
1 pinch turmeric
1 tbsp amla Juice
2 cup water
2-4 large dry hibiscus petals
2 tbsp. Honey
½ tsp immunity tea masala
A few mint leaves
1 tsp lime juice
On medium heat, place water in a saucepan and bring it to boil. Turn off the heat. Now add dried hibiscus petals, immunity tea masala, mint leaves and keep for five minutes or more. Pour hot hibiscus tea it in a glass, mix in honey, lime juice and enjoy. Alternatively, let the tea cool down to room temperature and serve.
Chef Nelly Robinson
Chef-Owner, Nel, Sydney, Australia
Favourite immunity-boosting recipe:Green Pea Vellouti with Cured Ham and Fresh Pea
Why? “At Nel, we use a lot of ingredients like citrus, ginger and garlic that are very good for your immune system, but one of my favourites is a green pea vellouti with cured ham and fresh pea. Green pea has Vitamin C, which is good for fighting viruses and good for the immune system.
Nutritionist’s Notes: Green peas are packed with Vitamin C, antioxidants and flavonoids that help build strong immunity. As a good source of fibre, peas help support gut health, which is closely related to a well-built immune system.
Recipe: Pea and Ham Soup
For the pork hock terrine
2 Raw ham hocks
3 bunches coriander root
4 garlic cloves
1 stick celery
4 gold leaf gelatine
Place in a pot the ham hocks, coriander, shallot, ginger, carrots, celery, leek, peppercorns, star anise, juniper, fennel seeds in a pot and fill with water, bring to boil and simmer for four to five hours until the meat falls off the bone, drain and strain the stock and reduce, while the stock is reducing pick the meat off the hock and place in a bowl. Soak the gelatine and melt in the stock, add to the meat a little at a time and mix, place in gastro trays and press overnight. Once set, dice into 2cm cubes and breadcrumb.
1kg frozen peas
3 cloves garlic
400ml chicken stock
500g fresh peas
Pick pea shoots
Toasted buckwheat/sesame mix
In a pot place the butter on a low heat, add the sliced onion, garlic and sweat for three-four minutes, add the stock. Let the stock cool down and in a blender add the peas and stock, a pinch salt and blend, pass through a sieve and check seasoning.
From HT Brunch, December 6, 2020
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