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Don't let the devil tempt

Banyan Tree Café in Worli, Mumbai recently launched a "healthy" menu, writes Vidya Balachander.
Hindustan Times | By Vidya Balachander, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUN 03, 2008 07:11 PM IST

When you're out in the stifling heat that promises to reduce the tar on the road to a runny mess, just the thought of a café besides a shady banyan tree is cooling.

Add to that a summer menu that promises to take the sizzle out of what you eat and you have the perfect summer solution - at least on paper. So, when Banyan Tree Café in Worli recently launched a "healthy" menu, we decided to brave the withering heat and make the most of this opportunity to cool off.

According to Atul Pawar, the manager of the restaurant, this is the third time that the year-and-a-half-old eatery has introduced a healthy menu. The summer special menu will be available till the rains begin so remember to ask for the special dishes when you visit.

The cool drink? A muskmelon, mint and lime concoction

Did we dig it? We are not huge fans of the strong smelling melon. But in this perfectly mixed drink that was in equal parts tart and sweet, the fruit seemed most agreeable. The melon was masked (but not overwhelmed) by the mint leaves and the end product was not strained of all pulp, which made it delicious and refreshing.

The expert speaks: According to Dr Nupur Krishnan, clinical nutritionist and director of Biologics Healthcare, fruits like muskmelon are a good source of water, vitamins and minerals. Mint and lime have cooling properties. So, a combination of the three "is likely to be cooling and fulfill the water intake of the body," she said. However, she added that "watermelon is a better choice than muskmelon because it is richer in anti-oxidants".

Calorie meter: At least 60 calories, assuming sugar was added to the drink.

In a soup? We wouldn't have minded being in this one, a chilled broth made of red pepper, cucumber and tomato. It was served in a scooped plate surrounded by ice cubes.

Sounds cool! It was. The ingredients were chosen well; the soup was light and pulpy and the presentation was a winner.

The expert speaks: "[The soup] is a very good combination of anti-oxidants because of the red peppers and tomatoes and the cucumber provides fibre."

Calorie meter: 140-160 calories

The main course: Baby potatoes and baby spinach leaves tossed together in a yoghurt dressing with American corn and cherry tomatoes thrown in for variety.

Cut to the chase: Though the salad sounds like a close cousin of raita, it wasn't. The yoghurt didn't smother the vegetables; the tomatoes were tart and the spinach leaves (though too few) were crunchy .

The expert speaks: Dr Krishnan complained about the starchy baby potatoes but what's life without a little starchy sin? Besides, she added that the salad was rich in infection-fighting lycopenes thanks to its vividly coloured ingredients. It was also a good source of Vitamin E, beta carotenes and dietary fibre.

Calorie count: 90-110 calories

The end? Not quite, because every tale of healthy eating must have a twist. A reckless streak inside us, like the devil that appears before Snowy in the Tintin comics, made us eat the scrumptious blueberry cheesecake in the dessert counter.

The expert speaks: "Even one scoop of cheesecake contains 120-130 calories," scolded Dr Krishnan.

With that, we realised that we'd taken the long way around to stab ourselves in the back.

Total calorie count: About 435 calories

The damages: About Rs 490 Banyan Tree Café and Bakery, Ground floor Krishna Worli Sagar , Chambers, Junction Palkar Marg, opposite Poddar Hospital, Worli (6452-7222)

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