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Let your kitchen skills get a healthy revamp

Chefs Ajay Chopra, Rakhee Vaswani and Ranveer Brar, share a few tricks of the trade to give your cooking a nutritious twist.

more lifestyle Updated: Aug 01, 2017 17:43 IST
Ajay Chopra,Rakhee Vaswani,Ranveer Brar
Chef Ranveer Brar at the workshop held as part of Hindustan Times Fitter Mumbai campaign at DOH, Andheri (W) in Mumbai on Sunday, July 30, 2017.(Pramod Thakur/HT PHOTO)

Several chefs have contributed to the wellness movement that aims to make every day cooking more conscious and aware of health repercussions. As part of the Hindustan Times Fitter Mumbai initiative, we got some of the most popular chefs to conduct workshops, in which they showed how with small and simple changes — replace noodles with spiralised zucchini and steam instead of baking cakes — a lot can be achieved when it comes to preparing healthy food.

Brar reveals his 30-30-30 formula for healthy eating

At the workshop organised at D:OH, Andheri, as part of the Hindustan Times Fitter Mumbai initiative, chef Ranveer Brar — often called the ‘rock star of the culinary world’ — was more than happy to have “conversations around healthy food”.

Brar interspersed his demonstration with interesting information on how to make food healthier, either through the technique one employs for cooking or the choice of ingredients. “My 30-30-30 formula for healthy eating is — eat whatever is in season 30 days from today, eat whatever is grown in a 30-mile radius, and let 30% of your diet include raw fruits and vegetables,” said Brar, even as he prepared a Daikon (radish) And Carrot Cake served with a black rice salad and Korean barbeque sauce.

According to Brar, “black rice from north-east India is a super food, packed with antioxidants”. Contrary to routine, the Daikon was steamed and Brar explained, “Steaming takes place at a much lower temperature than frying or baking. Thus, a higher nutrient value is retained in the food. Pre-soaking is also something that we should incorporate as it makes food naturally healthy.”

One of the attendees, Inacia D’Souza, a teacher, said, “He affirmed my faith in eating healthy. I am an avid reader of HT and I look forward to more such interesting workshops.”

Brar said, “I enjoy my association with Hindustan Times as they take a stand, in this case, for a fitter city. And fitness is the foundation of a successful society.”

Rakhee Vaswani’s workshop was held at the Palate Culinary Academy,Bandra in Mumbai, India, on Saturday, July 29. (Pramod Thakur/HT Photo)

Adaptation in the kitchen is key, says Rakhee Vaswani

It was an eclectic group of people who arrived at the Palate Culinary Academy, Khar (W), on a bright Saturday morning to watch Chef Rakhee Vaswani whip up her culinary magic. As part of the HT Fitter Mumbai campaign, Vaswani conducted a workshop on healthy cooking and ergo eating.

“I’m so happy to associate with Hindustan Times. They always come up with amazing concepts and I’m always pleased to be part of them. This HT Fitter Mumbai initiative challenged me , too, to be better, and come up with some healthy recipes using ingredients that you find in your kitchen. My advice is — don’t give up everything, just look for healthier options,” said Vaswani.

She started with Zucchini and Sweet Potato Fritters which were wrapped in crispy lettuce leaves with mango slaw. As a main, she introduced the concept of spiralising zucchini to make noodles. Chef Rakhee served these with Paneer Brochettes dipped in Red Pepper Sauce creating a wholesome meal. All through her demonstration, the teacher in her really came to the fore. She interacted with the audience, and willingly answered all the questions.

One of the participants at the workshop, Aarthi Basrur, rightly said, “Chef Rakhee is very approachable and the way she teaches is so easy to follow that we are encouraged to try this at home ourselves. I really appreciate this workshop and the HT Fitter Mumbai campaign. Usually we associate healthy food with being bland, but such workshops show us that healthy food can also be tasty.”

Chef Ajay Chopra’s workshop at Potluck, Andheri (W) in Mumbai on Saturday, July 29. (Pramod Thakur/HT PHOTO)

For Chopra, healthy can also be tasty

Chef Ajay Chopra created some of his healthy masterpieces for the Hindustan Times Fitter Mumbai workshop at Potluck, Andheri (W). Chopra said, “I enjoy eating but I want to live longer as well, so it’s important to be inventive in creating healthy food without compromising on flavour.”

The fact that he himself has lost 10kg is proof that he has found a balance between being healthy and relishing good food.

His creativity was certainly on display as he made Steamed Palak Kofta with a Lemon Tomato sauce. Like the pro that he is, he managed to make a low-calorie dessert — Gajar Halwa Boreks, where the gajar (carrot) halva was rolled in phyllo pastry and baked. For evening snacks, he recommended chips (made from wholegrain flour) and a dip, Avocado Thecha, which he demonstrated.

Chef Ajay’s agenda for the workshop was very clear, “I’m trying to prove that healthy food can be tasty, and go beyond green leaves. We only need to induce some health in the way we cook — avoid maida (white flour), use less sugar and oil. I am really happy to be a part of this initiative by Hindustan Times, it is not just a campaign but an attempt to bring about a change in attitude, if we start thinking fit, we will all get fitter with time.”

Given his popularity, the turnout at his workshop was no surprise. Sanika Naik, an HR professional, a self-confessed fan of Chopra, said, “I follow chef Ajay Chopra on YouTube, and when I read about the workshop as a part of HT Fitter Mumbai initiative, I just had to attend. This workshop has put me in the right frame of mind to think healthy before I make my food choices.”

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First Published: Aug 01, 2017 17:43 IST