Epicurean marvels at the World Gourmet Summit 2013

There’s something between Singapore and me – my connection with Singapore has been really long, so long now that I actually am forced to think that whether I was a Singaporean in my previous life! Well, jokes apart, I am back in this gorgeous, spick and span city of Singapore for the World Gourmet Summit (WGS) 2013 to share the gastronomy arts and heritage of the Indian region with Singapore and the rest of the world. My team comprising of Chef Saurabh Saxena and Chef Akshay Nayar is also here with me.

The WGS is not just Singapore’s most esteemed culinary event, but I really feel it is one of the finest in the world as well; and why not, when it celebrates the world’s finest flavours, most extraordinary wines and unique dining experiences. Encompassing a series of dazzling events like the gourmet golf experience, vintner dinners, special themed and celebrity dinners, it is a gourmet spectacular specially crafted for the discerning individual who appreciates great wines and fine cuisines. The WGS is in its 17th year now and is more extravagant this time because of the presence of some world renowned chefs like Matt Moran, Bruno Ménard, Sam Leong and the likes.

Singapore merely has a total land area of 697.1 sq. km. and counts as one of the smallest countries in the world, but the way the city has progressed over the years is just astonishing and quite remarkable. Not to forget that apart from being clean and modern, the city is one of the safest cities in the world and as I said earlier, it really feels like home being here!

My first day began with a Press Conference and Opening Reception at The Maritime Experimental Museum, Resort World Sentosa followed by the Opening Reception at S.E.A. Aquarium, Resort World Sentosa. Later, had a beautiful and tongue-tickling lunch at The Song of India restaurant alongwith some socializing with fellow chefs and colleagues.

The island of Sentosa on the southern coast of Singapore houses the integrated resort – Resorts World Sentosa. One of Singapore’s two casinos is located here alongwith other attractions like a Universal Studios theme park and Marine Life Park. It also has The Maritime Experimental Museum, the only museum in Singapore where Asia’s rich maritime history and Singapore’s past as a trading port can be experienced by visitors and the S.E.A Aquarium which is the world’s largest aquarium having more than 800 species of marine animals. Truly awe-inspiring as I came across the majestic ocean life!

The second day began with attending a function at Sunrise Culinary School which was followed by a fun interview at the 96.3 Masti Radio at MediaCorp, Caldecott Hill. The lunch was special – we had a special guest, fellow foodie and columnist Vir Sanghvi at The Song of India restaurant for our epicurean menu. Always good to chat food with him!

As for the coming days, don’t forget to follow my tweets and Facebook updates with pictures as well. Shall keep you all posted about the happenings as they unfold…

Going by the mood, sharing some recipes with the Oriental touch.

Chilli Chicken Singapore
Chilli Chicken Singapore 
Singapore Sweet Garlic Vegetables
Singapore Sweet Garlic Vegetables 
Singaporean Mango Jelly
Singaporean Mango Jelly

And I know it’s the navratras which would be keeping you all busy with vrats and all…but let me tell you that there is a lot more to fasting and the science behind it! Shall soon share some trivia about it in my next blogs…

All I would say is – eat well and eat right!

Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor

Of karma and dharma this Gudi Padwa!

IPL has taken the entire nation by storm again. Last night’s match between SRH and RCB was so gripping, especially the super over! It is not every day that we get to see one of the world’s finest batsman, Chris Gayle facing the world’s fastest bowler, Dale Steyn! Hope the match on April 11, between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders is as interesting, because I will be flying to Bengaluru to present the prize to the winning team. Quite exhilarating, I must say! The 11th also happens to be Gudi Padwa, the Maharashtrian New Year. This year, however it will be a South Indian celebration of New Year for me. Here in Karnataka this day is celebrated as Ugadi.

Something about the festival – Gudi Padwa, the first day of chaitra, marks the beginning of the spring season for the Maharashtrians. An upturned silver or gold kalash called the gudi is placed on top of a stick and covered with bright coloured cloth and other decorations and hung outside the house. A paste of neem leaves, jaggery, tamarind and ajwain is made and eaten first thing in the morning on this day. The age old reason behind eating this bitter sweet mixture is so significant in our lives today! It indicates that life is a mixture of good and bad, happiness and sorrow. It is important that we gracefully accept everything that it has in store for us, because you never know the importance of light until you have been in darkness. In the Maharashtrian tradition, Gudi Padwa is one of the four most auspicious days of the year to celebrate weddings, house-warmings and inaugurations of business ventures and for buying gold, silver or property.

India is rightly called the “land of festivals” which is very true, as I really feel that there is a festival to celebrate in each month and the festivities just go on for the entire year! Be it a Gujarati, a Punjabi, a Bengali or for that matter a person belonging to any religion, one or the other festival is there to give a reason to be happy, eat, drink and be merry! But, have you ever given it a thought as to why these days have just become an excuse to get a holiday or a day-off from work? This is when dharma and karma come into the picture. Even the Bhagvad Gita teaches us that we should keep doing our karma without thinking of the results, but the trend with humans is that, they make dharma a reason to shirk away from their karma (work). I am definitely not against any religion, festivals or the traditional celebrations that happen during these, all I’m trying to say is that we should take these festivals in the right spirit and not just blindly follow the rituals and symbolisms associated with them. These are created by humans only, even the Gods did not preach about any of them – so, this year, let’s all together promise that we will follow the inherent message of Gudi Padwa, by being true and dedicated to our work (karma) which earns us our breads because by doing so our dharma will automatically get pleased and we will be happy forever! And then, some masti, here and there, is always a part of life and if we are happy on the whole, we will be able to enjoy it even more!

While I’ll be in Bengaluru enjoying some palate tickling Karnataka cuisine, I would recommend you all to try out some joints like Prakash and Aswadh in Dadar with their authentic Maharashtrian thalis along with the ever-favourite dishes like sabudana vadas, masala bhaat, shrikhand; special amrakhands at Samant Brothers in Vile Parle (E); puran polis at Diva Maharashtra in Andheri (W) and Mahim and delightful ukdiche modaks at Modakam in Prabhadevi and a lot more Gudi Padwa specialities that are available at these places, alternatively you could also try making some dishes at home.

Also, try your hands on some of the most popular recipes associated with this festival:

         

Let me know how the recipes turned out.

Here’s wishing all a very Happy Gudi Padwa. God bless.

Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor

Calcium – Choona lagao!

Mornings are probably the most chaotic time of the day in most households. Preparing breakfast, getting ready for work, packing tiffins for everyone, sending the kids to school, and most of all urging the kids to drink that one glass of milk! The same drama unfolds in our house as well. Getting my daughters, Rachita and Kriti, to drink milk in the mornings is really tough. Alyona and I figured that the easiest way to accomplish this would be to lead by example. Since then we both have made milk an integral part of our breakfast. And when we started practicing what we preached to our children, they have become more forthcoming.

But why do we give so much importance to milk? This is because milk is one of the rich and healthy sources of dietary calcium. 99% of calcium found in our body is present in our bones and teeth and the remaining 1% is found in body fluids. Thus it is important to provide our body with adequate amounts of calcium, from healthy sources, to keep them strong and healthy. Besides promotion and maintenance of the structure of bones and teeth, calcium is also essential for blood clotting, stabilizing blood pressure, muscle contraction, nerve transmissions, and more. And if the body gets insufficient calcium, then it will draw it from the bones, in turn weakening them.

Calcium requirements may vary throughout the life span depending upon the age and sex. The average requirement of calcium ranges within 500 to 1300 mg amongst growing kids and 1000 to 1200 mg for adults. Plus, it is extremely important for pregnant and lactating women and those going through menopause, to also consume the recommended amounts of calcium. One of the best ways to avoid the risk of osteoporosis, in the middle years, is to include high sources of calcium in your daily diet right from childhood. Adequate calcium in the diet helps in the formation of healthy bones and teeth, which is why it is very important for growing children to consume the recommended amount of calcium, which they can largely procure from drinking at least 2 glasses of milk per day. The rest of the calcium required can come from other sources of calcium.

Apart from milk and milk products such as curd, cheese, yoghurt, paneer, and butter, calcium can be found in high quantities in tofu, soya milk, cabbage, celery, spinach and other leafy vegetables, broccoli, almonds, sesame,flaxseeds, herbs and spices, oranges, a variety of beans, eggs and ragi. In fact, those who are lactose intolerant or have milk allergy can also fulfill their quota of calcium with these non-milk sources.

 These recipes are packed with ingredients that have high calcium content. Must try!
                   

However, for the body to process the calcium properly, it also requires phosphorus and Vitamin D. The easiest and best way to get adequate quantities of this vitamin is to simply go for a morning walk and soak in the morning sunshine! For those who are unable to move out of their homes, spending some time in the balcony or sitting near a window that brings in plenty of sunshine, is also good.

Sadly, for today’s young fashion and zero-size-figure-driven generation, it has become far more important to stay thin rather than healthy. As a result of this fad, they skip some meals or eat less than is required by the body, or go on crazy diets, thus losing out on essential nutrients including calcium.

A lot of people these days prefer popping calcium and vitamin supplements instead of getting them from natural sources. This dependence on pills is justified by the highly over used “busy schedule” excuse. Tell me, how much of your time is it going to take to drink a glass of milk or eat a fruit? I’m sure any doctor will recommend you to get your daily requirement of calcium from natural food sources before turning to pills and supplements. Avoid buying over-the-counter calcium pills, unless advised by your doctor. The increased marketing of calcium and vitamin D tablets have almost convinced people that taking these supplements is necessary for staying healthy. A recent study has indicated that too much calcium can cause a build up in the arteries, affect cardiovascular functioning and can result in a heart attack and other heart related problems. This again goes on to show how important it is to have a balanced diet!

If your calcium levels are really low, the best way to increase it is by chewing on paan. Yes! Like most of the problems in our life, ayurveda has a solution for combating this condition as well! Spread some choona (calcium carbonate) on a betel leaf and stuff it with spices and condiments like elaichi, saunf, ajwain, laung with a bit of natural gulkand, can also help somewhat in making up for any calcium deficiency. However, for the paan to be effective in a positive way, you must make sure that you avoid any supari, katha or tobacco. It is also important to chew the entire thing and swallow it. Spitting out paan not only kills the benefits of it but is also a dirty and unhygienic practice.

The sedentary lifestyle that most of us have become accustomed to is the cause for several of these deficiencies, illnesses and stress in our lives. With small changes in our lifestyle, like eating right, exercising, and sleeping on time, it is very easy to live a happy life. We just need to be aware. If you know about the positive and negative effects of the choices that you make, you will automatically make the right ones. It is very similar in food. Some understanding about healthy foods, a balanced diet and the right cooking methods can go a great way in ensuring a healthy life. After all, a healthy life is a happy one!

Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor