Old traditions and New beginnings!

19th January 2014, me along with friends, family and associates, ran the 7 km dream run at the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon, for the Forum for autism. It is my 9th Year of being associated with this cause and we hope that our efforts are making a difference in educating and enlightening others about people with autism. You can read about us here http://forumforautism.org/about-us/

Post the marathon, we had a get together with my friend Mr Harsha Bhatkal, to celebrate the 15th year since my 1st cookbook was published! It is moments like these that keep you grounded to realities and take you back in time!

While we continue traditions that we have followed for years we also welcome some new changes into our lives! With the New Year having just begun, there are many people, in fact quite a few of my friends who have decided to give up meat. So I thought I’d share with you some great ways to help you stick to your resolution! Vegetarianism represents a positive move toward a cleaner and more compassionate world. If you are concerned about your own health, consider that vegetarians are generally at lower risk than non-vegetarians for heart disease, high blood pressure, some forms of cancer and obesity.

Turning Vegetarian…. ?

The thing is that once the decision to turn vegetarian has been made, action has to be taken accordingly. There are certain misgivings that creep in regarding the lack of nutrients in a vegetarian diet vis-a-vis a non vegetarian diet but read on for some clarifications:

For proper protein: Choose cow’s milk and low fat cheese. However, beans, breads, cereals, nuts, peanut butter, tofu, and soy milk are also some foods that are especially good sources of protein. Only fruits, fats and alcohol do not provide much protein. So a diet based only on these foods would have a good chance of being too low in protein. It is not necessary to plan combinations of foods to obtain enough protein or amino acids (components of protein). A mixture of plant proteins eaten throughout the day will provide enough essential amino acids.

Go for calcium: Calcium is used to build bones. Bone density is determined in adolescence and young adulthood; so it is important to include three or more good sources of calcium in your diet every day. Cow’s milk and dairy products contain calcium as also tofu, green leafy vegetables and calcium-fortified soy milk and orange juice.

The presence of iron: Our requirements of iron are relatively high. To increase the amount of iron absorbed from a meal, eat food containing vitamin C as part of the meal. Citrus fruits and juices (for example, orange juice), tomatoes and broccoli are all good sources of vitamin C. Foods, which are high in iron, include broccoli, raisins, watermelon, spinach, black-eyed peas and chickpeas, to name a few.

How to tackle the everyday cravings

  • It is not easy to go off meat. Besides the taste and texture it sure becomes an essential ingredient in everyday food. It is time to explore new foods and do some serious grocery shopping. You would be surprised at the options and variety available for vegetarians.
  • Incase you did try out something new and hated that particular food at the first, try it again later, preparing it differently with different seasonings and spices. Browse health food stores. There is always something new to try, and the staff can help you find what you are looking for or give advice on which products are best.
  • Another idea is to allow yourself one day a week to eat meat. If you’re finding it difficult to stick to a vegetarian diet, you’re much more likely to pass something up, knowing you can indulge on Saturday or Sunday.
  • Learn and read as much as possible about vegetarian health and foods. Knowledge is power! If you know any other vegetarians, ask them for their tips or advice. Everyone will have something different to share, but most people are more than willing to provide a bit of advice!
  • Browse your local bookstore for a great vegetarian cookbook Look for one that not only appeals to you, but has a variety of recipes that are simple enough for everyday use. My book – No oil vegetarian cooking, is one that should greatly benefit you, as it contains healthy tasty vegetarian recipes!
  • Try new restaurants. Seek out Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern and Thai restaurants and taste the many dishes and foods they have to offer.

Also try out these vegetarian recipes that will ensure you don’t get too many non-vegetarian food cravings!

Rajma ki Galauti

Roasted Pumpkin with Quinoa

Soya Baingan Keema

Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor

Indian food will never be the same again!

September 8 will be a red letter day in my diary – the launch of my new concept called Indii.

Started off early in the morning. First stop – The Intercontinental at Marine Drive to address the Press Conference called to announce the launch of Indii. We started at 12 noon sharp and I was accompanied by Harsha Bhatkal, Vinayak Gawande and Anant Gawande. There was a packed gathering of big journalists from the print, wire and electronic media. I first presented the concept. Indii will be different from other Indian restaurants in not just the kind and quality of food it serves patrons, but also in the experience it offers. It will be the place for food lovers to ‘eat, shop, relax’ and take home with them signature Indii food products such as sauces, chutneys, special spices and other gourmet ingredients. Indii promises its patrons Indian food that is chic and healthy in an ambience that matches the dynamic lifestyle of today. It will appeal to the young and old alike, whilst it continues to draw Indian and international audiences in its fold. My presentation was followed by the mandatory question and answer session. Most of the questions by the journalists were directed toward the health angle of Indian food and I tried to answer to the best of my abilities and in my perception I was able to be convincing. This was followed by lunch which had some great starters.

By 3 we reached the venue for the evening party. Tote at Mahalaxmi. The sky was overcast and we needed to check on the arrangements. I suggested some changes in the set up as we anticipated a larger crowd than initially expected (tell you, good thing I had this premonition as it came true!) and needed more space to move around. The evening invite read 8.30 pm and way before that a horde of photo journalists were waiting and ready to shoot! The guests started trickling in before time (a pleasant surprise for Mumbaikars) and by 8.30 we had half the guests inside the venue. And then it started….pouring… so hard that it seemed it would never stop! The management of Tote and my team quickly got into action to salvage the situation. As far as the number of guests was concerned, they were double than our first anticipated figure.

The starters were circulated: Indian food with a twist that I had personally supervised with the cooperation and help of Anurag Katriar, COO, deGustibus Hospitality P. Ltd Just fabulous – Tulsi-Patte Ka Jhinga, Jaituni Khumb Tikka to name a couple. I moved around my guests all the time – actually whenever I could get away from the media interviews. My celebrity friends graced the occasion in big numbers. We launched the concept of Indii with a lot of fanfare – lights, music and smoke! An impressive revolving backdrop with our logos was set up and I got onto the podium to introduce the concept and later Harsha gave the business presentation.

It was so good to have my entire family fly in from Delhi: my mother, my brother and his family, my sister. And I had many of my friends too. We were the last ones to have dinner at around 1.30 am. They had to catch a 7 o’ clock flight back to Delhi and I am flying to Bangalore for my next assignment.

Great party, great food: Nalli Nihari with Brun Pav was a hit! The Kachchi Gosht ki Dum Biryani was a class apart and from the desserts a novel Shahi Tukda – served baked!!

Nalli Nihari
Kachche Gosht ki Biryani
Shahi Tukda

Till I write again…soon
Sanjeev Kapoor.