Indian food is often seen as being a very heavy and oily cuisine, yet in its essence, it is enriching, nutritious and light. And this is the perception I want to change. As a teenager, when my body started to change and I had digestion and skin problems, I thought the answer was to ditch 'oily Indian food'. It took me some time to realise that feeding my body with processed foods that are low in fat and in fact high in sugar was not the answer.
This is what inspired me to transform my attitude, and yoga played a key role in taking me back to my own home cooked food, the food that my mother, my grandmother and aunts have always made. So, starting with my family's trousseau of recipes, I began to tweak ingredients here and there and in doing so, realised the endless possibilities using the wealth of spices and ingredients in my home kitchen.
It was here that my debut cookbook Green Daal Stories (due out later this year) and the concept of my products, Spice Bites, Coco Fudge and Chai Chia was born. My three products came about by wanting to create something for myself that I could carry around in my bag and have with my tea or coffee whilst on the go to satisfy that sweet craving. There's no refined sugar, dairy or gluten in any of these and they've quickly become popular at some of London's healthiest eateries from Raw Press Co. Dover Street and Jivamukti Yoga to Holborn Dining Rooms at Rosewood Hotel and Department of Coffee.
With my expanding range of products, menu collaborations with restaurants and cafes (Holborn Dining Rooms, Rosewood Hotel & Raw Press, Mayfair), my wellness events and supperclubs, I want to continue to experiment with grains, lentils and the incredible spices, and bring about a new concept of Indian food, healthy, not heavy, and retaining all the richness of flavour and spice.
Click on the name of the recipe to jump to it.
Date kheer with wild rice and dark chocolate
Traditionally, kheer, or rice pudding, is made of white rice soaked in milk, with a bit of saffron and cardamom, and of course sugar. Wild rice takes much longer to cook than white rice, but it is higher in protein, containing all of the essential amino acids, low in fat and a little more chewy, which I love. I've never used coconut cream, but saw it in the fridge and added a small amount. It added a delicious richness, especially if serving as a hot dessert, and the dark chocolate finished it off with a hint of indulgence.
This is great for a filling weekend breakfast or to serve as a hot dessert. Drop a few raspberries before serving, add chopped dark chocolate, and as an afterthought, some toasted coconut flakes.
500ml almond milk
Bombay sweet potatoes
This tangy masala mix of sweet potatoes with a slight crunch of onion and peanuts is as indulgent as it is healthy. It works as an impressive entrée, a tasty side dish or a light meal, and it's incredibly quick and easy to make. What really gives this dish its rich flavour is the tandoori paste, a vibrant mix of spices, tamarind, ginger and garlic, which can be found in most supermarkets. The onions are cooked separately so that they retain that crunch when serving.
No-bake superfood flapjack
Both of them had three or four each and my sister has now asked me to make these weekly as a healthy snack on the go. Nothing could make me happier!
This is exactly what I'm trying to do – make Indian food super healthy and nutritious while maintaining, even enhancing the flavours with the natural sweetness of dates, using coconut oil instead of butter, and still keeping the base… in this case, of protein-rich and gluten-free chickpea flour.
Seared cauliflower with turmeric, tahini and miso
Turmeric stirred through cauliflower always makes it taste and look like a curry, but here, while using turmeric in cooking the cauliflower, I've then added a tahini and miso sauce over the top, which alters the flavour entirely. And lastly the furikake mix, which is one of my favourite seasonings these days – the salt and pepper of Japan, a mixture of sesame seeds, nori seaweeed and red shiso leaves which can be added to absolutely anything. I quite love this as a starter or a side dish… a delectable fusion of sorts.
For the sauce