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Necessity of hygiene standards

The Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) on Sunday welcomed Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)’s decision to make registration for home-cooked food sellers mandatory.

The apex Hospitality Association has stated that food operators, whether operating from home or from dark kitchens, should be regulated for cleanliness and hygiene. If a law is applicable for hotels and restaurants, then it should be applicable to any such businesses that serve food.

It has also pointed out that unregistered, unregulated Food Business Operators (FBOs) may not be maintaining hygiene standards, which is detrimental to the interest of consumers and poses health risks.

“FSSAI has responded to our plea and is taking to task any such unregulated and illegal dark kitchens. Quite a few of these are actually funded and run by the Food Service Aggregators (FSAs) to escape responsibilities attached to operating restaurants legally and of course, also taxes. This causes a huge loss to the State and the exchequer. Not to mention the questionable hygiene standards, because there is no one to monitor and they are not registered under FSSAI,” Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, Vice President, FHRAI said in a statement.

“The FSAs are actually promoting illegal business under the guise of discounts and unreasonably low prices on food. If the FSAs stop listing such illegal businesses on their apps, these businesses will automatically follow legal compliances and apply for licenses considering most of their sales are almost entirely dependent on these delivery apps,” added Kohli.

The FHRAI has also emphasized on the need for creating a level playing field for all players in the hospitality enterprise. It has said that several dark kitchens are operating without any conformation to standard hospitality or kitchen hygiene practices. With no such regulations or checks applicable to their business, they may be putting the health and lives of consumers at risk.

“Restaurants and hotels are subjected to rigors of State and Central laws for operating Food businesses, but these illegal dark kitchens operate without any license. They have no need or requirement for adhering to any norms especially, hygiene and cleanliness related which all registered restaurants and hotels follow. This is unfair, unjust and most importantly it disadvantages ethical businesses despite doing the right thing,” said Hotel and Restaurant Association (Western India) (HRAWI) Vice President Pradeep Shetty.

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Pour Wine With These Etiquettes

The festive season is here and for many of us this year is about entertaining at home, in small groups. If you are hosting a celebratory soiree, wine is an integral part of it. Master of Wine, Sonal Holland, helps you demonstrate the best wine etiquette with these simple tips.

Tip 1: As a host, there is always one general rule to follow, which helps you never go wrong. Be generous with the wine you serve. Nothing is better than building great memories over a bottle of wine, so ensure you choose wisely and well.

Tip 2: The festive season is a great time to experiment when hosting intimate gatherings! We all have our tried and tested wines that we go back to, but why not expand your guest’s palettes by serving as many styles of wine as possible? When hosting a wine party at home, try to create an assortment of different bottles of wine, your guests can choose from. The beauty of wines is about enjoying the diversity of its various styles and discovering new tastes.

Tip 3: It’s important to invest in good quality stemware to serve wine. It’s a fact that the taste of even the most ordinary wines is enhanced when served in proper glasses. Choose clear stemware with no design or cuts. Ensure the glass has a lovely, steady base, a stem to hold the glass with, a broad base at the bottom of the bowl, and narrow rims. Keep it simple yet high-quality, and you will never go wrong.

Tip 4: When hosting an evening at home, chances are that some of your guests will arrive with gifts of their own, many times, a bottle of wine. It becomes your duty to ask your guests if they would like you to open their bottle and serve the wine to the guests – often, wine-loving guests make a lot of effort to choose and bring a good quality bottle of wine to a party, and would therefore appreciate you and the rest of the guests, trying what they have brought.

At other times, some guests are simply recycling bottles of wine they don’t want for themselves, so may not be comfortable with you opening their bottles at the party. Either way, it’s important that you ask them first, to let them decide if their bottle should be opened at the party or saved for later.

Tip 5: As a host, especially one who loves wines, it is absolutely fine for you to take the stage so to speak, to tell your guests a little about the wines you’ve chosen for the evening, and why. The only tip is: know when to stop. A few amusing, informational anecdotes about the bottles chosen are charming; anything more and you stand to lose your audience!

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Sarah Draws Inspiration From India

Model-turned-chef Sarah Todd says she loves exploring and drawing inspiration from relatively unknown regions of India. The restaurateur reveals, “I get my greatest inspiration from eating with local families who generously invited me into their homes. It is these intimate affairs and stories that truly embody Indian food.”

In an interview with Todd who owns the restaurant Antares, in Goa, talks about her experiences in India, her journey in through the Indian food industry. Read excerpts:

Q: What attracts you to the culinary culture of India?


A: From the moment you step onto a street, whether it’s bustling Mumbai or a village out of the city, you are immersed in its colours, sounds, aromas, and energy. It is exhilarating. From homes to the street food hawkers and family restaurants, food is an integral part of India’s culture. Recipes are a family’s legacy handed down from one generation to another.

Some of my fondest memories are cooking with local families in Goa, Assam, and Rajasthan as they prepare these meals with love and technical perfection. It is awe- inspiring and I try to replicate this dedication to craft in my own recipes. India inspires me in many ways, from the warmth of the locals, the culture, the community spirit, and their propensity to enjoy themselves. If you’ve ever been to Antares, you’ll know what I mean!

This is what brings me back to India. I feel comfortable here which is why I call India my second home.

Q: Can you describe the moment you knew you wanted to quit your modelling career and venture into the culinary world?

A: I have always been creative and even while modelling I worked in other fields which kept me busy. In hindsight, I suppose I was always searching for a career that satisfied that creativity. It wasn’t until I had my son Phoenix, that I developed a passion for cooking.

Healthy food was always a focus, but I soon realised that, if I was going to get him to eat it, it also had to be tasty.

It was while I was modelling in London that I decided to enrol in the Diploma de Cuisine program at Le Cordon Bleu. I’d given myself a year to make it in the culinary world. I figured I was still young enough to go back to modelling if it didn’t work. I topped my class and after applying to MasterChef, I was accepted into the top 50.

Q: How do you manage to curate exotic Indian cuisine keeping in mind the sensitivities of the diverse population here?

A: I have travelled to many parts of India and its diversity never ceases to amaze me. Cuisine changes, not only from state to state, but village by village. I love exploring and drawing inspiration from relatively unknown regions of India. I get my greatest inspiration from eating with local families who generously invite me into their homes. It is these intimate affairs and stories that truly embody Indian food. I am also a street food junkie and India’s street food is second to none.

Q: How do you think we can uplift the food producers in India as well as Australia?

A: The provenance of food in Australia is becoming a trend. Many of us want to know where the food comes from, how it is produced, and delivered to us. Schools are now cultivating their own veggie gardens. Students understand how much hard work is needed to get the food onto the plate.

Australia is one of the most food secure nations in the world and exports 70 percent of our agricultural production. However, I think we take our farmers for granted and much needs to be done to support them.

Most restaurants now include the provenance of ingredients on the menu which creates a connection to the products and the producers. Buying local and seasonal produce is also a great way to support farmers. I follow this philosophy for my menus in India.

Q: Your experience at the Australian Open Chef Series ‘The Perfect Serve’?


A: ‘The Perfect Serve’ is a five-part documentary series that follows me, Analiese Gregory and Bo Songvsava as we undertake the daunting task of serving a five-course menu at the Australian Open. Viewers get an insight into the behind-the-scenes preparations and follow the journey across different countries, cultures, and cuisines.

It was an honour to be invited to be part of the first all-female AO Chefs Series which is one of Australia’s most prestigious culinary events. Australians know me from my time on MasterChef and the My Restaurant in India documentaries. However, my cooking style has changed dramatically since MasterChef. Because of my time in India, I developed a unique Indian Australian cooking style, and this would be the first time Australians would have the opportunity to try it. To be honest, I was a little nervous. I began to relax though when the plates came back to the kitchen empty. The response was amazing. Diners were treated to the best Australian produce with flavours of India that some had never heard of before.

Q: Being a single mother, what would you like to tell the ‘mompreneurs’ out there?

A: Women possess unbelievable inner strength, but it is inevitable that we have a sense of guilt when work takes us away from loved ones, particularly our children. Overcoming this guilt has been my biggest challenge, especially in the early days. It is important to master the art of work/life balance. I am still working on this but when I am with my son, he has all my attention. Now that he is a little older, he understands I must be away sometimes, and technology allows us to talk face-to-face.

As Mompreneurs our blood, sweat, tears, heart, and soul go into making our business a success, but we must also take time out for ourselves. If we are happy and healthy, that will have a positive effect on our personal and business relationships.

Q: Which food has taken you the longest preparation time till date? Was it worth the effort?

A: My dessert for the Australian Open Chefs Series in 2020 took three days to prepare. In keeping with the Indian theme, I created a dessert with serious character, inspired by the refreshing sol kadhi. It consisted of a layered dome paired with lychee and rose gelato. To add drama and personality I served it with a shattered rose.

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Nature Inspired Chocolate Variant

ITC launches ‘Earth positive’ chocolate variant.

 In the backdrop of consumers evolving preferences and its resolve to create a positive environmental footprint, ITC Ltd.s Fabelle Chocolates has launched a guilt-free indulgence in the form of an Earth Positive chocolate called Fabelle La Terre…Puja Gupta.

It is inspired by nature and re-imagines the planet Earth in a praline format made with only two ingredients, Indian cocoa from Idukki Mountains in Kerala and honey from Karnataka. The chocolate has been hand crafted with 100 percent Indian/single origin chocolate filled with 33 percent honey.

Launched at a virtual event, Fabelle La Terre creates a multi-textural, multi-sensorial experience. The Indian Cocoa bean, known to have acidic notes and leave a harsher, bitter after taste has been paired with Karnataka honey, known for its pleasant, floral taste notes to balance, complement and bring alive the true flavours of both ingredients.

In appearance, Fabelle La Terre praline represents earth elements. The shell which is made of 100 percent dark chocolate represents Earth’s surface, encasing a blend of cocoa and honey, representing abundance of water on the planet as it makes up 3/4th of Earth’s surface. Since honey has a unique property to remain fluid even at low temperatures or in the refrigerator, it also makes it an ideal ingredient to enliven the concept. The chocolate is also gluten free, nut free, lactose free, with no artificial ingredients, no preservatives and is vegetarian.

Commenting on the launch Anuj Rustagi, COO – Chocolate, Coffee, Confectionery and New Category Development .Foods Division, ITC Ltd, said: “Delivering unparalleled and one-of-its-kind chocolate experiences form a major part of Fabelle’s core philosophies. The current situation has made all of us conscious and aware about the critical need to preserve the environment and embed sustainability in our thought and action. The launch of Fabelle Earth’ is our first step towards contributing to the mother earth and we look forward to consumers supporting this endeavour”.

A box of 10 Fabelle La Terre pralines will be available at a price Rs 1,500 and viable on made to order basis across all top 6 metros.

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Take Care Of Your Kids’ Digestion

Ensuring better digestive health for your child. (Photo: unsplash)

Has your toddler been refusing to poop in the toilet? Does he/she cry or make faces while passing stool or has the frequency of pooping reduced to less than thrice a week? If you’ve noticed any of these signs, then it’s possible that your child is constipated…writes Puja Gupta.

But there’s no need to panic. Many children go through chronic constipation. Studies have found the prevalence can be as high as 29 per cent, and constipation is most commonly seen in kids when they are 2-3 years old. This is usually the toilet training phase which can prove challenging for both mothers and children.

Understanding digestive health

A healthy digestive system can effectively break down food, absorb essential nutrients and eliminate undigested components smoothly. Trillions of good bacteria in the gut including Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus aid these functions and contribute to digestive health.

Moreover, 95 per cent of the hormone serotonin, which regulates emotions, is found in the gut. And 70 per cent of the immune system is active in our digestive system.

What to do if your child is constipated

Constipation is not a trivial matter. Even if a child sees temporary relief, relapses can disrupt the toilet training process. Frequent straining can cause painful anal fissures. The fear of passing painful stools often leads to a vicious cycle: children hold their bowel movements, which in turn hardens the stool and makes it more painful to poop.

There are many home remedies that parents can consider. Increase fluid intake by encouraging your child to drink more water or homemade fruit juices. Including exercise as part of their daily routine also helps stimulate digestion. Naturally, a healthy and balanced diet is vital, and it also helps to set specific meal times and give children smaller portions to let them eat slowly and prevent overeating.

Yet there are situations when constipation still persists. Supplementation with an appropriate prebiotic could help. Prebiotics (not to be confused with probiotics) are non-digestible food ingredients which play an important role in digestion.

Dr. Neelam Mohan, Director, Pediatric Gastroenterology, Medanta, said, “Despite the fact that about one in three children faces constipation during toilet training, child gut health can often go unaddressed. In my experience, parents report child constipation late and usually continues with home remedies for a month or two before seeking help. Timely and sustained treatment is important to establish consistent and healthy toilet habits. Palatable child-friendly prebiotics can not only help relieve constipation but also promote better long-term digestive health in kids.”

Healthy eating for a younger you.

Prebiotic supplements release nutrients that encourage the growth and activity of friendly’ digestive bacteria while reducing the levels of �bad’ bacteria. They can relieve the symptoms of childhood constipation by softening stool and facilitating regular motion.

Prebiotics are commonly found in fruits and vegetables such as bananas, onions, garlic and leeks. But if your kid is a fussy eater, then what are your options?

Are Prebiotics Important for your Child’s Immunity?.

There are innovative, child-friendly formats available, explains Dr. Srirupa Das, Medical Director, Abbott India. She says, “Constipation requires a long-term solution that is compatible with setting a regular toilet habit. Through it is treatable, our research shows that only 30 per cent of parents consult their doctor on time and paediatricians observe frequent relapse due to non-adherence. Responding to this need, we have launched Duphalac Bears in India, which is a new product featuring fruit-flavoured gummy bears containing the prebiotic lactulose. This safe, child-friendly food supplement promotes healthy intestinal balance and bowel regulation to promote digestive health.”

A healthy digestive system is paramount to children’s physical growth and mental development. Ensuring your child has a balanced diet, engages in regular physical activity and stays hydrated will go a long way, and appropriate supplements can help ensure they receive all the nutrients they need for a healthy body and good intestinal health.

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Healthy Diet To Reduce Cancer Risk

High-Fibre Diet May Lower Colon Cancer Risk

A healthy lifestyle which includes exercise and a nutrient-dense diet may help reduce the risk of cancer. Foods which are rich in antioxidants and fiber have been found to regulate oestrogen and inhibit cancer cell formation. Small changes to a routine can help reduce the risk of breast cancer. Rohit Shelatkar, VP at Vitabiotics, Fitness & Nutrition Expert lists down some superfoods to add in ones diet to reduce the risk of breast cancer…writes Puja Gupta.

Walnuts: Walnuts are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and phytosterols which helps regulate oestrogen levels and slow the growth of breast cancer cells.

Superfoods that can lower the risk of breast cancer. (Photo: unsplash)

Walnuts have been known to help fight inflammation which in itself is beneficial in avoiding heart disease and a host of other chronic conditions, but it is also linked to cancer.

Blueberries: Research suggests, that blueberries can reduce the growth of breast cancer tumours by causing cancerous cells to self-destruct, a process called apoptosis. Frozen wild blueberries are just as antioxidant and nutrient-packed as fresh. One can consume blueberries with smoothies, oatmeal or yogurt.

Sweet Potatoes: The sweet potato can inhibit proliferation and can regulate cell growth, defend and repair them. Studies have shown that women who eat sweet potatoes on a regular basis are at a 17 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer.

Flaxseeds: Flaxseed has all kinds of amazing health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Flaxseed is the richest source of lignans, a type of antioxidant. Dietary flaxseed has the potential to reduce tumour growth in patients with breast cancer. One can add flaxseeds to smoothies, yogurt parfaits, or mix in the morning oatmeal.

Garlic: Garlic gets its cancer-busting properties from allicin, a component of garlic that’s been shown to inhibit the division of cancer cells. Other cancer risks also found to lower lung, stomach, and prostate, possibly due to the flavonols present in the garlic. Eating garlic raw can maximize the anti-cancer effects.

Lifestyle changes for a healthy monsoon. (Photo Courtesy: Turmeric tea/unsplash)

Green Tea: Green tea is packed antioxidants with immense health benefits. One of those benefits includes having anti-breast cancer properties.

Decreasing the number of fatty foods in the diet and replacing them with whole foods will reduce the risk and have been shown to improve the survival rate of breast cancer patients. While no single food is guaranteed to keep oneself cancer-free, changing the diet to include more of these superfoods that can help fight breast cancer would prove beneficial.

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Veganism, A Benefiting Way Of Life

Celebs who eat vegan.

The growing towards conscious eating habits, backed by health benefits is set to drive Veganism as a way of life in the days to come. But being a vegan, one often faces questions about their diet.

It’s important to remember Veganism is not a diet or fad but a social justice movement for animals. To start with, vegans are those who do not use animal products or even by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, cosmetics. Individuals who prefer to be a vegan choose food which does not exploit animals.

On World Vegan Day, IANSlife spoke to Amjor Chandran, animal rights activist and co-organiser of Vegan India Movement, Animal Liberation March India (ALMI) and the Animal Rights March India clears the air on veganism.

Bursting the myths about veganism:

There is a common belief that it is not affordable to go vegan. The truth is: it is economical. It is essential for a human being to follow a balanced diet with pulses and cereals, grains, vegetables and fruit to fulfil the body’s nutritional requirements, he says.

“When we eliminate animal products from our diet, it is not necessary to substitute them with vegan alternatives. Vegan alternatives like almond and soy milk mock meat are only to satiate our taste buds. They are not essential to go vegan. Eliminating animal products is cost-effective.

“Another big misconception is that the vegans are protein deficient because people think only meat has protein. A well plant-based diet will give you all the essential amino acids needed for your body. Other requirements like B12 is a vitamin which is neither plant nor animal origin. They are found in microbes. Because of too much sanitation, it is not readily available. So, it is necessary to take supplements. Sunlight is an excellent source of vitamin D as well as supplementation. 40 percent of the world’s population is deficient of vitamin D irrespective of what they eat. So, it is not correct to think that a vegan diet lacks nutrients,” Chandran points out.

Benefits of veganism

By choosing to go vegan you not only contribute in the effort to stop the exploitation of animals but also to reduce your carbon footprint and prevent diseases. By following a whole food and plant-based diet, you can prevent or even reverse 15 of the major killer diseases of our time that includes heart disease and diabetes. This is explained with facts by Dr Michael Gregor in his famous video on YouTube “Uprooting the leading causes of death”, says the expert.

World Vegan Day: Clearing the air on veganism.

“Being vegan is the single best way to reduce your environmental impact on the earth. Animal agriculture is responsible for deforestation, water shortage, Global warming, and climate change. Globally, 50 percent of food grains which are produced in this world are used to feed the animals that we breed and overpopulate. A global shift towards veganism significantly helps us in preventing food shortage,” he asserts.

Adding: “Animal agriculture is responsible for global warming, deforestation, climate change and water scarcity. This is the reason why environmentalists like James Cameron and Greta Thunberg have turned vegan. There are growing activist groups across the country like Dval (Delhi Vegans for Animal Liberation ) which is based in Delhi and Kerala vegan Movement, which aim at creating vegan awareness by several campaigns like Marches, cube of truth, lectures, street outreaches.”

Vegan India Movement is an initiative which strives to bring together grassroots vegan Activists across the country. 1,000 activists across the country actively participate in different campaigns. Last month was named #whydiaryiscruel in which several activists made videos in their regional languages to make people aware of the standard practices of the dairy industry.

Cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai have an immense rise in the number of vegans. The Movement is slowly spreading across the small towns as well. There is no proper survey conducted to measure the number of vegans yet. But with more awareness being created by activists, it’s bound to increase exponentially.

‘Balika Vadhu’ serial director sells veggies in UP’s Azamgarh.

How can one become a vegan?

He says: “Veganism is not about perfectionism. It is not a perfect world that we live in, but the endeavour is to strive towards creating one. It’s about not causing intentional harm to animals. As far as our diet is concerned, it’s about following a balanced diet and eliminating animal products. Some people find it difficult to let go of the taste of animal products, that’s where alternatives come into play.” Tea, coffee, paneer and all other addictions can be replaced with similar plant-based alternatives. There are many start-ups which sell mock meats as well

He adds: “Besides diet, it is important to focus on our lifestyle as well. As a vegan one should not wear silk, fur, wool which is made of animal skin and replace cosmetics, beauty products with cruelty-free products. One needs to be very careful in using products from the industry where animals are used, they are abused and exploited.”

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‘Moving Back To Traditional Food Is Great’

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor says he has a dream of making Indian food the number one preferred cuisine in the world; but it’s not only a dream, but he’s also working towards it…Sanjeev Kapoor speaks with Puja Gupta.

“I’ve tried so many different types of cuisine and curated various international and local dishes. But I’d still say, nothing comes close to Indian,” he says.

We spoke to the veteran who shares his views on the journey of Indian food, nutrition, the future of the industry, while suggesting useful health tips that may help during the crucial times. Excerpts:

You have been very vocal about local food. Do you think in today’s time, people are moving back to local food or are they still inclined towards international food?


Today’s generation is fascinated with Western food and they are unaware about what grows locally in our own land being far more nutritious. Having said that, I also see a trend of people moving back to traditional food which is great. Nutritional benefits of Indian food have always been high, and give you complete nutrition that one needs. For example, besan – it is loaded with multiple nutrients and fibre. People are realising that traditional food can help us obtain wholesome nutrition, which in return makes us stronger from within and builds our immune system. I recommend one should include green leafy vegetables, dals, fruit and salads in their daily meals. Look for unpolished dals as they are untouched, and their nutritional value is higher.

Q: From a tourism point of view, do you think food can play an important role in bringing tourists from across the country and world?

On tourism, yes, of course it does! Food is such an integral part of tourism. Each city/region is famous for its own food and that is one major reason that adds to the experience of travelling to that place. Delhi is known for its fine selection of finger-licking street food, Mumbai for its regional cuisine, Lucknow has a variety of kababs, Hyderabad for its quintessential dish, the biryani, the list can go on!

Q: Can you shed some light on the journey of Indian food and nutrition through history?

There is a lot about Indian culinary heritage that people may not know. I’ve tried so many cuisines and curated various international and local dishes, but I’d still say, nothing comes close to Indian food. For instance, the Indian thali itself has sampann poshan (rich nutrition) and this is one of its most important part of Indian food history. The diversity of Indian food is the source of my motivation, to stamp my personal identity on each dish. I must also tell you that I have a dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and I’m definitely working towards it, non-stop!

Q: You have mentioned earlier that people still prefer restaurant food as compared to home-made food in India. Why do you think it is so?

A traditional home cooked Indian meal is well balanced, hearty as well as delicious for every palate. When it comes to health, you need not look beyond your kitchen shelves. People need to stop following trends and new food fads that keep coming up. When I got into this field, I saw a difference between homemade food and restaurant food. And when I dived deeper, I realised that we are deriding homemade food and giving more importance to restaurant food. We all have the knowledge about the benefits and goodness of various foods, but with time, some new fad comes in and we tend to forget the importance of the already existing ingredients and start taking it for granted.

Q: What eating habits would you suggest in today’s crucial time when we are fighting a pandemic?

A: Nutrition is a large part of health. ‘We are what we eat.’ We eat healthy, we stay healthy. One of the best things to include in your daily diet is haldi (turmeric). Haldi has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Add a pinch of it in everything you make. You can have a glass of hot water with haldi in it, add some tulsi and ginger too. You can also take haldi and jaggery, and make little tablets of it. Whenever you have a sore throat, have one of those tablets and you will be just fine. Also, take care of your sleep pattern as it is extremely important to boost your immunity.

Q: You have been one of pioneers of the Indian food Industry, do you think if you were not a chef, would you have been that successful?

A: Success is hyped. I believe in hustle. Whether a chef or not, I would have worked hard to achieve everything I might have dreamt of. Plus, I am one of those who could never follow, I could only lead! To be successful, all you need is the recipe of success and then it is only the right ingredients that matter!

Q: What you think about the future of Indian food industry?

A: We are facing a situation that none of us could have foreseen! Unprepared for a storm as big as this, understandably everyone is in a state of shock as the economy has been massively hit. The food service and hospitality industry too is drastically impacted and we all are bracing for major adjustments as we look at the number of the affected, growing each day. There is a major downfall in the industry with vast disruptions in the labour and supply sectors. Not to forget, employment issues too.

It will take some time to get back on the road and resume the businesses at the same pace again. The ‘virus’ is just another hurdle, in this race of life. Surely, it has brought changes that the world had never imagined, but, in no way has it affected the spirit. I’m sure we all can do it, fight the virus and win over it, together!

Q: You recently participated in the ‘Go Local for Wholesome Nutrition’ web symposium? What are your views about nutrition in today’s world?

A: The common goal of the “Sthaniya Aaharam Sampannam Poshanam” symposium by ICMR National institute of Nutrition and Tata Sampann was to educate India on nutrition that can be derived from the ecosystem around us. It also focused on discussing how India’s varied food diversity and locally available foods are packed with more than a punch to deliver not just the required RDA, but also to address most of the health issues faced by a majority of Indians. I really feel proud of our Indian food. It has so many dimensions, so much variety. I have always been vocal for local food. Coarse grains like kodo, ragi, jowar are more beneficial for health than polished grains. I was excited to be part of the symposium as it helped me voice my opinions and educate our people about the benefits of local food.

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor: Home-cooking is the healthiest cooking.

Q: Do you think by organising such webinars / sessions, we can create awareness about Indian food and its benefits?

A: Yes! As the symposium emphasised on the importance of local food for complete nutrition, I learnt a lot of new things through the 4 sessions. The Indian kitchen is full of health. The masala dabba we have in our kitchen is equivalent to a medicine box. Healthy and balanced eating has always been of importance, but the focus has increased now and educating and creating awareness through such webinars and sessions is the need of the hour. I would encourage for more such knowledge exchange platforms in future.

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Virtual School Breaks With Healthy Snacks

How to keep your gut healthy in summer.

The pandemic has forced children to go back to school with virtual learning having swapped classroom teaching. Although school in 2020 may look way too different, it still summons a celebration.writes N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe.

You can make a virtual lunch breaks memorable with some healthy snacks.

Dr Siddhant Bhargava, Fitness and Nutritional Scientist, Co-Founder of Food Darzee shares snacks tips that are nutritious to give a healthy start to your child’s virtual school breaks:

Bookshelf: Virtual School Breaks with nutritious snacks.(pixabay)

Oatmeal: One of the nutritious options which can be a good snacking option for your children is oatmeal. Oats are packed with soluble fibre, which will help in increasing the number of good bacteria in your child’s digestive tract, along with other health benefits. Instead of the sugar-rich flavoured oats, parents should make use of whole rolled oats to make oatmeal. Also, preparing oatmeal with milk instead of water will give some extra dose of protein and calcium to your kids, thus enhancing their immunity.

Ragi or nachani cookies: Ragi is packed with dietary fibre which aids digestion and helps your children to stay full for long time intervals. The amino acids present in ragi do away with the extra fat around the liver aiding to condense cholesterol levels in a child’s body, thus, helping to keep obesity problems at bay. Looking for a crunchy snacking option, parents must sneak in some calcium-rich ragi flour in cookies, these crisp cookies are a perfect option for the short virtual breaks.

Steamed Dhokla: A snack that is perfect to fuel up on after a long day at school, the steaming of dhokla withholds the extra use of oil and is very light and easy for the child to digest. Curd that is used in this recipe enhances the goodness that comes with a fermented food like breaking down fat effortlessly alongside maintaining healthy gut flora. This will further aid your child’s digestion and the bowel movement to get modulated.

Healthy soya burger
: A big no-no to unhealthy junk food for children and more so during the pandemic times. You can substitute fried burger patties with nutritious soy patties prepared with soya granules. You can opt for a healthy filling with plenty of fresh veggies thus lending a miss to the fattening mayo and cheese. Soy is filled with protein, dietary fiber, and iron, and B vitamins thus making it a healthy snack option for your children to munch on during their virtual breaks.



Spinach Idlis: Parents can give a great twist to the recipe by adding spinach to your fermented idli batter, a perfect option for kids who don’t eat their greens. Spinach being a superfood which includes a lot of rich fibres, iron, proteins, minerals, magnesium, and on the other hand, idli is another meal which is nourishing with less calorie. Spinach is rich in its water content which will aid in keeping your child hydrated throughout. It is a natural laxative and hence helps stimulate your child’s bowel movements. Also, other benefits like aiding to keep immunity high and keeping gastric problems at bay, spinach is a go-to option that must be incorporated during your child’s virtual school break.

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Tips To Save You From Fake Food

Potato Chips. (File Photo: IANS)

As more and more consumers opt for branded – packaged food items, counterfeiters are flooding the market with fake and adulterated products.

An overwhelming number of incidents and case studies indicate that food fraud is a growing trend. Incidents increase rapidly during the festive season where imitations of branded chocolates, snacks, beverages and even essential items like rice and oil are being sold.

As per findings from FSSAI (the Food regulator) during the year 2018-19, while analyzing a total of 106,459 samples over 15.8 percent of food were found to be sub-standard, 3.7 percent unsafe, and 9 percent samples had labeling defects. This is the first year such data has been compiled for unsafe, substandard and labeling defects.

Consumers deserve good quality product, especially as they are paying top dollar for it. So the question is how can we save ourselves from food fraud?

Nakul Pasricha, President, ASPA (Authentication Solution Providers’ Association) suggests the following tips to make sure you are being given an authentic product:

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Shop at authorised vendors and take the bill

As much as possible buy from authorised retail shops as they will not sell a fake products on purpose. Always insist for a proper bill from the retailer. Bills help in proving responsibility in case the seller gives you a falsified item. Do not fall for an unknown online seller just for convenience.

Be careful while shopping online

While using an online delivery system choose trustworthy – established – authentic websites only. Do not shop from unknown websites because they are giving attractive offers and discounts. Before shopping online verify if the website is reliable and trusted by shoppers.

Packaging reveals the secret

A careful look at the packaging can easily tell you if it is a fake. Counterfeiters produce close copies, but they mostly cannot perfect it. There are visible differences in the logo, size, and colors used in the packaging. Many brands use anti-counterfeiting solutions such as special packaging layers, security holograms, special packaging features, SMS verification, QR code, or a scratch code. They also have instructions for product authentication. For instance Ghee brands like Patanjali, Mother Dairy and Amul have QR codes or security holograms to authenticate the product. A packed rice bag would have a holographic stripe. Check for these and make sure of their presence. Report them with Brand if you don’t find them or if these labels seem tampered. Check for product labelling. Counterfeit products can be easily identified through wrong spelling (an extra or a missing letter) or grammatical errors.

New Delhi: People step out to buy essentials items. (Photo: IANS)

Check the nutrition label on supplements and food items

Always read the nutrition label carefully. Nutrition labels can help in identifying fakes from originals. Fake items usually have some discrepancy in listing the ingredients. If something is extra in it or if something is missing, then the product is a fake. You can also download ‘Smart Consumer App’ launched by the Consumer Ministry and FSSAI to help customers to get accurate information about packaged food items.

Check the manufacturing and expiry date

While buying something always check the manufacturing and expiry date. If the date seems to be way too long ago or if it is damaged or not clearly visible, then that is likely a recycled item.

Be aware of inconsistency in the texture, smell, and colour of the product. These are few key indicators to help you make out whether the product is an original or a fake. A responsible and reputed brand would never compromise on the quality of their products. So, a few minutes invested while buying can make sure we save ourselves from picking up fake food items.

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