The Parshada kitchen is bustling with activity of the healthy kind these days. The community space for dialogues and workshops in Sector 18 is all set to meet the festive fervour with some flavoursome and healthy eating options. Here, the philosophy is to cook and serve food that is natural, sans chemicals, starch, refined flours and sugars, dairy, oil, additives and taste enhancers.
Created and curated by Manjot Moonstar Doad, the philosophy of Parshada and its many activities is that in order to live a wholesome lifestyle, which is in tune with natural rhythms, we need to eat light and alive foods, along with keeping our interdependence on sun, fresh air and earth through regular physical activity. “Our motivation to provide healthier snack options to our workshop participants initiated this aspect of our community work three years back, as we offer oil-free, vegan, gluten-free healthier meals,” explains Doad, who holds regular workshops on nutrition, food and health.
On the festive menu this season are vegan ice-creams sans stabilisers, emulsifiers and preservatives, coconut ladoos made with freshly grated and roasted coconut with organic jaggery, cacao truffles, which are easy to digest and best post activity snack as these are completely raw, without sugar or jaggery. “The philosophy is to return to the basics, how our mothers used to prepare safe and pure food in their kitchens,” 37-year-old Doad is bringing a healthier twist to snacks, experimenting with traditional recipes. The halwa brownies are made using freshly raw coconut milk and ragi or chickpea or bajra flour.
“Our dependence on wheat, maize and rice needs to be checked as we need diversity in our foods today. Amaranth kheer is our signature vegan raw coconut milk dessert. We are also experimenting with our range of salad dressings to encourage people to eat more raw food. ‘Tang Bang’ is made with coconut and imli, whilst ‘Painting Town Red’ is done with sun-dried tomatoes and onions. The idea is to stay away from refined flours, sugars, butter and hydrogenated oils and soon we will be doing a healthy cooking workshop on desserts and savoury main course dishes.”
Elsewhere at the House of Whisk, a family-run bakery, Saryu Bansal is creating cakes, cookies, and desserts using classical recipes, the finest ingredients and staying as organic as possible. What began as a hobby, has developed into a passion for 34-year-old Bansal, who focuses on custom-made goodies. “The first step towards creating healthy food is using the best quality of ingredients. I don’t use premixes, synthetic flavours or chemicals in my baking. Everything is made from scratch, with seasonal fruits, berries and dry fruits, along with vegan, dairy-free baking. We have jaggery and honey options, as I do a lot of traditional baking with grandmother’s recipes. More and more people are opting for fresh, natural, chemical-free options and the effort is to create a range of options,” Bansal recommends a Portugese orange cake, as well as Italian lemon and a banana walnut cake.
Pumpkin and cinnamon muffin, melt-in-the-mouth oatmeal cookies, cakes with fresh fruits and nuts, Hitika Keith Anand’s home studio in Mohali is a space for wholesome, healthy baked treats. Experimenting with new flavours and combinations, 40 something Anand says her recipes use no chemicals, additives, artificial essence, hydrogenated fats and boast of whole grains and fresh fruits, as she custom makes her products. “People appreciate and value the effort and the real things that you put in your food. It is for all the taste and feel,” says Anand, who is creating a special rage for the festive season.