Travel

Healthy Gourmet

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Award winning SHA Wellness clinic with Alfredo Bataller Pineda. Chefs Carlos Garcia and Andres Moran.

I am feasting  non-stop. And I’m on a “controlled diet” in a state of the art wellness clinic in the stunningly beautiful Spanish Mediteranean coast. Not only is the food delicious and views delectable but I’m also devouring facts about food at a rapid pace.

Ancient wisdom is tangoing with the most advanced
western techniques. Here in the globally acknowledged SHA wellness clinic, nutrition and natural methods are the core. Healthy-Ageing and non-invasive Aesthetic Medicine completes this well-being of the mind and the body of the SHA method.

How amazing is this? SHA ‘s healthy and therapeutic  menu was awarded the Millesime ́s highest recognition for the Best Gastronomic Trend Grand. Healthy can be gourmet and this propelled me to take cooking lessons in their Mediterranean and Japanese Macrobiotic  traditions.

The SHA food pyramid upholds the recommendations from the World Health Organisation

Driving this award winning wellness clinic is the Battaler family, Not only did the father Alfredo Battaler set up this clinic because he found a natural and unique solution to his life threatening health problems but his three sons take an equally passionate interest in it. I’m thrilled to meet the dapper Alfredo Bataller Pineda and watch chefs Andres Moran    and Carlos Garcia     in action. I also attend a chefs studio class and get the recipe of the unique gluten free, sugar free, dairy free carrot cake which also has ginger and turmeric and lemon. Should you want the recipe please tweet Instagram @rashmiudaysingh email me rashmiudaysingh2017@gmail.com

Best of the best

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SHA MAGIC: ALFREDO BATALLER PARIETTI AND CHEF ANDRES MORAN

East is meeting West. Ancient wisdom is tangoing with the most advanced
western techniques. Here in the globally acknowledged wellness clinic (aptly called SHA, which means luminosity or king of kings in Arabic) nutrition and natural methods form the core of the fabulous SHA Method. Healthy-Ageing and non-invasive Aesthetic Medicine completes this well-being of the mind and the body.

Here,  I am feasting on the amazing food, the knowledge and the brilliant sunshine and views. SHA wellness clinic sits like royalty  on a beautiful Spanish mountainside overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, part of the Sierra Helada Natural Park, by the picturesque ancient town of Villa de Altea. This mild micro-climate of the area guarantees fantastic temperatures all year around, the area recognized by the World Health Organization as having one of the World‟s best climates, this in itself being an important factor for the maintenance of optimum health.

INSPIRATIONAL EXAMPLE

Turn your stumbling blocks into stumbling stones seems to be the life mantra of the dapper and dynamic Alfredo Bataller Parietti. He suffered from serious life threatening health problems for over thirty years. He was lucky enough to meet a doctor who was a leading expert in nutrition and natural therapies, who is now a member of SHA medical team.  Mr Bataller experienced the body’s auto-healing power through a natural diet and natural therapies, And so was born  his desire to share this knowledge and well-being and health. And SHA wellness was set up in the very location of their family home.This is how SHA Wellness Clinic was born. The SHA Method combines the effective elements of healthy nutrition and the curative powers of natural therapies with SHA Academy, a dynamic and practical programme of educational activities.

HEALTHY GOURMET

How amazing is this? SHA ‘s healthy and therapeutic  menu was awarded the Millesime ́s highest recognition for the Best Gastronomic Trend Grand of 2009 and a Sun in the Repsol Guide 2011. Healthy can be gourmet and this propelled me to take cooking lessons and learn more about it. SHA‟s main restaurant, SHAMADI, offers the most select modern cuisine, fusing Mediterranean and Japanese Macrobiotic  traditions, and always prepared with natural organic ingredients.

The SHA food pyramid upholds the recommendations from the World Health Organisation and to a great extent it is in line with what the Harvard University of Medicine proposed as being the most suitable diet for humans.

Interestingly, the philosophy of macrobiotics goes back 1000s of years; and here they combine it with the Mediterranean Diet too. Most of the foods used at SHA have also been eaten by the world’s most healthy and long standing cultures including China, Japan, India, Middle East and the Mediterranean. SHA offers wholesome, honest food, grains, beans, vegetables, sea vegetables, nuts, and seeds,plus various seasonings, herbs, sugar-free desserts and fish. Most of the foods are living, local, organic, and seasonal which means they are full of energy, nutrition, and antioxidants. They help to keep us young and vital.  And chef Andres Moran, the patisseur extraordinaire’s desserts, be it the gianduja, the tiramisu, chocolate mousse dazzle with their taste and nutrition.

SHA RECIPE

GLUTENFREE, SUGARFREE, DAIRYFREE CARROT CAKE

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THE THERAPEUTIC SHA CARROT CAKE

Here im learning at a rapid pace, attending talks, yoga, tai-chi, chi-kung, relaxation, breathing and laughter therapy and take a lesson in cooking at the Chefs studio. Chef Raquel Rocha shows me a step by step method to bake a gluten free, sugar free, dairy free carrot cake. It also has ginger and curcumin (turmeric) and lemon zest. Its yum.

Ingredients for cake  12g Arrow root,130g Corn flour. 85g Rice flavor, 4g Bicarbonate

10g Baking powder.2g Salt

2g Ginger zest, 5g Lemon zest 3g Cinnamon powder.250g Agave syrup

100g Sunflower oil.150g Rice cream

300g Zest of carrot

Preparation

Mix all ingredients, the liquids first and then mix in the dry ones. Put this batter in a cake tray  in the oven for 30min in the temperature 160oC.

Ingredients for cream

800g Coconut milk,200g Rice syrup

15g Cinnamon sticks,15g Orange zest

1gr Curcuma, 8g Agar agar

Preparation

Mix all ingredients and  warm till boiling. Cover the pot and leave for 10min to infuse. Run through the strainer and leave for cooling.

Blend till reach creamy and smooth texture and layer onto the cake. Decorate with carrot crisps (optional)  and edible flowers (optional).

Enjoy! Guiltfree!

Surprise on the beach

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Zuma on the beach: Chef Wingtam, Fred. varnier, Onur secilmis Patrick Smekens

Foodies, here’s news for you. Zuma, the award-winning world renowned and my favourite contemporary Japanese Izakaya restaurant rocks in over ten cities, but what a happy surprise to find Arjun Waney’s highoctane restaurant on the beach in Phuket. Zuma is making waves (literally, too) in the superluxurious Anantara Layan. And last week in Phuket, I got to know about it, thanks to the dynamic Fred Varnier and got a taste of Chef Wingtam’s rendering of Zuma signature dishes. Miso black cod, spicy beef tenderloin with sesame to the yellowtail with ponzu.The fresh sea breeze added even more punch to Zuma’s zest. Cheers!

Japan Wows

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Yuko and Yoshihiro Narisawa. The iconic live bread.

What you see in the photograph is a live wheat bread (decorated with leaves and tree branches) and it was cooked over hot stone on our table.  And it yielded two most delicious warm, slightly chewy bread balls, we  devoured with butter covered with black olive powder and green moss.

This was just the beginning of Michelin starred Maestro Yoshihiro Narisawa’s magic. “Essence Of the forest” and a parade of dishes inspired and dedicated to nature follow. Dining at the Best of the best, taking an hours bullet train ride (from Tokyo)to stay at the exquisite traditional Japanese Ryokan (inn) San Jyuan thanks to Chef Munidasa are some of the highlights.

In Kyoto, I bow in Reverence at the Buddhist temples, wear the Formal “Furisode” kimono and attend Zen meditation there. And dine on the pure vegetarian “shojin” temple cuisines. Im still savouring Did you know that till the 19th century, Japan was largely vegetarian due to the Buddhist influence? And awesome vegetarian at that. In Japan the wow never wavers…

A Taste of History & Health & Zen

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CHEF IRYO AND MAAYA ARAKAWA AT THE 12TH CENTURY POND GARDEN, KYOTO

I’m rejoicing. I’m surrounded by the exquisite 12th century pond garden, (ikeniwa, or Shakusuien garden) and getting a taste of maestro Tsuyoshi Iryo’s melt in the mouth home made tofu. And this in Kyoto, one of Japan’s best-preserved historic cities. Not only was it Japan’s capital for over a thousand years but most of what we consider the essence of Japan…from the art of the tea ceremony to Ikebana flower arranging…originated here. I attend an hour long Zen meditation in a Buddhist temple, chanting at another at the crack of dawn and Go on the Hozugawa River Boat Ride.

I  thrill to the fact that today, Kyoto is home to cutting-edge biotech, education and is  a forward-looking centre for art and design. Combining both the traditional and the modern is the magnificent Four Seasons hotel at the heart of which is this 12th century pond garden. A glass bridge takes me to our quaint tea house, Shakusui-tei. The essence of Japan alive in the interiors, with thewashi-paper lamps,fusuma screens and urushi lacquerware. This is meshed in with modern and hi-tech conveniences,  In the hi-cool Brasserie, modern cooking techniques and local Kyoto ingredients come together in seasonal and vibrant dishes.

It is here that maestro Tsuyoshi-san who has honed his skills internationally, conjures memorable dishes.  Tsuyoshi’s contemporary, chic and elegant cooking style fits perfectly with  the”hip and cool” modern Brasserie concept. The ever helpful and super efficient Maaya Arakawa guides me through the intricacies of Japanese culture (including wearing a kimono) history and cuisine.  My smattering of Japanese language lesson comes in handy to say “Japan I love you”

TERRIFIC TOFU

Vegetarians  and Vegan’s delight! Delicious and healthful are two words that usually do not combine together. Tofu is one of the few exceptions. Tsuyoshi san shares his recipe and some of the health benefits of… tofu

Tofu, or bean curd ( made by curdling fresh soya milk) which originated in China 2000 years ago, is an excellent source of protein and contains all eight essential amino acids. It is also an excellent source of iron and calcium and minerals.

Soya protein (from which tofu is derived) is believed to help lower levels of bad cholesterol . Interestingly, Tofu contains phytoestrogens called isoflavones – whichy help menopausal women reduce their symptoms.  However, it is important to remember that Tofu and all soya products contain large amounts of oxalate. So all those who  have a history of oxalate containing kidney stones should avoid over consuming soya products.

Chef Iryo’s Home-made tofu ginger sauce

Ingredients    

200cc Soy Milk

1g Brine

300cc dashi (seaweed)

2tsp Soy

1tsp Mirin

Pinch Salt

ginger (grated)

2g potato starch

spring leek (chopped)

edible flower

Method

①Mix soy milk and brine together and steam for 10 minutes in a steam proof bowl.

②Soak Kombu (kelp) in water over night.

③Combine the kelp dashi (step ②), soy sauce, mirin, salt and grated ginger into a pot and bring to a boil.

④Place the above mixture over a medium heat. Once it begins to simmer, gradually add the potato starch slurry, thickening the sauce. Stir well until glazed.

⑤Pour the sauce over the tofu and place the spring leek and flowers on top for garnish.

UNIQUELY KYOTO  

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Azusa Hosoya and Eiko Nakayama with Kyoto salt, tea and yuzu

I’m thrilling to a therapeutic  massage of my senses. Not only am I tasting, fragrancing …Kyoto ‘s famed salt and tea from Thamba and  Yuzu the famous Japanese fruit but also having a massage with them. Azusa Hosoya and Eiko Nakayama   skillfully explain and then soothe my senses in the serene and beautiful Four Seasons Spa.

The Japanese Yuzu ( a good source of antioxidants that can help replenish dead skin cells) is a unique blend of lime, lemon and grapefruit. It’s health benefits  are mainly from the vitamin C that can be found in it, which is a powerful antioxidant.It makes the skin smooth and silky and even fragrant.I love Yuzu’s tart flavor with overtones of mandarin orange, though it is rarely eaten as a fruit,  but in Japanese cuisine its aromatic zest (outer rind) is used to garnish some dishes, and its juice is commonly used as a seasoning.

Sure, it has a long tradition and is believed to ward off winter colds and flu. But right now what is delighting me is that it is rich in multivitamins and minerals,  and it is helping me to glow, reboot and rejuvenate.

Tasting Tokyo

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Chef Yuji Imaizumi, Michiko Fujikawa and Dharshan Munidasa at the iconic Sushi Soro.

I’m on a pilgrimage.I write from the holy of holies gastronomic destination, Japan. I revel in their unmatched reverence for the freshest of ingredients. We dine at the Worlds finest restaurants,  be it the three Michelin starred Ryugin where Yamamotosan dazzles with his luxurious flamboyance, the superlative Michelin starred Narisawa san serves up magic. Alain Ducasse’s starred and super elegant Beige to the inexpensive soba restaurants to Tsukiji the Worlds largest seafood market…it’s a dream come true. And flying in specially to guide me is Chef Dharshan Munidasa (half Japanese) whose three award-winning restaurants in Colombo are internationally well-known.  At the heart of it all is theiconic Mandarin Oriental which  brings contemporary elegance to Nihonbashi, the historical and cultural centre of Tokyo commerce. Here in it’s iconic Sushi soro (sushi in the sky) maestro Yuji Imaizumi takes us through  a Omakase experience “Edo-mae” style of traditional sushi. The massage of the senses continues in their heavenly space in the sky spa. “Totally Tokyo” rice plays a stellar role, plum, green tea, pine and bamboo too.. Food is God. And I bow in deep reverence. My Japanese language lessons are coming in handy enough to say “I love Japan”  Nihon Ga suki  dis

Magnificient Massage of the Senses

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PAUL JONES AND DHARSHAN MUNIDASA (STANDING CHEF YUJI IMAIZUMI). THE SUSHI WITH THE SEAWEED ROLL IS THE “MAKI ROLL” AND THE OTHER ONE IS “NIGIRI”

I’m in gastronomic heaven! And I didn’t even have to die to get here. I write from the capital of the worlds finest gastronomic country. I revel in this unmatched reverence of the freshest of ingredients, be it rice, tea to seafood and more. And here’s the surprise, I do so in its  exclusive sushi restaurant as well in it’s oasis-like, fabulously well-appointed award-winning spa. I am regaled with a massage of all my senses. And all this in the iconic Mandarin Oriental which  brings contemporary elegance to Nihonbashi, the historical and cultural centre of Tokyo commerce. True to its surroundings, it blends the best of past and future architectural splendor. The dynamic Paul Jones who helms this landmark has a strong India connection (having lived and spearheaded hotels there) and now in Tokyo is not only extremely well-versed in the Japanese culture but is as much a sushi fan as he is of Indian food.

SUSHI IN THE SKY

We float above Tokyo, on the 38th floor of the iconic Mandarin Oriental and the floor-to-ceiling glass windows  serve up breathtaking views of the revered Mt Fuji and the dynamic city panorama. No wonder this magnificent Sushi restaurant is called Sushi Soro (soro means sky). In front of us in this 8 seater Sushi Soro restaurant is maestro Yuji Imaizumi who has over 20 years of refined experience.

We all know that Japanese cuisine is acknowledged to be the worlds most sophisticated cuisine, it combines the artistic with precision, freshest and finest of produce, seasonality and a reverence that is unmatched in the world.  Explaining the cuisine’s intricacies. is Chef Dharshan Munidasa, who is half Japanese and half Srilankan and coinicidentally, his award winning Japanese restaurant in Colombo is called Nihonbashi. He guides me through the worlds largest fish market, Tsukiji, (where he flies in to regularly buy seafood and more) too.  Over a relaxed Omakase experience, we watch this true master of Tokyo’s authentic “Edo-mae” style of traditional sushi cuisine as he works deftly  on the sushi counter sculpted from a 350 year old Japanese cypress tree.

SUSHI: DID YOU KNOW?

We all know that “su shi”(sour rice) and it represents the category of Japanese foods which consist of cooked, seasoned rice served with fish, meat, vegetables, or other ingredients. The common varieties are maki rolls ( wrapped with seaweed or Nori), nigiri (individual mounds of rice topped with other ingredients).

But did you know ?

*That the most important component of sushi is rice? Think about rice to sushi as dough is to pizza: if your dough is no good, the pizza is no good, regardless how excellent its toppings.

*Sushi etiquette: Eat the sushi with your fingers (not chopsticks). Use the oshibori – a hot, moist towel neatly rolled up, to clean your hands during the meal, but when done, make sure to place it neatly to the side, not crumpled in a ball.

*You will be served pickled sweetened ginger (gari) , a swipe of wasabi ( a kind of horseradish).  We make the common mistake of eating the gari with the sushi, actually it is meant to be eaten in between the sushi bites. We make the common mistake of adding wasabi into soy sauce and using it as a dipping sauce. Wasabi can be added to pieces of sashimi, or placed atop nigiri – but not mixed into soy sauce. Many omakase bars will pre-lacquer your nigiri with soy, so you won’t even have to worry about soy sauce and dipping.

But let’s say that a few nigiri pieces are not pre-sauced. Always, always dip your nigiri fish side into the soy sauce, as opposed to dunking the bottom rice part head first. If you dip rice first, too much soy will be absorbed, and overpower the fish’s delicate flavor.

Totally Tokyo

Excuse me while I get rejuvenated  through Five different Routes with a spa journey featuring five essentially Japanese ingredients. This in the heavenly space in the sky spa. In Mandarin Oriental’s treatment named “Totally Tokyo” you can be sure rice plays a stellar role, plum, green tea, pine and bamboo too.. Enveloped in sounds filtered through bamboo speakers and the fragrance of green tea, a pine-oil footbath, a plum-salt scrub, and a warming rice hull pack expertly applied by the therapist while the everhelpful and super efficient  Michiko Fujikawa fluently explains it all in English. This ofcourse after the deeply relaxing shiatsu-style massage. Did I forget to tell you that through the big glass windows, the sacred snow-capped Mt Fuji in the blue winter skies is also blessing my magnifcient massage of the  senses?

India Shining Globally

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GLOBAL POWER COUPLE. Mukesh and Vandana Luthra at COYA

The world is distilling itself on my plate. I write from Dubai, where Im dining at brand new Caribbean, Peruvian, Modern Indian and more. But it’s the India-shining factor which is dazzling me here.I dine (again)  at the finest Peruvian restaurant  in London and Dubai, Coya. Vibrant authentic Peruvian cuisine seduces. Here are the surprises,  not only is it owned by the Indian brothers Gulu and Arjun Waney, even  their executive  chef is Sanjay Dwivedi. Creating international waves too are my charming dining companions.  Global power couple, Mukesh and Vandana Luthra, pioneers of the wellness and beauty  industry. The globetrotting gourmets jetset between South Asia, Middle East, Africa, India and  Uk tending to their everexpanding company. No wonder Padmashree Vandana Luthra has been on the Forbes and Fortune list of the 50 most powerful women in business. Powering this global business, the dynamic Chairman Mukesh  shared the most amazing insights about global food too.

From ceviches sparkled with Peruvian chillies to raw fish hamachi with Kolkatta’s jhalmudi and that at the brand new, stunningly beautiful Jaan. Perched in the penthouse of a swish downtown hotel,  maestro Farokh Khambatta’s Jaan, is Dubai’s hottest opening. It dazzles with it’s tantalising  repertoire of progressive Indian creations. Yet another Indian is making global waves. Jai hind!

Home Talent Unlimited

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I’m rejoicing! It’s a joy to discover Chennai’s amazing home-bakers and catering talent. To fly down from Mumbai for our”Whats hot Tasting session” and to get a taste of the delicious and  healthy variety too that is cooked up at home. Today,  I feature two of the talented participants. More follow in the fortnights to come.

Warm brown Baking Studio

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WARM BROWN‘s SURESH AND VYANJANA NAMBIAR with CHEF DHARMEN MAKWANA AND SHVETHA JAISHANKER

Please take a look at the accompanying photograph. I shot it in the midst of our “whats hot tasting session”. You can see the array of home made goodies which   Suresh and Vyanjana Nambiar  from Warm Brown Baking Studio  bake up. Not only are some of these healthy and tasty but have many a nutrient benefit too. They use flaxseed, millets, amaranth and more.  Some are low calorie and others gluten free too. They are gifted home bakers who  take orders  for  organic and regular cookies, brownies, cakes, breads and also pesto, hummus, pickles  etc. Their USP is no margarine or preservatives in both the organic and non-organic products . Vegan, organic, glutenfree can all be sourced from them.

Before I tell you more about their creations, let me introduce my official tasters. Shvetha Jaishanker, former Miss India International not only painstakingly tasted through each and every item of each and every home baker (as did Chef Makwana) but also shared her opinion. Not only is she a discerning foodie but her book Eat well, look great will be a treasure trove of foodie-secrets to looking as fabulous as her. And ofcourse, the official taster-in-chief, was the brilliant and creative executive chef Dharmen Makwana. He  heads up the stunningly beautiful Leela Palace by the sea. Having honed his skills  nationally and internationally, Chef Makwana  now masterminds the  Leela Palace’s  authentic Chinese and Indian restaurants and a versatile all day dining restaurant too. So together we tasted our way though  “Warm Brown’s” organic 100% Whole wheat bread, gluten free Millet cookies, Vegan cookies, Organic, gluten free cakes and muffins, Organic savouries, Organic breakfast cereals, amaranth Ladoos, Millet Ladoos, Flaxseed sesame dates Ladoos, Fruit and nut energy bars.

We all loved the texture and flavor of the amaranth cookies the most. Delicious flaxseed onion crackers,   Millet ladoos, and flaxseed sesame date ladoos too. We all  agreed that those looking for Gluten free items have found their mecca here. As though all this wasn’t enough they also make the most delightful Hummus and Pesto to add zing to your snacks and meals and home made drinks like Jaljeera  and Ginger Nectar. Cheers to that.

Warm Brown Baking Studio, 30/18, 2nd Main Road, CIT Colony, Mylapore.  Ph. Tel 98840-60652

Milagro

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SRIHARI SHETYE of MILAGRO’S HERBS

If you are looking for Italian herbs to spike your dishes with zing, but are particular about them being organic and grown with utmost care, then look no further. Sreehari Shete & Ishwarya Thirumalai  from Milagro grown these herbs in their farm in Ooty. They do so  with utmost care. They do not use any chemical pesticides or fertilizers and ensure that their herbs are completely organic. These herbs are then airdried.  Ask for their Oregano, Rosemary & Thyme  herbs. Here’s the best part, you can get them Bottled, Fresh and also Potted. Rosemary Crackers, Rosemary Scrub, Herb Regalo, a festive offering too.

Visit them on  www.themilagro.org or facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/themilagro/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf or pick up the herbs from them at  J block, No. 47, 7th street, Annanagar East.

YOU ARE INVITED

Discovering. Tasting. Writing. Especially about home bakers and caterers has been my passion for the past two decades. I ve done this in Pune and Delhi and continue to do it in Mumbai and Chennai. This column was a result of one such #whatshottastingsession.  Are you a home baker? Provide foodie services out of home?  want to be part of our next #whatshottastingsession? And be featured here? The please mail  mail rashmiudaysingh2017@gmail.com,Anjalisharma966@gmail.com, instagram, tweet @rashmiudaysingh. Call 9884065010 Watingly yours.