The pandemic has put the spotlight on health and nutrition like never before. It has made people pause and pay more attention to what they put on their plates. While it is a positive change to have come about, it has led to some confusion as well.
We all know that immunity-boosting and heart-healthy foods are a must. But what exactly are they? Celebrity chef and restaurateur Kunal Kapur, while interacting with indianexpress.com recently, answered some important food questions.
He talked about the importance of breakfast — the first meal of the day — especially for women, who have to manage both work and home. The chef also bust some myths concerning ‘diet fads‘, why cooking in healthy oils is a must, his personal food favourites, and the changes the pandemic has brought about in the restaurant industry, among other things.
What should working women keep in mind about planning their meals?
Women who work lead a very hectic lifestyle these days. They are great multi-taskers — not only managing household chores, but also frantic work pressure. In order to save time, they tend to skip breakfast, which can cause various health problems. It becomes crucial to, therefore, take care of oneself and the diet.
She can plan her meals in advance, eat small and frequent meals to boost energy levels, drink water, and snack right in the evenings.
Nutrition and immunity have become a priority. What then, would you suggest, as the first meal of the day, especially for women?
While women handle an enormous amount of work, it’s important for them to consume a nutritious breakfast in the morning that will keep them charged throughout the day. The first meal of the day should be nutrient-dense. Saffola oats contain the goodness of whole grain and essential nutrients like proteins, fibre, iron and other micronutrients.
Oats being versatile and quick-cooking, can be easily incorporated into various recipes like upma, pongal, dosa, uttapam, paratha and more.
In the olden days, we seldom heard people obsessing about cooking in healthy oils; what do you think has changed today?
There’s a shift in the perception; people are now more inclined toward following a nutritious diet. They are looking for the finest-quality cooking oil with heart-friendly properties. Good cholesterol has become their [health] mantra.
If you could summarise a healthy and nutritious breakfast, what would you include?
We lead a vigorous lifestyle and post pandemic, we have become more conscious and smart about our food choices. Hence, my breakfast is packed with essential nutrients that help me maintain a well-balanced lifestyle like a heartful masala dosa, which include antioxidants that promote gut health and keeps me active throughout the day.
What is your take on diet fads?
Fad diet plans are ones where the meal plan is not well balanced. Hence, it may lack one or many nutrients, causing serious deficiencies. I will just say fad diets come and go. What is important is we eat a balanced diet, include foods from each food group, exercise right and sleep tight.
How would you describe your journey as a chef over the years? What kind of change did the pandemic bring about?
The major change I have observed is sustainable living. Be it restaurants, or chefs, they are trying their best to find ways to reduce wastage and to put leftovers for better use. We either prepare another dish from the same ingredient or donate the food to people in need.
Another trend that is gaining popularity is cooking for convenience. People are preparing dishes that are quick to prepare and consume. Hence, there are a lot of innovative ideas coming in to tap the audience.
An Indian dish you love to prepare?
It has to be ghewar — it’s my signature dish which I’ve mastered over the years, very challenging to prepare but the final result is scrumptious.
If not a chef, what would you have been?
If not a chef I was destined to become a banker as I belong to a family of bankers. I did my graduation in commerce and if not hotels, then definitely banking.
What’s your favourite global cuisine?
That’s a tough one, because I love food from across the cuisines. There is no one cuisine for me rather different foods from different places that I enjoy!