Health on a platter: Taking the road to wellness
By Shubhangi Shah
At a time when many people were experimenting with Ayurvedic concoctions, herbs and spices to ward off the Covid-19 pandemic, chefs Rishabh Anand and Simran Singh Thapar of Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, along with food consultant Ankita Jalori, were working to curate a menu that promotes health as well as well-being. The result: Aujasya, an exclusive wellness program that focuses on the 2 “Rs”: “restore” (nourishment) and “renew” (mindfulness).
“Food is a small part of the Aujasya program, which will eventually include other aspects such as yoga and meditation,” Anand describes.
It may be small, but the food part seems to be elaborate. From a mix of salads and soups to a quinoa biryani and desi jackfruit curry to Italian risotto, made not with rice but millets, it’s a beautiful mix of healthy eating and fine dining experience. The drinks also offer a nice, refreshing mix of fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients, giving you that punch of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants without compromising taste or experience.
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“With our menu, we have also tried to revive some forgotten seeds and cereals. Not only that, all of our meals are calorie counted so you can indulge yourself guilt-free,” says Anand, adding, “Portion control is a crucial aspect of this program because the body just needs a certain amount fuel to operate and stay. in good health.”
“Also, the menu will change depending on the season,” he adds, highlighting the health benefits of eating seasonal foods.
It is also an included menu. For example, the desserts are made not with refined sugar but with monk fruit extract. Therefore, diabetics can also have it. Likewise, there are gluten-free options for people allergic to this protein. “There’s nothing on the menu that you can’t try,” says Anand, adding, “All products used are also organic.”
Although there has also been a focus on health and wellness in hospitality earlier, the pandemic has been a major impetus to push it forward. And we will see more such programs in the future, according to Anand.
However, curating this one wasn’t easy as it took a year and a half of researching, curating and creating dishes that were both healthy and tasty. The calorie count of the individual dishes was also a crucial aspect. The process involved “10 to 14 rituals for each dish to make it balanced and flavorful,” says Anand.
And the team seems to have managed to strike that balance. It’s not just a good and healthy dining experience, but a mindful experience that makes you aware of what’s on your plate.