‘Health food needs to be redefined’

‘Health food needs to be redefined’

By Poorna Kulkarni


India is a culturally diverse country, with each region offering its own distinct cuisine and flavours. The variety of ingredients and spices make the Indian meal wholesome. But for quite some time now, the traditional food has been put down and called unhealthy. And people are going for alternatives. For instance, instead of white rice, many are opting for brown rice, potatoes are being replaced with sweet potatoes, and many are using olive oil to cook Indian food. We speak to celebrity chef Ranveer Brar to know about the current food trends and his take on fitness. 

Mindful Eating 
Many call themselves foodies and like to try different cuisines. But while doing this, they are not conscious of the fitness factor. The chef says, “I think the definition of a foodie is quite broad. Over the years, it has come to be associated with someone who eats a lot, but there are other aspects of being a foodie. I think, mindful eating is important.” 

Many follow fancy diets like intermittent fasting or Keto Diet as they feel they can’t attain their health goals with the help of locally grown food.
“Why not?”, wonders Ranveer. “I think all the traditional recipes are based on ancient wisdom. Actually, the definition of healthy eating has changed a lot. Health food needs to be redefined. What really matters is not the food that has exotic healthy ingredients. For me, it has more to do with understanding that health and well-being are correlated. I believe the soul won’t be happy if the body isn’t happy. Eat for the broader perspective of the self,” says the celebrity chef. 

As a chef, does he face any challenge of coming up with alternative ingredients and dishes for people who are into and fitness?
“I think initially it is challenging for both the chef to cook and people to consume different food, though, it is easy to overcome. Also, I feel that swapping food items can have an effect on health in the long run. It makes us more mindful about food,” says the chef who believes that the state of mind one cooks with also reflects in the food. 

Being a chef is not an easy task, one has to be around food 24X7. With cooking and tasting new cuisines, it can be difficult to maintain fitness, but Ranveer does it all like a pro. He swears by yoga and kalaripayattu when it comes to his fitness, apart from hitting the gym regularly. “Yoga and kalaripayattu help in instilling mindfulness which translates into mindful eating, this in turn helps in taking care of bigger problems,” he says.
“Also, when it comes to my daily meal, it looks like a bit of things from places wherever I travel to. I prefer to have more locally grown stuff, he adds.”

Sharing a diet hack for Sakal Times readers, the chef says, “Our diets have become too refined, like refined and processed flour, sugar and other products. We have to un-refine it.”

And the one comfort food he completely banks on is Khichdi.

Figs and Banana Smoothie
Prep Time: 10 min
Serves: 2


  • Figs...5-6 
  • Banana...1 
  • Honey...1 tbsp 
  • Vanilla essence (optional)...1/2 tbsp
  • Yoghurt...1/2 cup 
  • Ice cubes...4-5 
  • Fig for garnishing...1


  • Remove the pulp from the fig and put it in a mixer jar.
  • Add in banana pieces, honey, yoghurt and ice cubes. Blend well.
  • Pour it into a tall glass and garnish with a fig slice and serve chilled.

Almond Milkshake

  • Prep Time: 5 min + overnight soaking 
  • Serves: 2 
  • Ingredients
  • Almonds, soaked overnight and skin removed...12-15 
  • Soy milk / cow’s milk, chilled...2 cups 
  • Sugar / honey...2 tbsp 
  • Cardamom powder...½ tbsp 


  • Add all the ingredients to a mixer jar and blend well.
  • Remove in a serving glass and serve.

Preparation Time: 20 min
Cooking Time: 20 min
Serves: 2

For Grilling

  • Green zucchini, cut into slices... 1/2 cup 
  • Yellow zucchini, cut into slices... 1/2 cup  
  • Cherry tomatoes..    4-5
  • Paneer, cut into slices..    1/2 cup
  • Olive oil..    2 tbsp
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

For Dressing

  • Orange juice..    1/2 cup 
  • Lemon juice..    1 tbsp 
  • Honey...    1 tbsp 
  • Olive oil..    1 tbsp 

For Wrap (assemble)

  • Quinoa, cooked...     1/2 cup 
  • Avocado, cubes   
  • Iceberg lettuce leaves....    a few


  • For the grilling, combine all the vegetables and paneer. Drizzle olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Grill the veggies and paneer on a grill pan on each side for 2-3 minutes. Remove and keep aside. 
  • For the dressing, in a bowl combine orange juice, lemon juice, honey and mix well. While whisking, gradually add olive oil so that it combines well.
  • Mix together the grilled vegetables, cooked quinoa, avocado and orange dressing.
  • Lay out individual lettuce leaves, portion out the mixture in each leaf and roll each one to make a wrap. Secure with a toothpick or make a neat knot using a spring onion green stalk. Serve immediately.

Preparation Time: 25min
Cooking Time: 15min
Serves: 4

For Chicken 

  • Chicken breast...     1 large 
  • Salt to taste 
  • Black pepper powder..     1/4 tsp 
  • Lemon Juice..    1 tsp  
  • Olive oil..    1 tbsp  

For Couscous salad

  • Water/chicken stock..     ½ cup 
  • Olive oil..    1 tbsp 
  • Garlic cloves, crushed...     2-3
  • Ginger powder..    ¼ tsp 
  • Turmeric powder..    ¼ tsp 
  • Cinnamon powder..    ¼ tsp  
  • Cumin powder...    ½ tsp 
  • Couscous.     ½ cup  
  • Raisins..    1 tbsp 
  • Cucumber, chopped...    ¼ cup 
  • Red bell pepper, chopped... ¼ cup 
  • Lemon zest..    1 tsp 
  • Coriander leaves, chopped... 1 tsp  


  • Season chicken breast with salt and pepper. Apply lemon juice and olive oil. 
  • Grill the chicken on flame till chicken is nicely cooked. Turn off the flame and keep the chicken aside. 
  • Now for couscous, heat water. To the water, add garlic along with the spice powders. 
  • When water has boiled, add couscous and turn off the flame. Cover with a lid and keep for 5 mins. 
  • Now fluff the couscous with fork. Add raisins, cucumber, red bell pepper, lemon zest and mix everything. 
  • Slice the chicken and top it with couscous.  n Garnish with coriander leaves and serve. 

— Recipes by Ranveer Brar

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