The turkey has been cooked, curried and consigned to the dustbin. The fireworks have exploded, the party poppers have popped and the fizz has gone flat…So, too, your mood, and energy levels. Not, unfortunately, your post-festive belly. So see January not as a dreary drudge, but as an opportunity to give yourself an innovative, Indian-inspired overhaul- eating in or out, follow this guide and you’ll be literally shaking it all about in no time.
Raw Choc Pie company
Gotta have choc. No matter how stringent you’re trying to be. But at least up the ante with the high-antioxidant raw stuff. Healthier, more satisfying, and very rich indeed, this wonderfood’s appeal is heightened still further with judicious application of Indian flavours. One of Raw Choc Pie’s fat chunks of pink Himayan salt-, cardamom and apricot-, chilli-, or ginger and orange-spiked offerings with a mid afternoon cuppa provides a pick-me-up both psychological and physical.
The bars are made from a nutrient-packed base mix of raw cacao nibs, coconut butter, agave, lucuma, carob and ground almonds. Raw Choc Pie also sell the raw nibs in their naked form- crunchy, bitter, nutty… and lovely sprinkled over anything from porridge to salad. They’ve also come up with a terrible, wonderful relish far better than Nutella. Benefits of raw chocolate consumption includes a boost to mood, immunity, vitality AND libido. Watch out, world!
East India Company’s ‘Mood Infusions’
Everybody knows a nice cuppa makes the most mountainous problems into mere molehills, none more so when it’s a mug of something as marvellous as the East India Company’s new infusions. Up or down; hot or cold; the most contrary of (chutney) Marys will find a suitable tonic to drown their sorrows in a rather wholesome manner. ‘Balance’ might even help you forego the traditional biscuit-y accompaniment; or at least minimise its digestive effects.
Dark, cold mornings are ‘orrible, the time when a blast of the herbals in the aptly-monikered ‘Life Force’ are most warranted and welcomed. Ginseng, ginger, black pepper and liquorice are warming and will have you perkier than a very perky thing indeed. If your new zest for life has aggravated your co-workers, slip ‘em some ‘Love’- nothing dodgy you understand, just a blend of cinnamon, ginger and elderflower to soothe jangling nerves.
After all that mistletoe and midnight action, a few workplace lurgies could be rearing their ugly heads- in prevention, get a cup of the immune-boosting ‘Expression’ down you. Far more appealing than the sickly Lemsip clutched by the working wounded. And, when you finally stumble home, a dynamic duo of lavender-rich ‘Intuition’ and soporific ‘Bliss’ will have you in the land of nod in no time. Just be sure to use the loo before you hit the hay.
Pukka Herbs’ Chywanaprash & Ayurvedic supplements
Mary Poppins may have tunefully suggested that ‘a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down’, but millions of Indians would attest that it’s the daily dose of chywanaprash that keeps their constitution constant. The tarry, darkly delicious decoction tastes rather decadent- a high-energy blend of jaggery, ghee, Indian gooseberry, cardamom and medicinal herbs- but it’s an age-old tonic consumed by nobles, sages and wise men to ward off all manner of ills.
Pukka also offer a pretty comprehensive complement of Ayurvedic herbal remedies and teas claiming to ‘Balance’, ‘Refresh’ or ‘Relax’. If your diet is somewhat, ahem, lacking, take a couple of the supportive, all-natural food supplements for a test-drive. To battle January ennui, try the ‘Seven Seeds’ blend with ginger and asafoetida for digestion, and the ‘Organic Tulsi’ for improved mental wellbeing.
Gurpareet Bains’ ‘Indian Superspices’
Gurpareet Bains is both an interesting bloke and a clever cook. He’s managed to fuse the science of spices with traditional Ayurvedic principles, yielding recipes which are not only simple but also damn tasty. You might be dubious about tipping in turmeric by the tablespoon, but the proof is in the pudding (speaking of, that Kashmiri-style blueberry and fennel flan is a definite keeper).
This is serious and powerful stuff- evidenced by the warned ‘psychoactive properties’ caused by excessive consumption of the nutmeg-rich, much-hyped ‘insomnia-no-more’ lamb. With his spicy storecupboard, Gurpareet has a cure for every ill- from sniffles to aches to general January malaise. One caveat- seek out a good Indian supermarket, or your superspice diet will also be a shade superexpensive.
For more information on Gurpareet Bains, visit www.gurpareetbains.co.uk
Rustic Indian Punjabi sauces
A big, tasty bowl of home-made yellow dal and a couple of chapattis is a lovely welcome home from the hostile January office you feel you only just escaped pre-Christmas- indeed, sometimes the idea is all that gets you through the day. But when you’ve got more appetite than time, spice cravings are generally answered with a takeaway or ready meal, leaving you sluggish and stuffed, but somehow blimmin’ less than sated.
But if you can muster the energy to stir-fry a pack of mixed veggies, a few prawns or some lean meat, doing the old ‘snip and tip’ with a sachet of one of Rustic Indian’s Punjabi cook-in sauces will reward you with a hearty feed. The tiny fledgling family company pledges to keep everything nutritious, wholesome, and gluten-free- for the leanest eats, choose ‘Tharka’, ‘Jeera’ or the scorching ‘Fiery Mirch’.
For more information on the range and current stockist details, visit www.rusticindian.com
Cafe Spice Namaste
With his tongue firmly in cheek as ever, Cyrus has decided January is the month of the ‘Skinny Indian’. Light on calories and simply massive on flavour, the dishes utilise Greek yogurt, whole grains, and olive oil to render them almost saintly. Knowing your Isle of Mull scallops are sustainable and your chargrilled coconut cod MSC-certified extends the satisfaction.
You won’t get a franky like Cyrus’ on Chowpatty beach- this one comes with Greek yogurt raita and winter carrot slaw. He’s even managed a trim makeover of Goan-style confit duck legs, bulking the dish with fresh, herby rice and serving with griddled onions. The maligned sprout is also given a chance- shredded, spiced, fried in ‘little dollops’ and served in a light gravy. Slimline Goan- give it a try.
The ‘Skinny Indian’ menu is available throughout January. For more information and to book, visit www.cafespice.co.uk
‘Healthy eating’ is a key part of Indali’s philosophy, rather than a January special. Number 1 in a Channel 4 poll of the ‘top 10 healthy restaurants’, the menu eschews ghee and cream for aromatic, fresh dishes that retain maximum nutrient value, and, praise be, taste, too. Breads include grains like Alpine barley, oats and wholewheat; seafood and grills are abundant; and the a la carte is an interesting and enticing read.
Dr Kartar Lalvani, a pharmaceuticals tycoon, developed his wholesome, organic approach as a result of his own increasing intolerance to rich, hot Indian food. A sort of ‘reverse Willy Wonka’, his ingenious blends of probiotic yogurt emulate classic cuisine to a tee- albeit a slightly smaller sized one. A feast of papdi chaat three ways, soft-shell Madras crab bhuna, Hyderabadi malai kofta, dal makhani and gajar halwa? You’ll need a healthy appetite.
For more information and to book, visit www.indalilounge.com
Potli’s Jay Ghosh and Uttam Tripathy have decided what locals need is a cheering, tasty and rather healthy morsel in the middle of the day- lunch without the pot-li belly, if you will. Coming in at under a fiver and inside 250 calories per dish, your wallet will be in as rude health as your newly-honed body.
They’re a tasty bunch- try egg or chicken tikka wrap in a mustardy tomato sauce. The tandoori chicken or paneer sarnies, meanwhile, even come with fries and salad. Jay’s parents harboured aspirations for their son to become a doctor- so you might say, in his concern for Hammersmith diners’ health, he’s doing them proud.
For more information and to book, visit www.potli.co.uk
Cinnamon Kitchen & Cinnamon Soho
Those spicy folk at Cinnamons Kitchen and Soho do look after their customers. And chefs Vivek, Abdul and Raju are deft when it comes to creating flavours that are only improved by a lightness of touch when it comes to ghee, cream and all the delicious fatteners we should be avoiding come new year. To help with the old detox regime, they’ve concocted a duo of superfood menus- light, and, I daresay, causing a fair bit of delight.
Indian and Eastern ingredients are known for health benefits, and Cinnamon Kitchen packs a fair whack of them into each dish. Things like fenugreek, goji berries and green tea don’t just look good and taste good- gor blimey they do you good, too. The menu is for a minimum of two diners, but, with salmon and kokum berries; root veggies with goji pilau; and poached apple with green tea sorbet, you should be able to find a willing accomplice.
But if willing accomplice needs a little lubrication to become thus, venture to Cinnamon Soho. Slightly less virtuous, perhaps, the naughty sibling of the restaurant group is going for ‘detox-retox’, serving a ‘Superspice’ dish with a cocktail- albeit a ‘healthsome’ one. And, if you reckon you could do with a bit of help moderating your mithai consumption back home, sign up for a ‘Healthy Inspired Eating’ masterclass with Cinnamon Club’s head chef Rakesh.
For more information on the ‘Superspice’ menus and masterclass, and to book, visit www.cinnamon-kitchen.co.uk
Conceived as part of an art project by Manali Jagtap Nyheim, curated by Cristiana Bottigella, the dishes that make up the Mahatma Thali are composed to form a perfectly balanced meal according to the wise man’s thunks on ideal ingredients and ratios. Chef Claire Fisher has done a stellar job turning the permitted goats’ milk, wheat, rice and dry cereal, seasonal raw fruits and veggies, jaggery, pulses, and pure ghee into a right good feast.
The cleverly copious banquet features relishes; goats’ yogurt curry; nutritious and nutty red rice; dal; a tasty Keralan carrot-and-spinach fry; rasam; a goat paneer salad with barley and almonds; a wheat-y, fenugreek-y roti; and a rich-yet-wholesome moong dal payasam. As if further incentive were required, part of your bill also supports an art organization backing upcoming women artists in India. The great man would be pleased.
Food for thought (aka new year, new thinking):
You’ve only got to look at Anjum Anand to realise she’s in both rude and vital health. Despite spending the majority of her time at stove or table, she retains a slinky shape and energy levels one simply wouldn’t attribute to a working mother-of-two. But, you see, she follows the principles of Ayurveda- a holistic approach meaning ‘the art of living wisely’- underpinned by the idea we are all inclined towards one of three ‘Doshas’- pitta, kapha, or vata- and must adjust diet and lifestyle accordingly.
Ayurveda is a reassuringly ancient science, and will do far more for wellbeing than new-fangled foolishness. Basically, identifying your Dosha (caused by an excess of a certain element) and keeping it in balance through suitable diet and exercise regulates your body. Airy vatas, firey pittas, earthy, watery kaphas and various combinations of the humours all need different food and treatment- although, sadly, none of us need biscuits by the barrel.
For Ayurvedic treatments, visit Garden of Pomegranates Ayurveda Centre, 7 Claremont Road, Bickley, BR1 2JL, www.gardenofpomegranates.com
‘Mughul India: Art, Culture & Empire’ Exhibition at The British Library
Because whilst you’re looking to streamline your silhouette, you should also be attempting to expand your mind. The British Library’s exhibition features scriptures, objects d’art and intricate paintings dating back to the 16th century reign of the Empire’s founder, Babur.
Focusing on all 15 of the major Mughal Emperors, Malini Roy has curated a colourful, multi-textured exploration of a fascinating historical period. There’s even an instructional manuscript for pigeon fanciers. Providers of plenty of food for thought, those Mughals.
The British Library, 96 Euston Rd, NW12BD, www.bl.uk