This month, for obvious reasons, health is big on the menu

The minds behind 4 health-focussed menus available currently in Mumbai explain what makes a 'healthy' menu in 2022

This month, for obvious reasons, health is big on the menu

January brings with it an energy that reminds me of the 'good' class monitor—the kind that makes you do your homework and wipe the slate clean, without ever being overbearing or scary. The promise of a new beginning comes on the heels of resolutions: to workout, be more grateful, save more money, live and of course, eat better. Naturally, it's a ripe time for restaurants and F&B establishments to reassess their approach, revisit menus and therefore, also common for many of them to refocus on health, given that it's likely what consumers are seeking.

What is at an individual level, new grocery lists (with more kale and less Kurkure) or the downloading of fitness apps like Zero and MyFitnessPal, manifests itself in food in the form of new menus. Sugar-free, gluten-free, less carbs, more protein, probiotics and nutrient-dense. You know? The works. So, this year, we set out to speak to the designers, thinkers and executives behind some of these healthy menus, in a bid to understand better what goes into making them. And through it, ended up discovering the best ones available in Mumbai right now. Take a look.

When cheating is sweet

If you've tried to course-correct your diet, you'll know that sweets are the hardest part. But that really was not the driving force behind Bombay Sweet Shop's new drop, Cheat Sweets, a box of mithais ensconced inside ultra-cool packaging. "The idea came about during the lockdown last year," clarifies Yash Bhanage, partner at the brand, who channelised requests from guests for guilt-free and sugar-free variants of their mithai during a market research concerning brand loyalists in the form of this goodie box. At it's crux, the intent was less to force-feed or pretend to offer something 'healthy,' and more to simply help those looking to cut-down on their refined sugar intake. Elaborating on this, Bhanage shares, "Sweets can't be called healthy. We wanted to moderate some things to make it good for you and to showcase that goodness doesn't have to be boring. So, we reimagined Indian mithai without refined sugar."
What it has: A jaggery and coconut sugar-laced coffee milk cake, which is soft, crumbly and intense; a peculiarly good power barfi with jaggery, nuts and figs and a fudgy, earthy chocolate-flavoured khubani peda too.
Yash's recco: Coffee Milk Cake
How to order: Call on 9136192636

Tossing the healthy cookie

"Saloni and I both believe in using locally available ingredients. And we wanted to recreate old and classic cookies that were unprocessed and nutrient-dense," says health-focussed cafe and brand Yogisattva's founder, Raveena Taurani about her recent collaboration with chef and recipe developer, Saloni Kukreja. The two have worked on a range of cookies that make use of gluten-free, stone-ground flours like ragi and jowar, vegan chocolate, coconut sugar and seasonal fruits like fig and orange. Taurani, too, opines that while the meaning of 'healthy' could vary, the purpose is to make options available to those seeking them. "We aren't trying to convert anyone but rather, include them in what we are up to as a cafe. We've used flours that are easier for the body to digest, in terms of nutrient availability and the sweetener used is unrefined coconut sugar, which has a low glycemic index and is also, native to the south of India, making it accessible," she explains.
What it has: A double chocolate and ragi cookie called Bake My Day; Chip Off The Old Block, which is a classic chocolate chip cookie, both made with therapeutic-grade cacao powder and locally sourced organic vegan chocolate; a buckwheat thumbprint version with fig and orange jam called Un-Fig-Gettable; a sorghum-based cookie flavoured with miso caramel and named, You Make Miso Happy and the Ginger Snap, which has spiced molasses, jowar and almond.
Raveena's recco: Bake My Day and Ginger Snap
How to order: Call on 9867455009

Harnessing the science of nutrition

At the newly opened Recca, a European diner in Kala Ghoda, The Art and Science of Nutrition menu emerged as an alliance with sports scientist, Karishma Boolani. It features a range of dishes—from koobideh or kebabs and salads to lamb chops, espatadas, desserts and non-alcoholic drinks. The focus largely is on dishes that are free of sugar, grains, vegetable oil, chemicals, low-carb ingredients and whole foods. Shedding light on the menu, Boolani—who is the founder of consulting agency, Humanics—says, "Typically, there is little or no thought given to health when running commercial ventures like, restaurants, bars and cafes. Those that do focus on health, tend not to be inclusive by catering to niche health philosophies such as keto, vegan and paleo. When I met the team at Recca, I knew that they were just as committed to creating a healthful eating environment. As such, this menu has a good variety of choice, including for meat eaters, pescatarians and vegetarians."
What it has: This is a full-blown menu with segments on starters, mains, sides, desserts and beverages, which includes options like lamb, chicken and veg kebabs, summer pomelo, brussel sprouts and Shillong mushroom salads, alongside lobster thermidor and quail in a pink pepper sauce, to name a few.
Karishma's recco: Everything!
How to order: Call on 8433737366

Guilt, gluten and sugar free

At House of Amel, pastry chef Sanah Ahuja's brainchild, the focus has always been on indulgent bakes. "But since we started out, we realised the influence of gluten-free, keto and paleo diets that restrict sugar, and it continued to intensify. In order to meet these expectations, we decided to come up with a healthy menu this January," she tells us, speaking about their new line of vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free products. For Ahuja, eating healthy simply means eating in moderation, but at the same time, she's cognisant that it could mean different things to different people. Elaborating on this, she tells us, "For some it's a plant-based diet or veganism, while for others it's going off sugar. At House of Amel, we believe in celebrating ingredients, whatever they may be. In one of our desserts, we use almond flour and almond milk in place of regular flour and dairy milk while in another, we use jaggery powder and sugar-free chocolate instead of refined castor sugar and regular chocolate. These ingredients are alternatives, and may or may not necessarily mean healthier. They are simply substitutes."
What it has: The menu has two thought-out desserts—Passione, a vegan and gluten-free cake with 62% chocolate ganache, mango passionfruit compote, coconut crunchy; and Cacao, a chocolate and jaggery shortcrust with 80% chocolate flan, 80% chocolate brownie, jaggery mousse and 80% chocolate spray. They're both available in sharing and individual portions.
Sanah's recco: Passione
How to order: Call on 7506307607

Suman Mahfuz Quazi

Suman Mahfuz Quazi

Suman Quazi is a Writer, Host and the Food Editor with India Food Network and Start2Bake. She believes that while food is cultural, societal and intellectual, it is also deeply personal and is keen in contributing towards a dialogue around food in India that's meaningful. Her work has appeared in leading Indian publications like Midday, Living Foodz, Zee Zest, Deccan Chronicle, 101India and DailyO.

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