He revived Awadhi cuisine in the United States through two restaurants he established in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts; was an adviser to a Saudi prince who runs a hotel chain in the kingdom; and tickled the taste buds of foodies in countries as diverse as Kuwait, the Seychelles and Kenya – and is now charting a new course by popularizing Vedic cuisine, whose ingredients “have been used for centuries” and “are the way of the future “. ”
“Vedic food interests me because the ingredients used in it have been used for centuries in our culture and are therefore time-tested. He promotes food products like regional fruits and vegetables, roots, herbs, teas and pulses, wild seafood and many more,” Chef Sunil Soni, who is currently an advisor to a number of Bharatiya hospitality majors, told IANS.
This is the way to go because “the food chain across the world is contaminated”, he added.
“There are a lot of problems with edibles, including the use of pesticides, antibiotics, genetically modified crops, and water contamination. This has resulted in the contamination of all kinds of animal feed and crops. All of these issues have led to (food) processing and that in itself is a problem. This has created a variety of health issues across the planet,” Soni explained.
“Most meat and its products are highly contaminated and cause many diseases, including obesity and high cholesterol. So we are moving towards plant-based proteins that have a similar texture and taste but are made entirely from plants. The process remains to be reviewed for future consumption,” Soni added.
Against this he said: “Evidence from the Vedas suggests that the diet of the Vedic people consisted of cereals, initially barley but later dominated by rice, legumes such as masha (urad), mudga (moong) and masura (masoor), vegetables such as lotus root, lotus stem, bottle gourd and dairy products, mainly from cows, but also from buffaloes and goats.
In Ayurveda, Soni said, “There are six tastes or rasas: astringent, bitter, pungent, salty, sour and sweet. Vedic cuisine recommends incorporating every taste into every meal according to your personal constitution in order to achieve a balanced diet and good health. These are natural foods that have been used in our culture for centuries and are therefore more conducive to our body.
Bitter/astringent fruits and vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli and asparagus, Soni pointed out, “are lighter and purifying. Many herbs and spices also have numerous health benefits. For example, turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon have anti-inflammatory properties. Basil is known to aid digestion. And black pepper can act as a diuretic and preservative with digestive properties.
Soni also emphasized the need for healthy cooking oils.
“Ghee is an Ayurvedic nutrition and superfood because it promotes healthy digestion, decreases inflammation, and may help reduce the risk of cancers and other diseases. Coconut oil may increase HDL (good) cholesterol and help you burn fat. Extra virgin olive oil (it doesn’t have to be heated) has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties,” he explained.
Then there is basmati rice and herbal tea.
“In Ayurveda, basmati rice is said to balance the three doshas (vata, kapha and pitta which control a person’s physiological, mental and emotional health).
“Tea, as such, induces all three doshas. For kaphas, caffeinated beverages like coffee can boost energy, while vatas can feel too drained. Herbal teas, which are caffeine-free and don’t excite the doshas, are great for all constitutions and have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease,” Soni explained.
Noting that “we as a society have to choose the right kind of food,” Soni said, “Our culture has given us Vedic food that has been proven over centuries. After a complete cycle, we realize that a Vedic diet provides all the healthy and conducive food ingredients for the human body. The change will be permanent towards Vedic food.
“This is the way of the future. Western countries are starting to follow the oils we use, the spices that are used in India and their herbs fill the supermarket shelves. Their advantages are visible. Most simple ailments can be easily corrected by switching to Vedic foods. It can prevent various major diseases that we have seen increasing in societies around the world and we know that prevention is better than cure,” Soni argued.
In this context, what were the culinary shifts he noticed during the pandemic? Will there be a gradual return to the pre-Covid days or are the changes permanent?
“Covid has changed the world. It’s here to stay and its variants will keep coming. The best way to fight it is to develop a good immune system. It is prudent to consume good foods that will keep us healthy and develop a strong immune system. People are now looking for a change in lifestyle and eating habits. They are turning to non-meat products, such as more vegetables and fruits, and incorporating them into their eating habits.
“More and more people are trying to grow their own food for personal consumption. It brought a change in the food industry that will stay. It is more in line with our ancient culture and religion. People have become more health conscious as poor eating habits have led to various diseases such as liver and kidney failure,” Soni concluded.
(The story was posted via a syndicated feed with minor edits to conform to the HinduPost style guide)