The world has never been more obsessed with food. From sourcing clean ingredients to practicing sustainable eating practices and unearthing our grandmother’s recipes, eating healthy has become our number one priority. It’s time to champion what is raw, indigenous and sustainable, and we are putting the spotlight on going back to our roots to celebrate our own indigenous produce.
In 2017, Condé Nast Traveller and Himalayan created India’s Top Restaurant Awards, the first definitive and credible list of the finest restaurants across the country as voted for by more than 100 jury members. These awards recognise not just India’s top restaurants but also the entire ecosystem that makes the restaurant industry what it is— from farmers, to homegrown brands, chefs and food writers. This year, at Condé Nast Traveller’s first virtual event, we put together a series of ‘Raw Conversations’ with Himalayan Natural Water, where we spoke to some of India’s foremost names in the food and wellness space. They shared their insights with us, spoke to us about what’s cooking in their kitchens and shared some simple, healthy recipes using raw, easy to find ingredients.
THE RAW & FINE PHILOSOPHY
The Himalayan Raw & Fine philosophy represents and applauds restaurants and chefs differentiating themselves with unique methods, who use naturally sourced ingredients that play a central role in providing a superior ‘raw and fine’ experience—very similar to Himalayan natural mineral water, where every drop spends a minimum of 20 years travelling through the layers of Himalayan rocks to get its unique balance of minerals. It is completely untouched, unprocessed and not purified in any way, to ensure its natural goodness is not altered in any way. “In the post-covid world, consumers are increasingly seeking such alternatives and therefore the brand philosophy of “Raw and Fine” is connecting with a much wider audience like never before,” says Kuttiah KS, Vice President and Head of Marketing, NourishCo Beverages. “It's also the reason why we believe that today's event “Raw Conversations” is so relevant.”
The first session of ‘Raw Conversations’ addressed India’s indiginous treasures, where the panel discussed the wealth of seasonal produce in the country and how the pandemic is teaching us how to appreciate what’s closer to home. Achintya Anand, founder of Krishi Cress, a farm in Chattarpur that supplies fresh produce to many of our top restaurants, explained that chefs are now championing indigenous ingredients. “The conversation has gone from who is your lawyer to what ghee are you using?” he says. “Other than seasonal there’s more importance on local, especially due to the restriction on the import of products.” For those of us who are still a little nervous about identifying produce that’s just right, Ananda had a few tips, especially when it comes to picking the perfect avocado. In a nutshell, never judge an avocado by its colour. The best way to judge an avocado is by touch. If it’s hard and rock solid, it’s not ripe.
Our second panelist, Roshni Bajaj, graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York City, who is a respected food critic and journalist today, talked about how we have come to understand the importance of food and what it can do for our bodies. “We are looking at food more as medicine,” she says. The journalist also predicts that eating seasonal will only get more popular. A few examples she mentions include Chef Prateek Sadhu making garum, a fish condiment, using pea skin instead, Woodside Inn’s ghee roast between buns or The Bombay Canteen’s soft shell crab tacos where an uttapam substitutes the taco.
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