Wake up fit
Indians are the toughest to impress when it comes to breakfast cereals, says Michelin star chef Vikas Khanna. By Siddharth Choudhary
Our smart cities are now glistening with new opportunities for the young generation. With a rising demography of hard-pressed professionals, it is not uncommon for working Indians to skip a meal to save time and more often than not skip the most important meal of the day — breakfast. Coming to their rescue is masterchef Vikas Khanna.
Heading a table at the LaLiT, the chef improvised on the commonest breakfast staple, oats. “We wanted to conserve the flavour of home-cooked food as well as provide a healthy alternative to a quick, cooked breakfast,” said Vikas when asked about his reason for a breakfast drive. So he has closely worked with a known oat brand and developed flavours like the south Indian dosa or the masala upma.
Talking about the nutritional content of packaged food, Vikas explained, “We Indians are the toughest crowd to impress since we expect a lot. Hence it was difficult to come up with something that was delicious as well as healthy and that was the reason that my first 40 recipes were rejected. It was after my constant dedication that I finally came up with a recipe which provided the nutritious value of oats along with the familiarity of morning favourites.”
Khanna mentioned that young Indians are particularly clued into the nutritional component of every morsel that they eat. “Earlier it was easy to sway the consumer as all we had to serve was a dish that would feel good on the palate but it is only now that people have become equally demanding about the health aspect. Sometimes, they are even willing to compromise on taste because of it,” he said.
To demonstrate the convenience of cooking as well as the customising appeal of the product, chef Vikas presented a live demonstration of his own simple technique. He used the raw oats idli mix to make diskettes and added a few ingredients of his own such as curd, asfoetida, jackfruit and beetroot juice. “I am not good at cooking. But I have a strong sense of flavours. So all I have to do is mix a few random ingredients and they turn out to be an exotic delicacy,” he added with a smile.
He also explained the changing dynamics of Indian food habits. “I am the type of person who believes in change but in the case of Indian food, I would say that most of the changes that have happened over the years have done no good. For example, take maida or refined flour. It is not an Indian product as we would always use wheat which is a much healthier option. Traditionally, we have always used unprocessed jaggery instead of refined sugar. So as far as change is concerned, I would say let’s change current habits to the way that they were. I have no idea about the Indian political scenario but I am aware of the increasing cost of packaged food. Therefore, I created this product which is not only healthy but is also affordable for the middle class working person,” he added.
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