21 April 2007

Vijaya Venkat's all-natural lunch box ideas

Vijaya Venkat is one of the pioneers in holistic nutrition in India. The Health Awareness Centre (THAC), which she calls a temple, is the institute that she set up in 1989 by Vijaya Venkat and now run with daughter Anju Venkat.

I had had the good fortune of talking to her around 6 months ago, as part of an interview for a feature and I found her thoughts utterly simple yet completely inspiring. Just last week, it came to my knowing that even Bee had used Ms. Venkat's tiffin service when she was working in Mumbai.

I was thrilled to bits when the Times of India's Mumbai supplement Mumbai Mirror carried Vijaya Venkat's recipes for lunch boxes for the whole week. I cannot help but share with you.

She believes that we must eat food as closest to its natural form as possible. Fresh fruits and vegetables, sprouts, spices are all considered first grade food and you'll find steaming as the commonest cooking technique in all her recipes.

Day 1 and 2 - Cutlets, Veg salad with tadka, Three bean salad, Potato soup

Day 3, 4 & 5 - Tricoloured vegetable salad, Chilla, Bean sprout, Alu chat, Corn salad, Stuffed vegetables

So that takes care of Monday to Friday. Do make your substitutions to make many more such healthy meals.

I have a question for you. In most of the recipes like cutlets etc, she asks us to steam the potatoes and other starchy vegetables in recipes. How do we go about steaming a potato? I have never done it before, whole or sliced or is there any other tried method?

Also, I must share with you that I made my first cheesecake today using all Indian ingredients. No cream cheese and no springform pan and no baking either! In this weather, baking would kill! That's besides the point though.

I have tasted it (read as eaten a large slice) and it tastes fantastic. The Swadeshi Strawberry Cheesecake will be up soon, may be tomorrow itself, so do keep a watch on this space!


Anita said...

Wouldn't pressure cooking be a kind of steaming too? Steaming under pressure - after all, steaming is 'to cook in steam'.

bee said...

how to steam a potato: take potatoes in a microwave safe bowl. wash them (we use the thin-skinned ones and don't peel them as peeling removes nutrients), let the water cling to the potatoes, add a tablespoon or two more if you like. cover the bowl loosely with a plastic bag (poke a hole in it), or cover it with a lid, leaving a little opening for the steam to escape. microwave on high. it takes 5-6 minutes for 4-5 medium potatoes. poke with a fork to test doneness.

g said...

Hi Nandita! Just wanted to let you know about one of the BEST kitchen thingies that I have purchased in a long time. Last summer, in India, I saw some stuff by Tupperware. One of the things -- its called a Multi-Cooker is infinitely great. It is food grade plastic and can be used in the microwave for actual cooking (as ooposed to reheating). Within this, nestles a plastic collander...and that is what I use for steaming everything! I have to say that since I brought this thing, I have not boiled any veggie even once. Even the hardest, newest potatoes (cut into quarters) take about 7-8 minutes to completely steam. It does cost about Rs. 800 but you also get a idli stand.
Hope this helps!

Meeta said...

Hi Nandita,
I always steam my potatoes (and other vegies). I have one of these bamboo steamers used for Chinese cooking and one very similar to it in metal. The metal one fits perfect into any sized pot. Put a bit of water in the pot. Fit in the steamer, place your potatoes and cover. Steam for 15-20 minutes! Voila!

junoesque said...

hi nandita

you rock you know ?? vijaya venkat's recipes i have been looking for -for a really long time. now i wish i could be served the grub too without having to make it...and please to do a chocolate cheesecake thanks muchly...


Paz said...

Thanks, Nandita! Congrats on making your special cheesecake!


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Revathi said...

Hi Nandita
Included a few of your recipes in the tamil recipes index. check out http://tamilcuisine.blogspot.com

Let me know if you have any other tambaram recipes u want to add.


marriedtoadesi.com said...


Thanks for the link to VV's recipes. I have bookmarked it and plan to make all of them! They sounds so fresh and delicous!


Priya said...

I am on a strict day and night watch here :P

Kavitha said...

I think i have fallen in love with your website..really delightful..and am waiting for ur cheese cake and oats for dinner posts..this is one of my lunch time reads...and planner for dinner :)

Nupur said...

Like Bee, I also use a microwave to steam veggies. I always use a glass bowl rather than a plastic one, because at high temperatures, plastic is prone to leaching into the food. Microwave works perfectly for all kinds of veggies: potato, sweet potato, peas, carrots, beans, cauliflower, etc.

Anonymous said...

Infared Sauna Kid said:

I'm starving after reading these. bring on the cheesecake

Vanishree's Corner said...

I like your blog very much.
If you are interested in link exchange than please leave a comment on http://vanishreerajamarthandan.blogspot.com/
Happy Blogging :)

Anonymous said...

I think you second link to Day 3-5 is pointing at the wrong page.

Almost Vegetarian said...

Steaming potatoes is easy. You do it as you steam any item: in a colander placed in a pot of boiling water.

Here's how I would handle the potatoes: Because potatoes are so dense, I'd cut them into quarters. Then I would place the quarters into the colander. Put a lid on the pot, keep the water at a soft boil, and give it at least 20 minutes to steam. To see if they are done, poke them with a sharp knife. If there is no resistance, they are done. It's as easy as that!


Anupama said...

its so nice to visit your blog after so long. How are you dear? I feel as if I am visiting a friend after a very long time. i like vijaya venkat's recipes.Its always inspiring to read healthy recipes on your blog.

Mahek said...

where can i find vijaya venkats healthy recipes or articles which she had written

Anonymous said...

I would think twice before using these women! they are not physicians and have no clue of side effects of their diet if associated with a fatal disease. my friend died because of their diet and had they had a medical background, she would have survived. If you want to use them- consult your doctor, particularly if you are facing a fatal disease. Also, too bad there is no insurance associted with these people as they can be sued in other countries for neglegance of medical knowledge before prescribing a diet!

alex alexa Lunch Bags said...

These are really very nice ideas here shared. It's easy to make lunch bags
in quick time. With the help of handkerchief one can easily make lunch
bag, just put lunch box in between handkerchief and tie all the four corner of it.

Harjeet said...

This lady is just making fool to all people. She is neither a physician nor a nutritionist.. Her whole family are doing this types of business of making fool to the innocent people and earning money.. she is telling doctors are cheating people and no need of any medicines for any disease. If you have any disease that can be cured by taking diets and fruits..she dont have any general common sense about human anatomy or physiology, pathology .. only thing she can do to blame the doctor and blame the medicines.. so funy .. advising fruits to the kidney failure patient . dont have the knowledge that high potassium can bring a cardiac attack... so stop making fool to the innocent people... you don't have right to play the life of people by advising your garbage ideas.. yes medicines have some drug side effects but that does not mean you will stop taking treatment of your any disease.. your body's immune power can help to protect some extent when there is not any pathological changes. When there is any pathological changes without the aid of treatment it can not be normalise.. if you have 90% heart blockage what is the option in front of you? if you will not take any treatment you will get a heart attack. just come to acute disease- like acute pneumonia. if you will not take antibiotic and will go on eating fruits will it cure? so stupidity

Harjeet said...

Right.. never go by her garbage ideas ..

bsukh said...

i agree i visited her last yr for my mother who was a terminal stage cancer patient, end stage kidney disease and diabetes and bed ridden since 3 months, without looking at any reports she suggested i take her off all medicines for a week and put on juicing diet, when i came back and asked my doctor he said that would kill my mother. needless to say, the juicing did not help and when i called her back, she did not even recall who i was!! one size does not fit all,if it did so many inocent patients who could afford her treatment/ fad diet would survive. very expensive and suggests the same diet to all candidates who visit Thac! please be wary and not act in desperation especially in situation like myself.