The chefs are watching your calories
Going to a five-star hotel for a meal usually does not bode well for your diet. And business travellers, who eat there often, end up getting the worst of it. Now, however, things are changing, as hotel chefs become more cognizant of the health needs of the urban Indian.
The active food movement
Not too long ago, all-day restaurants in star hotels were about heavy-duty breakfasts, buffet spreads stacked with malai kofta and dal makhni, burgers-and-fries at midnight and an array of rich desserts. That is changing now, and restaurants have begun to include healthy eating options on their menus. While it may only be a small segment at some places, others are making it a selling point. Which explains the introduction of the ‘active foods’ concept at the Gateway hotels by the Taj group.
Chef Naren Thimaiah
“Active foods on the menu are a brand driver for the chain’s hotels across the country,” explains Naren Thimmaiah, executive chef at the Gateway hotel in Bangalore. “The concept was created after studying our customer profiles and their requirements,” he adds. Typically, the hotel’s guests are corporate travelers in the 25-30 age group, aware that they must combat the stress of their workstyle with a healthy lifestyle, but without the resources or time to do so.
“Most of them have an early breakfast and are out the whole day, often skipping meals or eating in a hurry during the day,” says Chef Thimmaiah. “Which is why we put a lot of effort into building a breakfast menu that is packed with active foods.” Active foods, he explains, are foods with a low glycaemic index and which are high in anti-oxidants. At the Gateway, a list of such foods – which includes, wholewheat cereal, legumes, fibre-rich ingredients – has been drawn up and dishes have been tweaked to become active foods. “ Even on the buffet of 75 dishes, nearly 50 are active foods,” Chef Thimmaiah says. “So, you are bound to eat healthy, without actually having to think about it.” He adds that he and his kitchen team have also worked to add flavour to the various active food dishes on the menu. “The common notion is that health food has to be bland and boring, but that is not so on our menu. The ingredients are packed with goodness and
the taste is intact,” he says.
Choose a healthier alternative
Chef Nimish Bhatia
There is heightened health consciousness at the Lalit Ashok, too, according to executive chef of the hotel, Nimish Bhatia. “In the all-day restaurant where the buffet is the most popular dining option, we always have a small selection of dishes which are cooked home-style, without too much oil or spice,” Chef Bhatia says. “And the salad bar comprises greens and micro greens – as opposed to the compound salads — which those looking to eat light and healthy can choose. “ Also, there is the wholewheat option when you order pizza, pasta or roti.The Lalit Ashok’s Northwest Frontier restaurant offers guests the opportunity to order dishes cooked in olive oil. “As for our Pan-Asian restaurant, Oko, the very nature of the menu here, with sushi, sashimi and teppanyaki dishes is designed for healthy eating,” he says.
Chef Bhatia adds that while the Indian diner took a while to acquire a taste for, say, sashimi, it is now hugely popular. “Eating healthy is also considered trendy now and that is something restaurants have to keep in mind,” he says.
According to diet and nutrition consultant Sheela Krishnaswamy, who conducted a workshop on active foods in association with the Gateway hotel recently, “Chefs today are definitely more conscious than about five years ago of giving diners healthier eating options. Besides that, you have the restaurants which are offering organic foods and healthy foods. So the trend is certainly in that direction.”
Written by Priya Bala, Food Critic
Powered by mDhil.com
Image: Getty images