By Sharukh Vazidar
There is a growing number of restaurants all over the country that adopt an alternative approach be it vegan, organic, ayurvedic or spiritual.
One sign that consciousness is growing is the number of alternative restaurants that are coming into existence. Organic, ayurvedic, vegan, spiritual and natural eateries are slowly taking root in the country. The fact that they are popular and cater to a discerning clientele is proof that the concept of holistic eating is growing. We are beginning to realise that it’s not just the end product, but all the ingredients, how those ingredients were made, right up to the fertilisers used for the crops, that affect us. Even the thought behind the person cooking your food can affect you. Let us look at some conscious eateries where you can treat your body justly and indulge your gastronomic senses at the same time.
This restaurant’s motto is ‘healthy khao, tasty khao’. It’s prepared based on ayurvedic principles and is specifically designed to be satvik in nature, to nourish the body and calm the mind at the same time. This type of food is high on water content (pumpkin, gourd, leafy vegetables), whole spices, moong dal, and special types of rice. It doesn’t include wheat, curd, tomato, tamarind, lime, or fermented foods.
Reasonably priced, the all-vegetarian menu is extensive. There are curries, soup, rice preparations, snacks such as pani puri, pav bhaji, and sandwiches. Some mouthwatering teas, juices, and milkshakes are also on offer.
Located in a peaceful spot down a side street, it is surrounded by a lush garden including willowy bamboos, making it as refreshing to the senses as to the palate. In addition to the restaurant, the Ayushakti Health Centre also provides ayurvedic consultations, therapy, and medicines.
Bhadran Nagar, Cross Road 2, Off S.V. Road, Opposite Milap Theatre, Malad
An enterprise of the ISKCON temples, the cuisine is prepared with the rare ingredient of on or bhakti, because everything served is first cooked for and offered with love to the Lord Govinda. This prasadam is then served to the guests.
With an aim to provide fresh, nutritious meals at affordable prices, they serve a wide variety of pure vegetarian cuisine, which is freshly cooked on the premises throughout the day. All of the dishes are free of meat, fish and egg with many dishes suitable for vegans too. Onions, garlic or mushrooms are not used in any food. Govinda’s offers a wide variety of choices with a range of flavours and dishes. There are sabjis, rice, dal, salad, sweets and many other preparations to choose from. They also have a selection of English treats such as homemade ice cream, cheesecakes and gateaux and traditional Indian items such as sweet rice, laddu and barfis. They also hold regular cooking classes. Pop in when you are next in this area or after visiting the temple next door.
Juhu and other ISKCON Centres in the country
With the tag of ‘international aisnav cuisine’, this restaurant chain serves vegetarian food without any onion or garlic. A restaurant-cum-cafe, they have a variety of cuisines ranging from South Indian to Lebanese to Italian to North Indian to Chinese, as well as sweets, breads, and cakes. A very pious ambience, with bhajans and religious melodies playing in the background, the restaurant follows the same philosophy as ISKCON, all food served is first offered to the Lord.
Jagdamba Bhavan, Senapati Bapat Marg, Opposite Matulya Centre, Lower Parel Also at Shivaji Park, Mahim, Malad, Ghatkopar, Belapur
Realising the growing trend, Taj Lands End has also started their own natural restaurant. The nouvelle cuisine prepared with carefully selected farm-fresh ingredients uses unusual cooking styles, which bring out the subtle flavours inherent in the home-grown vegetables, succulent meats and delectable seafood. The cutting-edge techniques using steaming broths, citrus zests and versatile oils achieve a fine balance between indulgent flavours and healthful cooking. The alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages made with organic fruit and vegetable juices add to the experience.
Navdanya Slow Food Cafe
Set up in 2004 by NGO Navdanya and Italian activist Carlos Petrini, the unusually named Slow Food Cafe is the antidote to McDonald’s and the likes. The idea is to get people to sit back and enjoy an authentic Indian meal made from nutritious grains, pulses and exotic spices. The small restaurant allows you to view the ingredients which go into making your meal, while sipping on lemon or mint tea. The founders firmly believe that fast food is a passing phase and Indians will never completely give up their rich and varied culinary heritage. The Slow Food Cafe proves just that, considering the locals and students who flock here each day.
Hauz Khas and Dilli Haat
A few minutes away from Anjuna Beach in Goa, this little restaurant offers a mainly vegan menu. It is open 9 am-10 pm Monday to Saturday and Sunday 5 pm-10 pm. Breakfast menu includes their own homemade brown bread toasted with a choice of toppings, including avocado, herbal tofu, herbal cheese, almond butter, peanut butter, cashew butter, honey and jam among others. Also available is muesli, cornflakes or porridge with soya milk, and fresh fruits. For non-vegans, egg dishes are available.
For lunch and dinner, there are a range of pastas with vegan and vegetarian sauces, sandwiches and burgers, including various tofu burgers, salads, pizzas including some cheese-free vegan pizzas and a selection of main courses, including lentil dal and brown rice, the macro bowl – brown rice, tofu and steamed veggies – and creamed tofu and spinach on a bed of brown rice. For dessert, the range for vegans includes tofu chocolate pie and cashew and coconut squares, and for non- vegans, a selection of homemade ice cream. To drink there are a wide range of fruit and vegetable juices, and herbal teas, green tea, mineral water, etc. Power boosting smoothies and soya milkshakes are also available.
For some serious stress busting sessions along with health food, head straight to Blue Tao. Meet healers, yoga teachers and meditation experts over a glass of pumpkin meso soup and a bowl of mystic salad. A guitarist plays here most evenings and a masseur from Dharamsala provides you with tips for stress release. The restaurant also houses an aromatherapy shop. In all, head here for food for the body and soul.
|A truly healthy meal at Lumiere, Bangalore|
This excellent organic Tibetan restaurant is located near Oxford Stores in Anjuna. A vegetarian restaurant, they serve both Tibetan and Indian dishes. Some of the house specialities include brown rice, sandwiches including avocado and cheese sandwiches, herbal teas and fresh fruit juices. Orgasmic has a great laid-back ambience. They also have a small in-house store which sells brown rice, organic noodles, books, Indian classical music and natural medicines.
Specialising in Italian food, complete with a clay pizza oven, the newly opened Brownie restaurant and German Bakery are organic eateries in the holy city of Varanasi. They also offer continental, Chinese, Thai and Indian food. The bakery has a big variety of organic bread and cakes, and 50 different kinds of organic cheese like Mozarella, Gorgonzola, Gouda, Emmenthal and so on.
Both the German Bakery and the Brownie restaurant are part of the Learn for Life – Another World is Possible Society. The main goals of this society are education of poor local children in the society’s school and supporting a project for women empowerment.
Bungalow No 53-1, near Old Dak Bungalow, Cantonment COCHIN
With a vision to show the world a sustainable ‘seed-to-food organic’ business model, the people behind Lumiere are taking the first steps in making the world a more sustainable place to live in.
They use organic vegetables from their own farm and other neighbouring farms. Only organic rice, wheat, spices and oils are used. Milk, dairy products, and poultry are obtained from their own farm, from organically bred cattle and poultry. They also serve seafood, caught in the deep sea, which is relatively free from pollution. They have freshly squeezed fruit juices, vegetable juices, sprout and wheatgrass juice.
This apart, they serve standard fare such as the ever popular Punjabi, South Indian, and Chinese food. Here’s a place you can have your regular treats with the added bonus of organic wholesomeness.
G-268, 11th Cross Road, Panampilly Nagar, Cochin 27/7, Sri Kote Ashirwad Towers, Outer Ring Road, Doddanekundi, Marathahalli, Bangalore
|Flower flavoured mocktails at Swadshakti|
Aruvi Puruvi Poonkuruvi
This unique restaurant has some natural and holistic principles which it adheres to. The food is served within five hours of preparation and is not refrigerated. Leftover food, if any, is composted. Only unpolished rice is used for all preparations, and only pulses with skin are used. Jaggery is used in place of sugar, refined items like maida are not used, no fried item is served. Only mud, brass and steel containers are used for cooking, while mud and brass containers are used for serving.
For one thing, this venture has been a rallying point for environmentalists and organic farming activists as one viable working option. Using organic vegetables, it publicises the name of the organic farmers verbally or through the media, thus providing them a special respect and additional dignity to their work.
SRM Road, Lissie Junction
The Rajkeeyam meal, a health meal at this restaurant at Sanjeevanam, an ayurvedic and naturopathic treatment centre in Chennai, is a speciality. The meal includes slices of nendram banana and five assorted beverages. The first is flavoured with dates, the second is almond milk, the third is buttermilk with a tinge of haldi, the fourth is vegetable soup and the last red rice gruel. Served on a banana leaf are sweets made of wheat, salads and vegetables cooked in a variety of styles. Both unpolished and polished rice are served along with sambar, rasam and kallan, followed by payasam. Finally, a spoonful of honey to aid digestion.
The menu is planned by a dietician and ayurvedic expert keeping in mind the total calorific value and other nutritional information. Butter, chilli powder, refined flours, asafoetida, vinegar, garlic, onion or any artificial ingredients are not used, while only a little oil is used to cook. All the ingredients are natural and fresh and there is no refrigerated or reheated stuff.
Old No.24, New No.76, B. Venkatarathinam Nagar, Adyar, Chennai
No. 50, 100 Feet Road, Opposite Kendriya Sadhan Madivalla Bus Stop, Koramangala IInd Block, Bangalore
Seva Cafe is an experiment in the shared joy that comes from humble giving and selfless service. The mantra of Atithi Devo Bhava, meaning the guest is God, is internalised and practised here. When you dine at Seva Cafe, you are not viewed as a customer, but instead as a treasured guest, as part of a family. At the family level, there is love-based-giving, which can be got to the larger level as seeing the world as one family, one perception, expanding the circle of love.
The wholesome vegetarian meals are cooked and served with love by volunteers and by a small, modestly paid staff – mostly graduates from Manav Sadhna’s Earn ‘N’ Learn programme. The menu changes daily and both Indian and continental cuisine are on offer. When you dine at Seva Cafe, your meal is offered to you as a genuine gift, already paid for in full by previous guests. You become part of a Circle of Giving, which is modelled more closely to that of a family. Here, there are no bills. It is left to you to pay it forward with your heart.
Shopper’s Plaza, 4th Floor, Opposite Municipal Market, C.G. Road
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