From ancient Indian households on to the world platter, Indian grains have come a long way. We sat down with Anahita Dhondy, Chef at SodaBottleOpenerWala, for a quick chat about locally-grown, nutrient-rich ingredients that are creating a buzz around the global. Read on as she puts the spotlight on the revival of these dietary essentials and food trends that'll be ruling this year.

P.S - If you’ve resolved for a fit and healthy year ahead, we have a fun activity planned for you. Chef Anahita will be taking over our Instagram to answer all your dietary concerns, on 31st Jan. Head to our Instagram stories for more details. 

1. In your opinion, how did Indian ingredients become the it trend?

"I think Indian food overall is gaining a lot of popularity because of the diversity in our ingredients, its nutritional value and focus on plant based or vegetarian cuisines. All over the world, people are embracing vegetarian dishes because they're healthy, full of colour and flavour. In terms of Indian grains, what's most important is that the locally popular ones like Ragi, Jowar, Bajra etc, are super nutritious! They are tiny yet power packed. Not only are they gluten-free, it only takes 1/10th the amount of water to grow, making them a sustainable choice. These millets have been a part of our ancient culture, growing in our country since ages and it’s made for the soil in our country. People in India had lost touch with it, but now they are realising its nutritional value and how healthy it is. For example, Ragi, which is a finger millet, has three times the amount of calcium that milk does. So people who cannot have milk, can eat Ragi instead as a calcium substitute. Across the globe, these grains are getting popular. But it's important that in India too, we go back to making these locally available grains a part of our diet."

2. What are the healthier grain options we can add to our daily diet?

"Millets are amazing options to be added to our diet. A lot of people are confused about how to go about it. They are actually several different types, under this category. To name a few, you have the buckwheat flour (kuttu ka aata), amaranth, bajra, jowar and ragi which are very easily available at a much cheaper price than quinoa. These can be easily added to your daily diet as a granola, bread or even a normal chapati."

3. What food trends do you see for 2020?

There are quite a few food trends that are on the rise in 2020, and they all point towards a very sustainable and healthy living. More than a trend, it is actually something that we need to go back to. We need to focus on zero waste, we need to realise that we shouldn't be throwing away food that’s full of nutrients. Another trend is popularisation of local, indigenous cuisines. Like cuisines from the Northeast or from from a particular village in the South or a particular state. And of course, lots of vegetarian and vegan options will be explored this year.

4. As a Chef, what's your focus on this year?

My focus this year is to discover more such ingredients and recipes and share it with the customers who come to SodaBottleOpenerWala and on my social media pages. Also, learning, teaching and always following the practises of - Sustainable Development Goals which focuses on fighting hunger. In whatever way chefs can, they should contribute to the Social Development Goals that the United Nations has set up. From making better menus to creating sustainable packaging, these contributions can be so much more valuable for a better future.

Chef Anahita is always cooking up some interesting recipes that are healthy and also super tasty. Scroll through her Instagram feed and you'll find yourself tempted to head to your kitchen.

Here are 3 of our favourites from the lot:

Besan ka Chila

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Besan ka Chila / Puda / gluten free gramflour pancakes ... Whatever you might call this dish it's been a breakfast staple for so many people in India. Because so many of you messaged asking for this recipe, I've done a quick step by step (it's there in my highlights) plus I'm noting down the recipe here. Ingredients: 1 cup besan (chickpea flour) 1 1/2 cups water 1 onion fine chopped 2-3 green chillies (depending on how hot you want it to be) 2tbsp of coriander Salt to taste 1/2tsp Haldi (turmeric powder) 1/2tsp red chilli powder 1tbsp of oil Serve it plain, or with a stuffing. Popular options for stuffings are paneer (cottage cheese), potatoes, or even cheese. Method: 1. In a bowl, add all the dry ingredients. 2. Add the oil and whisk till it's lump free and got a thin consistency (refer to story highlights please) 3. Heat a non stick pan, add a few drops of oil. Pour the batter and swirl the pan for it to flow evenly. 4. Cover with a lid and let it cook for 3-4 mins on medium flame. 5. Flip (take that chance) once it's got a beautiful brown base. 6. Serve hot with whatever you like, sometimes it's really comforting just with some chilli sauce too 😋 Pro tip: consistency is key ! You'll make them beautifully if your batter is thin. Chefs tip: play around with what you'd like to add in here, think beetroot, ragi flour, freshly tossed root veggies, the options are unlimited. Happy cooking and happy eating, looking forward to all your pictures! lots of love 👩‍🍳❤️ #chefsrecipes #becauseyouguysaskforsomanyrecipes #easypeasy #sunday #anytimesnack #yum #delish #vegan #glutenfree #indianrecipe #chefanahita #india #foodislife #foodforever2020 #love #nomnom #paneer #eatwell #eathealthy #cook #cheflife

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Millet Salad

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Warm seasonal millet salad 🥗🌱 At Smaka pa Stockholm (Taste of Stockholm) stage and we had 15mins to cook something, it could be from your native place, it could be something local! I decided to champion Millets. What are Millets? While most Indian do know what Millets are, I'll still repeat for the others to know the importance of it. Millets are a type of grain, common examples are ragi, buckwheat, sorghum (jowar), bajra, kodo millet, foxtail millet, amaranth and many more. They are gluten free, high on protein, they keep you full for a longer period of time, they are sustainable as they use 1/10th the amount of water used for rice, and trust me they have a distinct earthiness which as a chef I love cooking with. These Millets are from @originalindiantable Here is the recipe: Ingredients: For the Millets: Kodo millets - 500gm (you can use buckwheat or foxtail) Olive oil or any local oil - 3tbsp Onions - 2large Tomatoes - 4large and some cherry tomatoes Green chillies - 3/4 depending on how how you want it Ginger garlic paste - 1tbsp Parsi Sambar Masala - 2tsp Coriander stems/leaves - a handful You can chop up anything you like or have in the fridge. In my mystery basket I had the following: Cucumber - 2 Rhubarb - 1/2 stick Bellpeppers - 3 Red radish - 10 Spring onion - 2-3 For the dressing : Lemon juice from 5-6 lemons (small ones if large then 2) Olive oil - 10tbsp Red chilli - 4 Mint - 1tbsp Coriander - 2tbsp Salt and pepper Garnish : Lemon wedges, chillies, amaranth pops and black rice pops Method: 1. Wash the Millets a minimum of three times. It's removes bitterness. 2. In a pot add the Millets and double of that of water, cook for 15-20mins remove and spread out in a big tray. Pour some olive oil and mix. 4. Fine chop all the veggies that you want to add. Keep aside 5. Slice the onions and tomatoes, green chillies. In a pan, add oil and cook with gg paste and masala and mix in the millets. 6. For the dressing, mix up all the ingredients. If you want to add some chilli sauce or vinegar add now. 7. Toss it all up and serve! #Eat #healthy #sustainable #yum #chefsnanifesto #sodabottleopenerwala #eatforum18 #salad #recipe #cheflife

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Onion Peel Salt

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ONION PEEL SALT • Last recipe of 2019 and wanted to make sure I shared this incredibly #zerowaste recipe full of umami which so many of you wanted. So here it is, onions are anyway super expensive, with this powder you can season dishes and add that onion flavour. All you need are the onion skins that you need after peeling your onions. Wash and dry them overnight. In a very low oven, about 100°C or a dehydrated (we don't have one yet) dry them till you check on them in the morning. Some bits would still be moist, so make sure you increase the temperature but don't let it burn. The important step is now to let them cool at room temperature, and then put it into a big blender which would bring it down to small pieces. Then into a smaller finer blender to get a beautiful purple fine salt. You can strain it to make it even more fine. You can add salt to this mixture and keep it to garnish dishes. I love using it on Indian rotis, Dal, Chaat it's delicious and no waste. 💚 Let's bring in 2020 with more ideas on how we in the hospitality industry, we as chefs can achieve the #sdg2 #zerohunger through #zerowaste which is one part of the bigger picture! 👩‍🍳👊 #Foodislife #zerowastekitchen #cheflife #onionskin #salt

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