#Veganuary: Day 4 (All meals)

It’s wedding season in India and that’s the reason I’m getting delayed with my posts. I’m busy designing some stuff for clients. But here’s my day 4 meals. 

Breakfast was dosa. Yes, again. It’s my favourite. So there’s no change in that part of the meal. As for the other meals, it was an interesting mix. 

I had to meet a friend for discussing some work plans. We went to this restaurant near my place, That Madras Place. I love their Parsley Fries. It’s French fries tossed in oil with sauteed garlic, spring oniona and red chilli. It is quite filling but a little on the pricier side. 

For evening snacks and tea, my mother made some steaming hot Earl Grey tea. I ate that with the Brown Rice thattai. It’s a bit difficult not to have biscuits. But with time, you get used to it. 

I was to have dinner all by myself since everyone else had dinner plans. So I called up the owner of the same restaurant, who happens to be a dear friend too and ask her what the vegan dishes are. She said that all pasta cooked in tomato sauce wouldn’t have any butter or cheese as long as I mentioned no parmesan garnish. Apparently, the steamed rice dish with tomato sauce is tossed mildly in butter. So that’s off limits. 

So, I settled for the Tomato sauce pasta. Their quantities are quite big. So I had some that could be munched on the next morning. But it was absolutely delicious. Give it a try when you visit! 🙂 

#Veganuary: Day 3 (All meals)

I’m going to keep this short. It may become a little repetitive. But anyway, here goes my next post. 

Breakfast was dosa again. But my mother whipped out some spice-filled, authentic coconut chutney to go with it. The combination can never go wrong. If you haven’t already tried it, give it a shot. 

For lunch, the meal was simple but special. My mother made some pulao. It’s a mixed vegetable rice that is a dish in itself. Slightly different from the Paella in Spain, but very much similar in appearance. Sometimes you even add some cinnamon to it. It adds a unique flavour. There was salad as well with juicy tomatoes, onions, radish and carrots seasoned with lime. To add a little twist, we ate it with crispy Yam chips from our local chips store – Ganga Hot Chips. He has some good varieties of chips that you need to try out. Well, it was a healthy meal, indeed. 

Incidentally, day 3 was also my grand aunt’s birthday according to the Indian calendar. We usually buy her, her favourite sweets and savouries. This to round, we were determined to find vegan versions of them. And we succeeded. 

We found many websites that sell vegan items. One such site is Terra Earthfoods. They have a a good collection of vegan snacks, breads, sweets and chips. We ordered the kaju (cashew) katli. It’s not made with ghee. But with almond milk. They come packs of 6. The pieces are big. But what’s more important is that they taste no different from their milk counterparts. Just a slight, negligible aftertaste. But otherwise, it’s good to go. And completely satiating the sugar craving for vegans. 

We also got a pack of Brown rice thattai. It’s crispy and makes for a a healthy evening snack, especially since it’s not made with all purpose flour either. 

Do check out their website. They have an online store and three walk-in stores in Chennai. Their variety is impressive.

I must confess, a vegan diet comes at an expensive price. But it’s worth it when you’re doing it for the ethical reasons. 

The dinner menu saw dosa soda creep it’s way in again. This time with podi. 

Hope you’re liking my posts. Do write about your experiences in the comments section. 

See you tomorrow!

#Veganuary Day 2: Dinnner

The evening snack was quite filling. After a good cardio session, I made little space in my tummy for dinner. But since I had to order in, I really had sift through vegan options in restaurants. 

It is quite disappointing and frustrating to see that not many restaurants in the city offer a vegan fare barring a few like Ashvita Nirvana and The Brew Room. But even in these places, most of the vegan items are cakes and other desserts. 

I finally settled for crackling potato from Ashvita Nirvana. It is freshly prepared, crisp and crunchy. Fried in sunflower oil and olive oil, this starter is seasonsed with chopped garlic, red chilli ans spring onions. It is a bit oily and heavy on the stomach. Their portions are also big. So, it was a bit much to eat. Saved some for the morning! 🙂

Day 3 updates will come in tomorrow. Sorry about the lag. It’s been a hectic week at work. 

#Veganuary: Day 1 (Snacks & Dinner)

Day 1: Snacks & Dinner

Snacks are utterly crucial for me. I need to keep munching on something and life is incomplete without the occasional chocolate chip cookie or cupcake. But since that is a complete no-no for a week, I looked up sites that have vegan alternatives. There are a few. But I didn’t get enough time to order in between work. So I just bought mini samosas fried in oil (yes, I agree, fried equals unhealthy. Mental note to self: I will slowly cut down.). 

But dinner was quite different. My mother made a thick broth of pumpkin and coriander stem with garlic. It was delicious but tends to leave a slight bitter aftertaste. If you are having it with toast, it is alright. 

The toast was unique too. It was sunflower seed bread. This is available at the Gormei Market. They are small slices but a pleasant change in flavour from the usual varieties. Since we couldn’t toast it with butter, we used olive oil. The bread was topped with pickled Sundried Tomato which we got from this absolutely delightful place, The Farm, which is on OMR in Chennai. Do visit them! They have some interesting things on their menu. 

I’m going to take a nap now since I’ve got a round belly after eating so much. 

See you folks tomorrow! Do tell me what you think in the comments section. 

#Veganuary : Day 1

So I’m going to go vegan for a week, starting today (January 4 – 11). My mother and sister are joining me in this and I couldn’t be happier. 

I will be posting my meal updates for the next seven days. I think it’s important because these posts can help someone else trying out the same thing. The dishes can be easily found online. If you are based in India, you’ll be familiar with these items. 

Day 1: Breakfast

This morning, my mother prepared crisp Podi dosas and I ate it with coriander chutney. It was delicious. If you’re used to eating dosas made from ghee, then you can substitute it with oil. They are easy to make and can be eaten for breakfast and dinner. 

Stay tuned for more updates on lunch and dinner.


Before I go on to writing my travelogue, I think this post had to be written. Do read it and please comment and respond if you want to join in or have recipes to share. It will be absolutely lovely to hear from you. Moreover, I will be giving a day-to-day update on my experiences which I hope will be useful for others trying to go Vegan 🙂


Day 70: A fresh start for all of us, perhaps?

So here’s something I want to share with all of you. #January, world-over, is also celebrated as #Veganuary. It’s that time of the year when we a take a pledge to go on a vegan diet for a month. For some, this one month journey has led to them becoming vegan for  life!

Since many find it difficult to undergo a sudden change in diet for a month, they try it once or twice a week, for one whole week or alternate weeks or even a month and then try ways of adopting a vegan diet slowly in their lifestyle, making the shift gradual 🙂 This could involve consciously cutting down on milk products, honey and so on. 

I wrote about it in the newspaper last year and tried it for a week. It was difficult. But definitely, an eye-opening experience. 

This year, I’m doing it again. And my mother and sister are joining me. 🙂 Here’s a shout out to everyone else who wanted to try it or doesn’t mind trying it after reading this post. Doing it in a community always builds morale. And even if you’re doing it for a day, it’s a start. And it counts. 🙂 To all the vegans out there, help us out! Share some amazing recipes. And let’s give our two and four-legged friends a happy new year too! 

The doodle shows 2017 with happy faces of cows, pigs, chickens, bees and so on. :

Please tag your friends if you know they’d be interested 🙂 
The illustration is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. 


Chennai: When you think of Chinese, Goan, Italian or Kerala cuisine, vegetarian is the last word that comes to mind. Thinking of a fish-less curry or a pepperoni-less pizza seems absurd. However, this ‘ludicrous’ idea isn’t as bizarre as it may appear. A keen eye can spot pure vegetarian restaurants for these otherwise ‘non-vegetarian’ cuisines scattered across the country.

‘It moves, it crawls, it walks – it has to be on the Chinese menu!’ This stereotype that typifies Chinese food received a jolt when Balasubramani opened Flower Drum, a pure vegetarian Chinese restaurant in the heart of the city.

“People didn’t believe that Chinese food can be 100% vegetarian. It took me nearly two years to convince people to visit my restaurant,” says Balasubramani, who decided to open the restaurant after his Gujarati and Marwari customers in his previous workplace suggested the need for such an eatery.

The vast menu has kept the picky vegetarian in mind at every stage. “We don’t use eggs and our noodles are made of flour. Minimal amounts of MSG are used as vegetarian Chinese doesn’t require much,” says Balasubramani, adding that dishes are tailored to suit Jain preferences also.

Displaying Attachment-1.jpeg

The nine-year-old restaurant in Prince Plaza, Egmore has wooed customers with its large portions, reasonable prices and varied menu which has more than 100 lip-smacking dishes with a few house specialities like Buddha’s delight vegetable and Eight jewel vegetable.

Displaying Attachment-1.jpeg

“The slight Indian flavour to the Chinese dishes makes it better than the food available in other places. Since it is pure vegetarian, we don’t get the smell of non-vegetarian food,” says graphic designer Nidhi Shah, explaining that for families like hers, which visit only vegetarian restaurants, this food joint has given them a taste of Chinese delicacies.

Displaying Attachment-1.jpeg

Interestingly, the large vegetarian community in Poes Gardens led to Dario’s opening a pure vegetarian Italian restaurant.

“We have vegan options for our pastas and pizzas and our cheese is also vegetarian. All our desserts are eggless and the sauces are freshly prepared at our kitchen,” says Suresh Cumar, CEO (Operations), Rama’s F&B Co., adding that their mouth-watering homemade pasta has successfully replaced the pepperoni pizza.

Displaying Crespelle Ai Asparagi.JPG

Goa is best known for its seafood and beaches. But two vegetarian cafés in Panjim, Goa – Café Bhonsle and Café Tato – have earned their credibility because of their authentic Goan cuisine over generations. Their finger-licking bhajis (gravies) like Patal, Sukhi, Tomato, Almi, Usal and Chole with pav (bun) or poori have been favourites among locals and tourists for years now.

“We are known for our chilli bhajiya and banana buns and our food is gelatin-free and eggless,” says the owner Milind Bhonsle whose 95-year-old café is now a landmark in Panjim.

Bhonsle, who owns a non-vegetarian café too, says, “Around 50% of my customers are catholics and they prefer vegetarian Goan food. Over the years, I have realised that 75% of the people prefer vegetarian food over non-vegetarian food here.”

Tucked away in the streets of Pallimukku, Cochin, is a small veggie diner – Ambiswamy’s – serving traditional Kerala Sadhya everyday. “We use red rice instead of white rice while serving Sadhya on the banana leaf everyday,” says owner Bindu Vijaykumar, explaining how even non-vegetarians opt for the Puttu kadalai and Sadhya as it contains less oil and can be had everyday unlike the oily fish curry.

Also, the healthy food and hygienic ambience make it a regular halt for patients visiting the neighbouring Cochin Hospital.

(I had written this piece for the Times of India, Chennai on the occasion of World Vegetarian Day (2015). But due to space constraints few parts of the story were cut out. Here’s the full piece!)


CHENNAI: Have you ever wanted an exercise routine that is healthy and fun? Have you ever wanted to learn Merengue, Cumbia, Salsa, Latin-pop, Reggaetton, Bachhata, Calypsio and Samba all at once? If your answer is yes, then Zumba is exactly what you are looking for!

Inspired by Latin American dance styles, Zumba is an aerobic fitness programme that involves movements of various styles performed to the beats of Latin American music.

A typical Zumba session involves muscle strengthening, stretching and cardio exercises deftly incorporated with dance moves. Viewed as a high energy workout, it is seen as an effective way to lose weight.

“You burn about 800 calories in an hour. It is a workout where you exercise all your muscles at a time,” says Sagarika Ganeshyam, Zumba Fitness Instructor at the Russian Cultural Centre.

A research carried out by John Porcari and Mary Luettgen of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science found that participants in a single Zumba fitness class lasting for 32 to 52 minutes burned an average of 369 calories or about 9.5 kcal per minute.

Luettgen says that the reason a person burns a lot of extra calories in Zumba compared to a steady-state exercise like jogging is because Zumba is an interval workout that alternates between high intensity and low intensity movements causing the heart rate to move up and down.

They also found that Zumba burns more calories than cardio kickboxing, step aerobics, hooping and power yoga.

“I lost 13 kgs in just 3 months with Zumba and a healthy diet. It was good fun!” says famous independent singer, Shilpa Natarajan. She says that Zumba helped build her stamina. But more importantly, it helped her find her core. She adds that she enjoyed the catchy music which made her come back to each class.

That’s what makes Zumba stand out. Consistency is the key to any workout. The dynamism and energy associated with Zumba make you want to come back for more!

Apart from weight loss, Zumba has become the perfect solution to a number of health problems. Sagarika explains that Zumba reduces cholesterol, lowers the risk of heart attacks and effectively increases good cholesterol in the body.

Adding to this, Ridhima Suri (32), Official Zumba Instructor and Marathon runner says, “It brings people with low-self-esteem out of their shell and helps them discover themselves. It also helps people get out of depression.”

The advantage with Zumba is that you do not need any experience in dance. As everyone is focussed on mastering the step, no one is judging your clumsy moves.

Old or young, fat or thin – there are different Zumba formats to meet your body type like Zumba toning, Zumba Gold, Aqua Zumba, Zumba Kids and Zumba Kids junior.

Performed in water, Aqua Zumba is a tougher workout recommended for those suffering from arthritis, knee and back problems and injuries. This is because the pressure is not felt in the water, says Ridhima.

“I realised that I had exercised more in water than what I usually did on land,” says Shilpa.

But like any other workout, Zumba needs to be supplemented with a balanced diet. While it is easy to regain weight after leaving Zumba, Ridhima explains that the lung power and capacity developed during the session remain for a longer time.

A certified instructor is an essential ingredient in the Zumba package. They must provide individual attention and find out the health history of each participant to style the workout as per their needs. Zumba classes are less expensive than gym routines. A personal trainer in gyms can easily cost your pocket anywhere between Rs. 1000 and Rs. 10,000 whereas there is no additional expense for a trainer in a Zumba class which ranges from Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 5000 per month.

Slowly becoming the talk of the town, this Latin American workout is being increasingly localised. Grooving to Bollywood songs with Salsa steps has become a common sight. But is that a good thing? Apparently, not this time.

“Around 70% of the music must be Latin as per the Zumba Fitness rules. The class must not turn into a session of Bollywood dancing,” says Ridhima who is working towards standardising the classes with a group of other trainers.

With dance groups and gyms warming up to Zumba, it is important to remember that research studies on the effectiveness of Zumba are limited although there are many positive testimonials claiming its effectiveness. It is advised that you consult your doctor before undertaking any workout session.

As Chennai buckles up to embrace this new form of exercise, are you ready to join the Zumba bandwagon? With classes mushrooming in every neighbourhood, all you need to do is put on your shoes and sign up for this addictive, healthy workout!


Did you ever think that slapping yourself could actually keep you healthy? Well, some say that it works! Read on to find out!

CHENNAI, March 26: The five-day workshop on a Chinese self-healing technique called Paida Lajin,held at the TAG VHS Diabetes Research Centre, has shown positive results in the participants, according to doctors, staff nurses and participants.

Derived from classical Chinese medicine, Paida Lajin is a self-healing method promoted by E-Tao founder Hongchi Xiao.  Referring to it as an effective, simple, safe and universally applicable method in his book, Paida and Lajin Self-Healing, Xiao describes the technique as, “(…) the “simplest healing method”- Paida (patting and slapping the skin to draw out toxic waste in the body) and Lajin (stretching to make the body flexible, to cure diseases and to enhance overall health.)”. Lajin is practiced on a wooden bench called the Lajin bench. Continue reading