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9 must have foods during Winter

Winter is almost here. And with it, so is cold and cough and hundreds of other skin problems. But don’t worry, ‘cause we bring to you a guide on how to keep such problems at bay with these 9 easy foods. So go ahead and raid your kitchen, and thank us later!

1. Ghee

www.nativchefs.comCow’s ghee or clarified butter is rightfully considered as a superfood in our kitchen. Ghee is a great source of vitamins A, E, and helps in maintaining good cholesterol. Having a tablespoon of ghee in the morning is enough to keep your body warm for the day. What’s better? It also keeps lips and skin supple looking. Apply ghee on chapped dry lips and under your eyes and leave it overnight. Guaranteed results in three days! Now you don’t need expensive lip balms and under-eye serums anymore.

2. Honey excellent substitute of sugar, honey is proven to curb high levels of blood pressure, which aids in a healthier heart function. It is rich in antigens only found in flowers that cure cold and cough. These antigens also boost immunity, thereby keeping you overall healthy.

Squeeze out juice from ginger and mix it with equal parts honey to prepare a syrup. Have one spoon of this three to four times a day for a phlegm free winter.

Pro tip- Facing dry chapped lips? Mix honey with some sugar and few drops of coconut oil and scrub off dry skin from your lips!

3. Amla (gooseberry)


www.nativchefs.comAmla is a rich source of vitamin C- eight times more than an orange- which is essential in strengthening immune system. It is also loaded with chromium that aids in insulin production- a lifeline for diabetic patients.

Pickle these wonder fruits in a spicy achaar, or make sweet Murrabba by cooking it in sugar syrup, or cut it in small pieces and dry it out with sugar and salt for an ideal candy! Amla juice also helps in getting rid of dandruff and flaky scalp by providing much needed moisture. 

4. Haldi (turmeric) all know Haldi as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory wonder spice. But apart from it, it also aids bile secretion and relieves constipation which is often a problem during winters. A piece of raw turmeric or Kachchi Haldi can be added in your morning cup of tea, or a glass of warm milk with some haldi powder and honey will go a long way in keeping winter ailments at bay.

Pro tip- For a hydrated and dewy looking skin this wedding season, make a face pack by mixing a teaspoon of haldi with fresh cream, honey and milk. Apply it evenly on your face and neck and rinse off in 15 mins for a radiant skin.

5. Adrak (ginger)


www.nativchefs.comIn a book titled ‘Healing Foods’, ginger has established its superiority by being a quick healer of upset stomach and fighting nausea. It also keeps the body warm owing to the presence of many volatile oils in it. Adding generous amounts of ginger in morning beverages can help flush out toxins from body.

Boil half inch piece of ginger with a few leaves of mint and Tulsi, strain and add a spoon of honey. Finish it off with a dash of lemon and enjoy a healthy green tea! You can also prepare coriander chillies chutney with garlic and ginger to have as a side dish.

6. Millets winter crops like Bajra, Jowari, and Makka are nature’s winter gifts for our body because they are packed with all nutrients essential in facing cold temperatures. For instance, Bajra provides rich quantities of potassium and magnesium that are crucial in maintaining a healthy heart. Jowar is loaded with essential vitamins, minerals and about 50% of fibre that we need daily! Including these millets in your diet in this weather is a must. You can mix 25% of each millet flour in wheat flour to reap its nutrition every day. 

7. Sarson (Mustard)


www.nativchefs.comSarson seeds and oil are the hidden treasures of the Indian kitchen. They are power-packed with essential fatty acids which boost immunity and promote a healthy heart. Its anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties are known to keep infections at bay. Substitute your daily refined oil with Sarson ka Tel for these few cold months and enjoy an infection-free season!

Pro tip- Sarson oil also boosts hair growth and makes skin supple. Take a head-to-toe massage in mustard oil before showering and relish its wonders!

8. Jawas (flax seeds)

www.nativchefs.comHere’s another hidden treasure from our kitchen- flax seeds. These tiny wonders are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids- an essential fat that our body cannot produce on its own. Just small amounts of Jawas every day can keep cholesterol levels in check. And what’s better? It also aids in weight loss as it is rich in nutrients and can keep the stomach full for a longer time. Dry roast Jawas with Jeera till it turns aromatic and stores it for a healthy after meal Mukhwas! Or get creative and experiment- have our Jawas ki Sabzi with Chawal ki Roti. 

9. Gud (Jaggery) is a rich source of digestive enzymes, which help in regulating bowel movements and further cleanse our liver. Biting into a small piece of Gud after meals is a great way of kick-starting digestive process. Gud is also an excellent source of iron and folate that prevent amnesia. Just having a glass of warm water or milk with Gud in winters can keep your body warm. Our wide range of Laddoos prepared with Gud are also a great option to have as desserts.

Have any other creative ways to use these foods? Let us know in the comments below.

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The many terrains of Indian cuisine

“Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you what you are.”

Spoken by a true epicurean French lawyer in the 1800’s, these lines hold immense relevance to us even today. India is a country of 1.2 billion people, spread across thousands of acres who speak hundreds of different dialects that celebrate dozens of festivals each year! Our culture is a homogeneous mix of evolution and invasion- one which is obviously reflected in our food habits. the centuries, amidst unforgivingly cold Himalayas and scorching hot Thar desert, human life shook hands with these harsh conditions and thrived off of available resources. And ever since, our food palates have been majorly dictated by the climatic and geographic conditions.

So, how do terrains shape our diet? Let us answer this by taking you on this epicurean journey of highs and lows- from the Northern hilly areas of Ladakh to the colorful coastline of Goa through the western deserts of Rajasthan.

The jeweled crown of India, the ultimate tourist destination and our country’s own Switzerland- Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh have their cuisine as varied as their scenic landscape. Ladakh, being at a greater altitude than J&K, is quite influenced by Tibetan cuisine. Since vegetation is scarce and winters can be exceptionally harsh, Laddakhi people rely heavily on Yak and goat meat and dairy products. Although not spicy, their food is hot from the ginger, cloves and chillies used in broths. One of their staple food, Thukpa, is a noodle soup with seasonal vegetables, meat and lentils. Another porridge like dish Tsampa is made from mixing barley flour and salty tea.






As we descend towards a denser civilization in J&K, the food becomes more colorful and spicy. Here, too, people rely immensely on meat; and rice is their staple food. The vast variety of flavors comes from the cultivation of spices in J&K. A few of the famous dishes include Yakhni Pulao, a rice dish flavored with whole spices and yogurt-based mutton gravy, and our beloved Rogan Josh.

Amongst the sea of Kashmiri dishes, one which stands out the most is Wazwan. It is a rice-based meal eaten with ample varieties of meat preparations, again laden with spices. Heaps of rice is served with many types of kebabs, Rogan Josh and other gravies. A traditional Wazwan meal can have up to 36 courses! This meal is generally eaten in a group of four during social functions and festivals.

Wazwan meal in our bucket list- added!

As the terrain gets flatter towards the west, the food becomes spicier and heavier. Delhi, Punjab and Haryana use large quantities of butter and cream to flavor their food. Along with this, the spice quotient also increases.

Whether its Chandani Chowk ke Chole Bhature or Makke-di-Roti Sarso-da-Saag, the flavors are unmatched. Culinary practice of each state reflect its biodiversity- Punjab and Haryana being the top cultivators of cereals like wheat, Jowar and Bajra- their staple diet consists of chapattis and they seldom eat rice. further west in the desert of Rajasthan, one can find a magnificent saturation of spices. Once ruled by the mighty prideful Rajputs, their food still reflects the same pride and hospitality. Whether it is the delicious trio of Daal Baati Churma or the sugar-laden Ghevar, you are sure to get a taste of the much talked of Rajput grandeur with every Rajasthani spread. Don’t get fooled though, one of the spiciest curries in India- Laal Maans also comes from the land of Rajputs. Spicy hot curry in blazing hot summers; seems counterintuitive, right?

Actually, it is basic anatomy and science. Centuries ago when there were no refrigerators, food in hot climate would go bad quickly. So to preserve it for longer duration, women would add lots of spices since they have antimicrobial qualities. This pattern continued, and people developed a taste for ‘masaledaar khaana’! Now, when eating spicy food in summer, metabolism kicks our body temperature up a notch, which causes profuse sweat dispersion, which in turn cools our body faster.

A classic example of killing two birds with one stone!

www.nativchefs.comThe contrasting flavors of Gujarat and Maharashtra, further down west in our map, lay the foundation of two harmoniously coexisting neighbors. While on one hand, we have the fiery spicy Misal Pav, we have the sweet but standout flavors of Khaman Dhokla and Kadhi on the other. While we relish the coconut prawns curry from Malvan, we have grown to love the sweet and tangy flavors of Gujarati Dabeli Dhokla.


But the age-old question still stands- why is Gujarati food sweet? Well, owing to its geographical conditions, potable water in Gujarat is heavily salted. So women put in a pinch of sugar or jaggery to balance out the saltiness, which also infused in a new flavor.

As we come to the final leg of this gastronomic journey, we can safely say that we preserved the best for the last. Anybody who has been to Goa has instantly fallen in love with its scenic beauty, vintage Portuguese architecture and lip-smacking Goan curry. Famous for its explosively spicy Vindaloo and Xacuti curries, Goan food is a beautiful baby of Indian and Portuguese flavors.

www.nativchefs.comBeing in close proximity to the sea, you will find a lot of seafood dishes clubbed with rice. Also, there is a hefty use of coconut, kokum, red Goan chillies and cashews their curries which gives it the quintessential Goan flavor. Best example being the Fish curry rice or Xitt Coddi in Konkani. It’s a simple dish that beautifully pairs chillies with kokum, served with steamed rice.


All said and done, we want you to be the judge of this array of cuisines. Be a part of our buffet spread from these regions at the Indian Treasures 2.0, right here, in the heart of our city!


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Guru Nanak Jayanti – A lesson in humanity

Guru Nanak Jayanti – A lesson in humanity

“Ik Onkar Satnam Karta Purakh..”One singularity. One truth. There is only one creator- One God- who has created everything...

www.nativchefs.comThese are the opening lines of ‘Mool Mantra’, an important composition of the Sikh religious scripture, Guru Granth Sahib. These soothing lines can be heard from the Gurudwaras on Guru Nanak Jayanti which celebrates the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. Born on full moon day of Karthik month of Hindu calendar, he was the first Sikh Guru and the establisher of Sikhism.


www.nativchefs.comGuru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated with fervent zeal and enthusiastically amongst Sikh community, mainly in the northern states of India. Throughout the day, the priests read Guru Granth Sahib from start to end without a break. Local Gurudwaras also organize various functions, Kirtans (singing religious hymns) and serve Langars (community meals) to mark this holy day. People from all walks of life and all religions can have food from these communal kitchens which are operational throughout the year. Guru Nanak was a staunch propagator of oneness and equality- he abhorred the four caste system labeled by Hinduism. The idea of Langar, too serves this ideology of all men sitting together and eating the same food.

There are some interesting fables from his life that string praises of Guru Nanak’s kindness. Once, along with his two friends Bala and Mardana, he was walking through a village where a Brahmin man was preparing food. Those days Brahmins were considered as the most superior and purest Hindus. They would only eat food made from purest of ingredients, cooked on fire that would purify it further.

The Brahmin man, too, took lots of efforts to prepare his food. He purified mud for the oven, took bath in holy waters of Ganga and wore fresh clothes. He was finally offering prayers before eating when he heard Mardana say, “I, as a Muslim, know that Guru Nanak is the true messenger of Allah. Ik Onkar Sat Nam Karta Purakh..”. As they came closer, Mardana’s shadow fell on the Brahmin’s food!

The Brahmin got so angry that he started hurling abuses at Mardana, calling him all sorts of names. He even chased him with a broomstick. After all, he had tainted a Brahmin’s meal! Naturally, Mardana ran straight to Guru Nanak who was watching the drama unfold. In a very calm voice, Guruji said to the man, “You made a pure oven… and put a circle of purity around it. You put in pure ingredients and then you put it in the purifying fire. Then you were planning on putting that most, most pure food…

“…into your dirty mouth…”

Hearing this, the Brahmin suddenly realized his mistake and fell to his knees. He apologized profusely and Guru Nanak departed with a few words of wisdom.

“Every mouth eats food. But what is the use of a mouth that can’t speak words of love? We are all one. Created by one.”

This ideology is the backbone of Sikh religion. The Langar in their Gurudwaras serve food to everyone without discriminating based on race, religion or caste. Every day, families volunteer for Sewa in the kitchen. Women prepare food, while the men and children help in serving it. The kitchen is run solely on volunteers and no caterers are allowed. This is highly impressive also because the kitchen is functional all year round, serving piping hot vegetarian food twice a day.

www.nativchefs.comEating Langar is an experience in itself. Simple Dal cooked overnight, lightly tempered with spices, fresh seasonal vegetables and piping hot Chapattis. A special sweet called Kada Prasad is the quintessential sweet offered to everyone at Gurudwara and Langar. It is made by slowly roasting whole wheat flour in a vessel full of ghee, then finishing it with sugar syrup and nut shavings.

While everybody celebrates Guru Nanak Jayanti, here are some other Punjabi dishes that can satisfy your cravings!

Overnight soaked kidney beans tempered with whole spices and cooked in tomato gravy, this dish is the penultimate comfort food for all North Indians. Nothing beats the combination of soft mushy flavourful beans and fragrant rice!

www.nativchefs.comA thick curd based preparation with besan fritters, nothing speaks of North India as Kadhi Pakoda. This dish is finished off with a light tempering of curry leaves and mustard seeds. The only thing better than Rajma Chawal is Kadhi Chawal!

This dish can be found in every nook and corner eatery in North India. It is quite a filling dish, made from kidney beans and black gram cooked in tomato and cream-based gravy.

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Fusion food- the worst of both worlds.

You remember that scene from the movie Ra.One where Shahrukh Khan mixes yogurt with Chinese noodles? Or the one in movie Chef where Saif Ali Khan makes his ‘Roshan Kalra Invention’ Rotzza? Yeah, we all laughed at SRK then and Chef was a major flop at the box office. But didn’t you cringe at that too? If yes, then please aboard the fusion-dissent train, where today we will be talking about what exactly is wrong with fusion food! Not ‘pan-Asian’ or ‘chef-inspired’ dishes, but results of mindless mix-and-match recipes. Yes, you are welcome!

Fusion Food

India is a land of diversity, a beautiful giant concoction of cultures that bring their own vast palate of flavors. From the mild creamy Butter Chicken in the Northern Indian states to the spicy Saoji in the west to the fiery Chettinad Curry in South – we have it all. Ours is a society where recipes change from door to door, proportions change from chef to chef. We even boldly tweak our grandmother’s recipes from time to time adjusting to our taste buds- which is certainly acceptable, if not encouraged.

Over the years, as our restaurants have flooded with western menus, we too have tweaked our dishes to inculcate their flavors. We mixed our good Vadapav with Szechuan sauce and spread Tandoori Chicken over pizza bread with cheese. We even fused Gulab Jamun with cheesecakes. And as a result- we got something that nobody ever asked for. We got weirdly tangy Szechuan Vadapav, Naanzzas, Chamosas, Tandoori Chicken Sushi and even Jeera Masala Coke.

Keema Samosa :

www.nativchefs.comBut don’t get us wrong, we are not the protestors of western cuisine or unorthodoxly opposed to experimentation. We will happily devour Indian food with variations. Like the Sambar which was originally spicy, could be milder if made in a Gujrati kitchen. Or Kolhapuri Mix Veg curry could probably have hints of coconut if made in Iyyenger aunty’s kitchen. But what we will not have is some Alfredo sauce penne pasta infused with butter chicken. It just sounds wrong, and don’t even get us started on its smell- it is confusing! We don’t want cheese, jalapenos or even noodles in our samosas, neither do we want Baingan ka Bharta on our Bruschetta! Kindly leave our Samosas and their Bruschetta alone. After a certain point, fusion dishes seem not appetizing but an unfortunate blend of exotic-ingredients-thrown-together.

As connoisseurs of authentic traditional food, we deem these dishes blasphemous. And here’s the reason why- our food practices and its flavors reflect on our cultural upbringing. Whereas fusion food questions exactly that. We heavily associate food with memories, happy times and home. But when we eat Chicken Tikka Masala infused with baked beans, it doesn’t evoke any feelings. The nostalgia of when we first had it is lost! Or when we had Birizza (a cross between biryani and pizza), it didn’t remind us of the one we had on Eid when you were little. It is just some confusion again. Food is not supposed to do that- it is meant to make you feel happy.

Chicken Tikka Masala with Lachcha Paratha

www.nativchefs.comNot just the Indian palate, fusion food is an embarrassment to western cuisines as well. Every dish from a foreign land has a tale to tell- about their culture, habitat, lifestyle, and principles. For instance, the Chinese believe in harmony and balance in nature- Feng Shui and Yin Yang being the most common examples. This is also reflected in their food habits quite well- in a bowl of boiled noodles. This bowl is teamed with some mild chicken broth and a very spicy sauce made from Szechuan chillies, ginger and garlic. This pairing restores the balance of flavours, thus adhering to their principles. But when Indians omitted the broth and added various sauces to stir-fried vegetables and tossed in noodles, no self-respecting Chinese would call it a ‘fusion’, however crafty it may seem.

We strongly believe that traditional recipes should be a part of family legacies at every household for future generations to come by. We also believe that no child should grow up without tasting Dadi ki Tadke wali Dal or Nani ki chicken Biryani. We must protect our dishes from getting tainted and pass it on to our children as a small potion of love! Untill then, we shall keep our Kasuri Methi safe and let ‘inspired’ chefs keep their oregano. After all, Rotzza only tasted good to his son because Saif Ali Khan himself serves that.


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A mom, a chef and an entrepreneur who made it happen

Stories nourish the mind. There are stories that captivate you and there are stories that completely engulf you in their realm and leave a permanent impact on your heart. One such is the story of Chitra Soni, a woman who dared to dream and created a pathway of success for herself and thousands of others who follow her. Here’s an excerpt of our conversation with her.

When I joined hotel management college in 1970, the course was recently introduced in the country and was not that popular among women. Thus I was one of the 5 girls in the class of 100, but I discovered my passion for cooking and enjoyed every bit of it. After the graduation I was placed at ‘The Taj Group’ Mumbai and my joy had no bounds. I was living my fairy-tale, but then unexpectedly due to my father’s transfer we had to shift. I had to leave my promising job, dreams and fairytale back in Mumbai and move to this new city which did not even have a single big hotel, Nagpur.

This transformation hit me really hard and I was exhausted mentally. I had qualifications, experience but no opportunity to showcase my talent. Some months passed by and there was an opening for the post of lecturer in LED college which had introduced HMC recently, I went to the interview and to my surprise I was the only candidate present there who had relevant qualifications! But this journey carved my future as I discovered if there was something I loved more than cooking it was teaching how to cook!

Things were going smoothly, I also met the man of my dreams and we decided to marry, but after marriage, I had to resign from my job due to family commitments. I was clueless once again. One fine day my father in law asked me ‘What are you doing these days?’ to which I retorted ‘Nothing much’. He asked ‘Why don’t you start doing something from the house itself?’ and I grabbed this opportunity as hard as I could and started my journey by opening the first cooking classes in Nagpur, ‘RUCHIRA’ in 1975. I just had 6 students for my first batch, and last year in 2018 when I decided to finally end my journey of Ruchira I had already trained 1,00,000+ students! The proudest moment for me was when I was called ‘Ruchira Aunty’. I was successful in creating a brand. It took hard work, consistency, and dedication from every moment of my life. Today when I look back I see a scholar, employee of a five star hotel, a teacher, a housewife, and an entrepreneur and most importantly a satisfied and happy human being who has lived her life to the fullest and if you think this is the end of my career, you are wrong. I have just begun my journey as an adviser. So all the women out there, there is nothing such as happy ending to your fairytale as you are your fairy who can write her own tales!”

Kudos to her journey as a loving mom, an exceptional chef, and a successful entrepreneur

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Garlic: The Wonder Herb

“Garlic is a complete pharmacopeia in itself.”

Happy Garlic Day to all our esteemed readers.Did you know that those small bulbs of garlic conceal a host of highly healing and medicinal properties? Garlic is one of the most ancient medicine that has heralded the dawn of medicine, not only in India but all over the world. Let us probe further and get to the bottom of the matter:


The Mesopotamians:

They ate garlic and drank it with wine as a tonic to ward off disease.

The Egyptians:

They  formulated ancient papyrus document called “Ebers Codex” written in 1550 BC which gives twenty two uses of garlic including treatment for heart problems, tumours, headaches, worms and bites.

Ancient Greek:

Here, garlic was given to athletes before Olympics, soldiers before battles as per Homers Odyssey published in 1000 bBC. Hippocrates, known as the “Father of Medicine” called it a wonder herb, recommending it for infections, wounds, cancer, leprosy and digestive problems. Dioscorides known as the “ Father of Pharmacy” ,prescribed it in Material Medica for snake bites, dog bites, toxic poisoning due to the sting of bees and scorpions. Roman gladiators chewed garlic before combats. Pling, the Elder called it as an antidote for any type of poisoning.

Chinese medicine:

It is the most developed herbal medicine in the world. It consists of classic formulas more than hundreds of thousands years old. Garlic called “da suan” in the Chinese jargon, has a special mention in “Collection of Commentaires on the Classic of Material Medica” published in 500 AD and “Vegetables as Medicine”. Here, it is prescribed for common cold, whooping cough, dysentery and boils.


According to this school of medicine, garlic effects each of the constitutional types, namely Pitta, Vata and Kalpha. It increases the fiery nature of Pitta, spacy, spasmodic  and airy nature of Vata,cleans mucous and opens up obstructed channels of Kalpha.

Unani Tibb:

It is the branch of medicine from the Muslim world. Hakim Ibn Sina is the father of this medicine and in Canon of Medicine published in 900 BC, garlic is recommended for intestinal problems, food poisoning, dysentery, asthma and whooping cough.

European Herbalism:

Garlic has been touted as the cradle of civilization and extensive research has been conducted on garlic in German Phytotherapy(Plant Medicine), spearheaded by Hildegard von Bingen. It is used in the preparation of “Four Thieves Vinegar” and “Galen’s wine” which are used as poultice for wounds and injuries during the medieval period.


These can be elucidated as follows:

Anti asthmatic: Eases constricted breathing.

Anti inflammatory and blood thinning properties.

Anti epileptic: Reduces severity of convulsions.

Antiseptic: Fights infections in digestive and respiratory tracts.

Antispasmodic: Combats cramping and pains.

Anthelmintic: Kills germs and intestinal worms.

Carminative: Expels gas

Diaphoretic: Promotes sweating and circulation.

Diuretic: Promotes urination.

Emmenagogue: Promotes menstruation.

Expectorant: Promotes flow of mucus.

Rubefacient: Fight skin irritation.

Tonic: Boosts immunity and overall health.


The following are the side effects that might result if the usage is not within the limits of  discretion :

  1. Bloating and gas.
  2. Feelings of heat
  3. Digestive irritation
  4. Heaviness in head
  5. Aggravation of pain
  6. Increase in urine(diuretic)
  7. Dull eyesight
  8. Headache
  9. Nausea
  10. Flushed face
  11. Garlic breath and excessive sweating.


Capsules and tablets, oils(steam distilled and macerated), chest rub and plaster, compress(hot and cold), cooked garlic, raw garlic, decoction, douche, enema, poultice, infusion in wine and vinegar, juice, nose drops, poultices and tinctures.

We can thus conclude that the appeal of garlic is universal and its versatility needs no further attestation. It displays the broadest spectrum of medicinal properties and is like a medicine chest all by itself. So don’t wait, grab this ambrosia right away!