PROMOTING RAW: Brit Robert Phillips at Blossom Café in Little Vagator
TURMERIC SHERBET: Says Rob, “I went on a raw vegan diet for 11 months, and feel so full of energy!”
Eating is Fun / Eating is Yuck! – A variety food column
By Tara Narayan
Turmeric is the queen of all our spices and full of all kinds of healthy properties. The Western world discovered it in our curries and since then has appropriated it more or less as one of the best food anti-inflammatories along with many other good things. Imagine my surprise when at the See Change eco-friendly lifestyle retreat at Ashwem beach I met Briton Robert Phillips (at first I thought he looked a little spaced out), who with a wonderful smile offered me a fairly large paper cup of chilled turmeric, lemon and ginger juices, honey-sweetened sherbet. It was so good and thirst-quenching it left me craving for more that hot summer’s day.
Rob said he had used fresh turmeric root juice which produced the intoxicating golden colour of the sherbet. It’s a simple recipe. Fresh turmeric is usually a winter crop and one may see it at Panjim market, along with amba haldi or mango ginger which is creamy with a tart flavour. Usually in most Gujarati and Maharashtrian homes you’ll find this julienned combo of fresh yellow haldi and creamy amba haldi tossed in sea salt and lemon juice and served as a relish with meals – it makes a chapatti come alive. Some folk simply crush fresh turmeric as chutney pure and simple and eat it while in season.
So here’s the recipe for a fresh turmeric-lemon-honey sherbet: Grate some fresh turmeric and squeeze out the juice or churn it in a mixer with a little water and strain it, so you get a light concentrate. Add a teaspoon of this fresh juice into a glass, add the juice of a lemon, some ordinary ginger juice made the same way as the turmeric root concentrate, and sweeten with a tablespoon of honey for sweetness (no sugar please). Stir this “decoction” and top up with ice cubes and cooled boiled water. Stir well. Then sit somewhere pleasant and sip.
Drink twice a day and chances are you’ll glow and feel as fit as a fiddle. In the absence of fresh turmeric juice, you may use half or a teaspoon of dry turmeric powder but it won’t be the same. I wonder how Rob, as he is popularly known in Little Vagator where he has his Blossom outlet of health drinks and snacks, knew how to make a fresh turmeric, lemon juice, honey sherbet! I haven’t been to Blossom Café but will one of these days when I get someone to drive me there! He charged `100 for his rave sherbet but I guess he had taken pains to make and bottle it, stored in a cold case.
He was a friendly fellow though, and easy to take a shine to. He was all about how he turned into a ‘raw foodie’ in the quest for good health. Eleven months of drinking and eating only that which is au naturel – no cooking, perhaps just a little steaming on occasion. Folk in Western countries are doing it. It’s cheaper to survive on fresh fruit, salads, a range of nuts and milk like coconut milk sweetened with palm jaggery than to fall sick in a foreign land and give away all your money to a doctor for prescriptions of synthetic drugs you don’t know much about, when you don’t know what they will do to you in the short or long run.
One thing Rob said in his talk on being a raw vegetarian or vegan has stayed in my mind: “My teeth were rotten when I went on this raw food diet. The rot has stopped ever since I turned raw!” By now I’ve come across several testimonies like this one, and over the years I’ve come to believe in my heart of hearts that it is true that raw is best, if you can swing it as much as you can. It’s hard to do but that’s to do with how convinced you are and how much disciplined will power you have.
It always boils down to how cracked human beings are. We discovered fire and then the art of cooking. No other animal cooks their food. Cooking is bad enough, but now we’re engaged big time in the art of filling ourselves up with industrial junk food, or fixing our meals in varied ways with industrialised ingredients by way of frozen, canned, pickled, if not outright cooked packaged foods, like ready-made curries, sabzi, roti, and a plethora of baked, boiled, fatted up confectionary, etc if we can afford it. How spoilt we are for choice, provided we have money to burn, and more ignorance than common sense.
The way we eat, we get neither the fresh enzymes nor the vitamins we need to age gracefully. On top of that we’ve taken to leading sedentary lifestyles of cool comfort, unless you’re an old-fashioned housewife – cooking, sweeping, swabbing, doing the beds, ironing, etc. So boring! Do you even walk for half an hour daily? We are so busy with our social media relationships or imprisoned in our mobile phone relationships or engaged with our computer/laptop for hours on end. We are cracked up human beings and deserve to die, not live. And so we are dying in a myriad ways faster and faster up there where it matters and down there where it also matters!
TO stay with turmeric and raw food habits, I must reiterate here that there’s a lot going for it if you want to stay young forever. Try an experiment: Eat only raw food for three or six months and then go to check your red blood corpuscle count. Folk who eat raw most of the time have high RBC counts. Full of healthy vitality, Rob says he is sometimes so energised, he feels he could fly. That kind of energy drives him. He doesn’t know what to do with so much energy! I have reason to believe him. One must start eating more raw food from one’s younger years. A friend tells me in Europe, the UK and in health-conscious Los Angeles, “there are folk who’ll breakfast on fresh juices of fruit and veggies, lunch on fresh fruit, veggies and nut salads and dine on more of the same.“ It’s not boring at all. Much effort goes into the presentation: avocado butters, non-dairy milks and ice-creams, dehydrated breads made from soaked grains, and dishes prepared with the use of herbs and spices but not subjected to cooking heat at all in the sense that we understand cooking over a gas or wood fire chullah.
The raw cuisine movement has grown from strength to strength and more folk are switching over to 50 per cent, 60 per cent, 75 per cent natural diets. Over time, this is resulting in falling statistics on the heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and cancer fronts. The movement says eat raw first, but if you must eat cooked, then eat partially steamed or poached veggies, or eat red rice which has natural insulin in it. Refining natural rice to white washes away important vitamins. Since we can’t eat rice kaccha we may soak and cook it slowly – steam it in water.
Not only do we refine our primary food industrially, we also do a lot of horrible things to natural food to make it “edible” as we have been taught from childhood. Personally, I would say, if you can do it, start boycotting industrial foods in favour of local organic veggies, grains, and fruits. Boycott industrial foods first, then cooked food, then refined. Or at least learn the value of eating more raw than cooked! I’m giving myself this advice too if I want to get back to my 55 kg teenage weight.
THESE days I’m dreaming of a breakfast of chilled fresh turmeric-lemon juice-honey sherbet, failing which honeyed almond milk; followed by a bowl of plain cut fruit – golden gooseberries in demure sheaths are in season; then for lunch, purple black/red Korgut rice soaked overnight and steamed, served with freshly grated coconut choon sweetened with dark palm jaggery, a salad of broccoli dunked in hot water and drained almost immediately, lightly tossed in sea salt, black pepper, lemon juice, wild honey; a bowl full of tender coconut malai for tea-time. (Eat more coconut – it’s full of wonderful lauric acid!) And for dinner? A bowl of fresh home-made curd with a handful of mixed nuts and berries. That’s it. Dinner at 7pm or before the sun sets, and afterwards a short walk down the lane where I live, before retiring to sweet dreams in bed by 9pm latest. More or less the same day after day after day. No cooking. Wow, no cooking? I dare not even suggest it to the hubby.