I was watching the movie Kahani 2 last night ((no spoilers, so keep calm and read on!) It’s the much awaited next edition, not sequel, to one of the finest Bollywood thrillers of our times. A recurring dialogue in the movie revolved around ‘gut feeling’ and its importance. And although in this instance it related to instinct, I couldn’t help thinking about an interesting conversation recently with the bubbly and amazingly fit Deepti Dadlani (DeeDee) of Phoenix Group regarding the actual gut, our stomach.
We were sitting around a polished wooden table at 212 All Good Cafe, the soft gold lighting and the all-wood interiors making our end-of-the-day, traffic-weary faces look much more cheerful than we felt. The conversation was around the whole philosophy of healthy eating, the much-needed addition and popularity of health food cafes in the city like Sequel, Kitchen Garden and Bombay Salad Co., and the big ‘S’ word – Sustainability, both for the environment in terms of responsible sourcing, as well as for the cafes and their ability to extend the happy curve beyond the initial instagram-driven surge. Yes, I am all about double- meaning words today, aint I? ;)
And soon we were talking about the gut, and how it’s one of the most tortured parts of our body. It’s true when you really think about it. We are good friends with our taste buds, always pampering them. We take extremely good care of our outside appearance in terms of skin and hair. But when it comes to our gut, we kind of take it for granted, expecting it to do its work unfailingly, uncomplainingly, and when it bulges out from under a dress or over the denim belt in protest, we subject it to even more stress by not eating!
So what IS healthy eating really?
Is it about replacing all your grains, vegies, eggs and dairy with organic options? Even if you can afford to, and they are REALLY certified organic, no. Is it about switching to vegetarian/vegan food only? Not if you are a non-vegetarian and have grown up eating meat and dairy protein all your life. Is it about cutting out carbs completely from your diet? No, and I have it on good authority that it does NOT help beyond a certain point. The list goes on and on with the ‘No’ diets – no sugar, no salt, no oil, no chocolate, no food, no air… You get the drift!
The trick is actually tricky. Because there IS no ‘one size fits all’ program that will make you lose weight, shape you up, keep you healthy from inside out and make you look and feel good every day. The trick is to pick out those few good things from all the above that work best for your work-life balance, your lifestyle and the most important thing, your soul.
And I was pleasantly surprised to see that the team at 212 All Good Cafe, right from owner Romil Ratra to always-happy Chef Paul Kinny to dynamic DeeDee to our well-informed and smiling server Joss, believes in my philosophy of not depriving oneself of the things one loves to eat, but making small health-forward adjustments, and opting for better gut-friendly options that make you feel less guilty at the end of a meal.
And that was evident in almost everything we tried at the table, from the super-fresh crunchy French Bean and Edamame Salad, to the next-level up from your Mom-made sprouts bowl – the beautifully ‘chatpata’ Adzuki Bean Salad, to the pretty-pink Beet Hummous Toasties to the light n leafy Pulled Pork Salad to the lovely country-style Chicken Roast to the simple classic Grilled Trout with Mashed Peas. Even the cocktails like Hibiscus Gin and Tonic, Aperol Spritz and a cleverly-crafted Penicillin that definitely belongs in the city’s Hall of Fame Cocktails were made with house-made cola, tonic, fresh-squeezed fruits! Some things that are endearing here are the dehydrated tomatoes (I finished a whole bowl of these with sea salt and olive oil!), the Jowar taco shells, the Buckwheat Spaghetti and the house-infused Gins. And although I liked the idea of using Tender Coconut in the Pad Thai and Jaggery in the Pumpkin Pie, it just didn’t work for me.
But honestly the menu has so many good, clean, guilt-free, re-imagined options of otherwise spicy, rich and palate-killer dishes, that I would definitely want to go back and try more, especially the very tempting breakfast fare… In fact, I have a gut feeling that it will be soon… One No-Egg Omelette for me please! :)