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Rustling up magic in pots, pans and utensils

A culture aficionado, a lover of good food and someone who is at the heart of Delhi’s best parties, NANDISHI SHRIRAM catches up with SHREYAA SHAH, an incredible chef and successful caterer to couturier dos, art shows and intimate dinners.

Shreyaa Shah

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Cooking is a therapeutic art, and Shreyaa Shah knows that well. Petite, pretty and a great cook too, she is an interesting mix of Garhwali and Nepali roots. A masterchef, trained in the world-famous Cordon Bleu School, Thailand, Shreyaa rustles up magic in the nether world of pots, pans and utensils: the kitchen.

Always keeping good food and good health together. It was at 20 that Shreyaa, a fitness trainer, learnt that while people were onto fitness, they knew little about healthy cooking. She decided to change that, and Voila! Shreyaa’s Kitchen was born. Delhi was caught in the Shah storm and there she was, cooking up pan-Asian, European and American food, catering on order for Delhi’s well-heeled circles.

She innovated by introducing light-palatable food, easy on the gut and low on calorific value. Good food is at the heart of her business and Shreyaa shares her culinary secrets, giving cooking classes to an eclectic mix of people. She also trains household, domestic staff on cooking international-style cuisine. Catering stays on the forefront of her daily life.

Q. What exactly is healthy cooking?

A. For me, healthy eating is most important. I prefer to cook with rice bran oil, in very minimal quantities, using fresh organic produce, mainly more greens, yellows and reds. I avoid gluten as it adds to belly fat. It’s all about how good the food tastes, obliterating the level of toxins: extra fat, refined sugar, etc. Fruits, raw vegetables, fresh salads are great for digestion and the gut. My mojo is: Think healthy, think wise.

Q. Are people aware of the finer nuances of gourmet food?

A. I would say yes. If you are a frequent traveller to the Western shores, then you know your wines, and know the courses. The jet setter is highly tuned into etiquettes of the table, living room and more, as the exposure to the West is high. Though, inside our homes and within our real life we are still rooted very deep in Indian traditions. We live on our staple diet: daal, chaawal and one sabzi. That cannot be taken away from us.

Q. Do give us few interesting tips on creating a quick meal in these home-bound times.

A. My easy feast is mini-egg sandwiches, a warm potato salad, and avocado on toast, a hummus dip served with a minty cool ginger ale. Almost a picnic lunch! You just need few things at hand: Wholewheat peasant baguette, boiled eggs, boiled potatoes and mayo. To rustle up the sandwiches: Mash eggs; add a pinch of Dijon mustard, salt, parsley and a dash of butter. Cream the eggs, cut the bread in diagonal slices, butter the bread lightly, face up. Now paste the egg mixture and press another slice on.

Use hummus as a dip. We make really nice hummus, bottled and ready for home chefs. As a starter you could mince the pulp of two avocadoes, add a dash of salt, mix kalamata olives and cream on to bite sized mini toasts. For the potato salad: cut the potatoes into bite-sized chunks, drizzle warm olive oil, chop spring onions, mint leaves and toss up with a light squeeze of lemon. I will be imparting many ideas on my online, video tutorials. Stay tuned.

Q. Do you plan to open a restaurant?

A. I am happy with my home catering venture. With Shreyaa’s Kitchen, I have freedom to some extent.

Q. Will you be creating a Shreyaa’s Kitchen app?

A. Oh yes, I would love to. My sauces, dips are bottled and ready to go. I have a home menu for ordering take out.

Q. Shreyaa, which is your easy to cook recipe?

A. Red Thai Curry recipe made from my ready-to-cook paste. Another five-minute recipe. So here goes.

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