Baking A Vegan Business From Her Home

 Bonnie Gertrude of Pearfect Bond, bakes vegan delicacies from her home in Hyderabad, India

Bonnie Gertrude belongs to a new breed of baking entrepreneurs from Hyderabad, who are making a name for themselves right out of their homes. An aspiring entrepreneur for a long time, Bonnie found her calling when she turned Vegan two years ago. She was quick to realise that there are many Vegans in the city just like her and very few bakeries that cater to them. And, that’s what motivated Bonnie to quit her job and launch Pearfect Bond, in November 2020. Her’s is a brand that exclusively bakes vegan desserts.

Gertrude’s bakes however are not exclusively for vegans, she says. “My bottom line when I launched Pearfect Bond was also to have non-vegans satisfy their sweet tooth, without compromising on the taste. Over the months, I’ve had a few of my non-vegan customers tell me how my bakes taste just like the real thing and that the difference is unnoticeable.”

Gourmet range


Pearfect Bond offers diverse options to its customers such as cookies, donuts, cupcakes, cakes, brownies, and blondies. She bakes these delicacies using nut flours, refined wheat flour and oat flour among others. Bonnie is a self-taught baker and has been a baking enthusiast since her childhood. She says her continuous practice is helping her perfect the technique and make her customers fall in love with the bakes. Her most sold products are donuts and cupcakes. Her bakes are for both the health-conscious and those who love to indulge in desserts carefree, she adds.

The right decision

Less than a year since its launch Pearfect Bond has received an incredible response, says Gertrude. “Having seen people around say no to veganism, I was initially a little afraid of how everyone would receive the brand. But my drive to serve the increasing vegan community across the city made me take the plunge. The response, however, has been extremely heartwarming and today I feel proud of my decision,” says Gertrude.

Brand reach 

Bonnie operates her bakery from the comfort of her home at Kondapur, Hyderabad. She uses social media platforms for promoting her brand and selling her products. You can order her delicious products across Hyderabad by reaching out to her on her Instagram handle @pearfectbond or through her Facebook page Pearfect Bond. “People usually drop by to pick up the orders, but I also deliver across the city with the help of delivery partners. Moreover, my products are also available at the Plantarium store and online on Alt Mart,” says Bonnie. Taking things slow owing to the pandemic, Bonnie looks at expanding Pearfect Bond to a bigger brand in the future.

Mixed-Nut Butter Cookie recipe from Bonnie’s Oven

Bonnie says her nut butter cookies are loved by all and encourages Handi Talks readers to give this simple recipe a try at home.

  • Refined wheat flour – 1 cup
  • Oats flour – 1 cup
  • Brown sugar – 1 1/4 cup
  • Flax seeds powder + water – 2 tbsp + 3 tbsp
  • Coconut oil – 1/2 cup
  • For nut butter
  • Almonds- 1/4 cup
  • Peanuts – 1/4 cup
  • Hazelnuts – 1/4 cup
  1. To prepare the mixed-nut butter, blend almonds, peanuts & hazelnuts in a food processor until they release oil and achieve a buttery consistency.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160 °C.
  3. In a bowl add refined flour, oats flour, brown sugar, flax seeds powder and coconut oil. Mix all the ingredients along with mixed-nut butter making sure no lumps are formed.
  4. Line the baking tray with parchment paper.
  5. Scoop the cookie dough onto parchment paper and flatten it a bit.
  6. Making your desired shapes, bake the cookies for 10 mins.
  7. Now, remove the cookies from the tray and place them on a cooling rack.
  8. Once cooled, enjoy with your favorite beverage.

ChaiVeda: Prerna’s Link To Her Roots

Prerna Kumar uses the knowledge and experience of living the ayurvedic way of life to create her brand of Indian artisanal tea – ‘ChaiVeda’  

Prerna Kumar’s beginnings are quite unprecedented and phenomenal as she continues to push boundaries and evolves with time. Starting off as a corporate employee to being inspired by her grandmother’s ayurvedic Chai Masala, she is the pioneer of what she calls as ChaiVeda. Today her brand is making waves in the Indian artisanal chai space. Inspired by her grandmother’s ayurvedic way of life, Prerna uses the knowledge both while preparing the tea blends and making masalas.

When life gives lemons

Prerna grew up in Haryana and shifted to New Delhi post-marriage and began to work in the corporate industry. A little over two decades went by working, tending to her family, and looking after the house when suddenly in 2017 she lost her job. To top it, she also broke her ankle, thus bringing her life to a standstill. Mandatory to rest for three months she was stuck at home. But, she would constantly have visitors drop by and tell her to get well soon. But, that wasn’t all they said. “Everybody would wish me a speedy recovery, so I could get on my feet and make them my famous chai. My chai was something everyone would commonly mention,” she says. Although it felt unusual at the time, she later began thinking and realised that it was the masala she uses in her chai that attracts people to it.

Prerna had learnt the chai masala from her grandmother who was a great ayurvedic practitioner back in her village Bhiwani in Haryana. After recovering from injury, Prerna, now on search for newer avenues to work, kept coming back to the appreciation for her chai. She realised that she could start her own venture making artisanal chai blends. So she packed her bags and left for a trip to Darjeeling to understand more about tea while undergoing a training session there. And thus began her second innings. ChaiVeda started by her in 2017, is today, an upcoming homemade tea brand. The venture employs only the needy, doesn’t use single use plastic in any of its packaging and strives to be an eco-friendly brand with its sustainable practices.

The many Chai Blends

Kumar’s ayurvedic roots fully reflect in ChaiVeda’s product line. Starting with the celebrated Vedic Chai Masala, she offers close to 25 products as part of three categories namely Masala Chai, Everyday Wellness and Essentially Vedic. “The Vedic Chai Masala is our specialty product. Many customers love it and it is also our bestseller. The masala is a combination of fourteen herbs, spices, and flowers, a combination my Dadi (grandmother) designed ages ago. It aids digestion and boosts one’s respiratory system. One can consume it by adding it to either milk, tea or water.,” says Prerna.

Her masala chai range she says, is for the Indians looking to add some flavour to their cuppa along with some health. Some of the blends in this range include Saffron Mulethi, Saunf Elaichi, and Gulab Mulethi among others. Everyday Wellness on the other hand is a range of green tea blends infused with spices and flowers such as cinnamon, rose, jasmine and ginger. The third range, Essentially Vedic comprises blends made using various Indian Masalas. This category includes teas that aid in weight loss and blends suitable during and post-pregnancy.

In addition to these, Kumar also specialises in customising tea blends for her clientele. She also offers unique masalas during festivals, such as the Wine Masala during Christmas. Another offering by ChaiVeda that attracts consumers is their gift hampers that are apt for corporate gifting, festivals and various other events.

The One Woman Army

Prerna runs the venture single-handedly from her home. She prepares all the chai masalas and tea blends in a room dedicated to her venture. Additionally, she takes care of the website, orders, packaging and marketing for ChaiVeda all by herself. However, at times when ChaiVeda bags big orders, Prerna employs a few underprivileged women. They help her grind the spices and make the blends.


Kumar makes all the tea blends fresh in small batches so that the aroma remains intact. She sources the ingredients for her masalas and blends from across the country. The spices she uses in the Vedic Chai Masala for instance come directly from the spice gardens in Kerala. Both black and green tea leaves also come directly from the tea gardens so the farmers don’t lose money via middlemen.

What’s next?

Prerna has come a long way in the last four years by breaking many stereotypes. She aims to continue being a sustainable brand going forward. The brand is slowly gaining traction overseas and also seeing its customer base expand. Hence, ChaiVeda is looking at growing in terms of the team in the coming months.

ChaiVeda’s products are available for purchase on its website. You can also reach out to her on Facebook and Instagram.

Vegan Recipe Cookbooks – 2021

Every Vegan has a story...and that includes these cook book authors -

Omari McQueen’s Best Bites Cookbook

Omari McQueen at the age of twelve is the youngest vegan chef in the UK, YouTuber, youngest restauranter in the world, cooking show host and child entrepreneur. When Omari was seven years old, his mother would suffer from body paralysing migraines. As she was unable to cook and his father was out for work, Omari began helping his elder brother prepare meals for the family. Soon, he turned vegan after reading how a vegan diet could help his mother and began making the same for her.

vegan books

In January this year, he published a vegan cookbook. The book begins with a small intro by Omari followed by what it means to be a vegan, some tips on becoming one and the ingredients he uses for cooking. The family has Jamaican roots hence some recipes have a taste of the Caribbean. With more than 35 mouthwatering vegan recipes starting with morning breakfast, lunch, snacks and after-meal desserts, the cookbook is a good starting point for kids like Omari who take interest in cooking plant-based recipes.

The Vegan Iraqi Cookbook by Lamees Ibrahim
Lamees Ibrahim is an Iraqi who came to London from Baghdad to study pathology in the 1970s. Owing to Iraq’s unstable situation she couldn’t visit her motherland till the year 2004. And when she did, to her dismay, she found that the country was no longer what she knew it to be. She penned her first book based on her memories. The Iraqi Cookbook was published in the year 2009.

More than a decade later Ibrahim is back with yet another book, The Vegan Iraqi

Cookbook. It was published in February 2021. The book brings you a

rich blend of Mesopotamian history, culture and cuisine coupled with Ibrahim’s beautiful storytelling and food photos. It has around 132 plant-based recipes to try from the middle-eastern part of the world. Some traditional and some modern with a unique touch. Although the world perceives Iraqi food to be meat-based Lamees says that there are many vegan recipes that the land makes.

Hot for food all-day: Easy Recipes to Level Up Your Vegan Meals by Lauren Toyota

The former television host Lauren Toyota is today a Famous YouTuber and a known name in the vegan culinary world. After having authored two vegan cookbooks in the past, Lauren is back with a new cookbook this year.

Explained in a lucid manner her recipes are presented with beautiful images of the final dish. With many options for each meal of the day the 265 pages book comes with more than 100 delicious recipes that can also be made by non-vegans.

indian cooking

The Guru of Chefs exalts indigenous Indian cuisines and ingredients

Nothing can Weigh Up to the Unique Experience, Wide Range of Indigenous Ingredients of Indian Cuisine: Chef Thirugnanasambantham, Principal, Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration (WGSHA)

Indian food has always felt like home even to non-Indians. A simple dish can feel like royalty. Tourists flock to India not just for its magnificent sights but also to savour our food. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) stated that India has the potential to become the world’s number one tourist destination more so from the hotel business. The Indian tourism and hospitality industry is a key promoter for the growth of the service sector in India.

In conversation with CSP, Chef Thirugnanasambantham, Principal, Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration (WGSHA) spoke to us about his journey in the industry, the significance of Indian cooking and his vision of a leading hospitality sector.

How did your interest develop in cooking? Can you tell us a memorable stint of yours that has had a deep impact in your career?

I never had an intention of doing Hotel Management, and initially wanted to pursue biochemistry but missed the cut off by 2 points. So, I went for BSc. in Nutrition, food service management and dietetics, as nutrition was the upcoming course at that time. During my degree, we had to undergo two internships. The first one was a clinical internship in a hospital where we had to meet patients and prescribe suitable diets for diseases. The second internship was in a hotel, and I found it extremely interesting. It was very lively and engaging, and that is when my inclination shifted towards the hospitality industry. After the completion of my degree, I did not continue my master’s in clinical nutrition and instead, went to IHM Chennai for MSc. in Hotel Management. I started my career as an HOT with the Taj Group of Hotels and was in the pre-opening team for their upcoming restaurant, The Patio. It was the finest restaurant in South India where lunch and dinner were served in two different concepts. For lunch, we served contemporary French cuisine and the dinner was classical European cuisine. We had a lot of imported items on the menu including foie gras, T-bone steak, ribeye steak, porterhouse steak, caviar, and truffles, which none of the other hotels were serving at the time. There were no cooks in that restaurant, only chef de parties, senior chef de parties and sous chefs. I got the opportunity to train under renowned chefs like Chef Anton Mosimann and Chef Jean Michel and got to work with exotic ingredients. Working in that restaurant was a great opportunity for me and it created a passion to continue in this profession.

Indian cooking has travelled the globe and we now see multiple restaurants around the world. Is there anything in particular the world is missing out on in terms of Indian cuisine?

I have travelled across 10 countries and have realized that the concept of Indian food around the world is extremely standardized with a few signature dishes like butter chicken or dal makhni that people generally relate with our cuisine. We are gradually shifting from the traditional platter-to-plate style, towards plated service. A few Chefs including Chef Hari Nayak at Jhol and Chef Manish Mehrotra at Indian Accent are serving contemporary Indian cuisine in their restaurants with unique plating and presentation styles. They have increased the popularity of Indian food on the global map, but there are still a few things including the availability of indigenous ingredients from different geographical locations throughout the country, that cannot be achieved. India is a vast country with a large assortment of ingredients from different regions and sub-regions, and even though a lot of food items are now being exported to other countries, there are still many challenges that are being faced. Nothing can weigh up to the unique experience and wide range of indigenous ingredients that Indian cuisine has to offer.

How is the to-be introduced course in Indian cooking at WGSHA going to benefit students? Why is it necessary in your view to have this course? Do you think Indians require it too?

The global demand for Indian Chefs is increasing as the cuisine is gaining popularity. Many young chefs are bringing in innovative ideas, which coupled with their creativity is helping in transforming Indian cuisine. There is a huge potential for Indian food which requires trained professionals who have exclusive knowledge and skill set to meet the current demand. The unique feature of this course is the introduction of block syllabus which is not practiced in a lot of culinary and hospitality management colleges. Students will have a maximum of 4-5 blocks each term that will be delivered on a daily basis. The purpose is to give a constant input and complete each block within 20-25 days, wherein students will completely understand each and every product and learn to make commercialized products from scratch. There are a lot of other things they will learn besides cooking.  They will acquire knowledge about various ingredients as well as the different cooking techniques that have been developed by our ancestors. We will also be concentrating on contemporary Indian cooking so that our students learn to innovate and give a twist to Indian food along with presentation skills. It will really benefit the students and they will be qualified to take up professions in various streams like entrepreneurship, hotels, restaurants, etc.

The culinary museum was a huge success and entered the Limca book of records. Can you tell us what the inspiration behind setting up this museum was? What does the museum hold and what has the attention been like?

I would like to thank our distinguished alumni, chef and author, Vikas Khanna for endorsing this museum. It was a great initiative to contribute to his alma mater and preserve our heritage and culture. Entering the Limca book of records was a surprise for Chef Vikas from the WGSHA family. We plan to collect more traditional equipment from different parts of the country and hopefully have a Guinness world record in the future. It is a continuous process and we are gradually adding more utensils along with collecting stories behind the traditional use of these equipment. We are still at a nascent stage and there is still a long way to go but we hope for the best.

How can we create more awareness to traditional Indian cookware that is also instrumental to the unique taste of Indian cuisine apart from the spices?

Due to globalization, men and women have started working more and have less time for cooking. Due to this, people have started purchasing modern cookware made of stainless steel and teflon that cut down the cooking time. Our ancestors used utensils that were scientifically tested to be suitable for different food items. Of late, people are not paying attention to these traditional equipment in the hope of cooking with less oil and fat. Teflon is said to contain a carcinogenic chemical which has adverse effects on the health, and people are gradually becoming aware of this. The change is coming back slowly and people are shifting back to the utensils used by our ancestors. At WGSHA, we use these traditional utensils made of copper and earthenware in our college to make sure the students are aware of their culture and their scientific benefits.

Ayurveda cooking is gaining attention recently. Have you thought of introducing a course along these lines?

The unique feature of this university is that we provide a multidisciplinary learning environment for our students, and we have a great research division. Manipal Academy of Higher Education has an Ayurveda division under it. WGSHA has already introduced Ayurveda as a subject into the current course curriculum and we plan to provide an exclusive certification program in the future wherein students can learn how cooking can be done using the ayurvedic concept.

How does the future look for those in the hospitality industry at least until tourism is back on track post-pandemic?

Many people have lost their jobs due to the COVID pandemic and the hospitality industry currently is not in a good shape, but a lot of restaurants and hotels have revived themselves and created a niche to meet the customer expectations. It has accelerated innovation among Chefs and the entire food industry has transformed with the help of digitalization. Food enthusiasts and people who do not have a hospitality background have also started food businesses all over the country. The industry has evolved during this pandemic and it will bounce back with a bigger impact. Customer dynamics and the way people prefer their food will change which will bring ample opportunities for young hospitality professionals. Even now, although people aren’t traveling that much, they are still eating out. Of course, the disposable income has reduced, but people are coming up with innovative ideas at moderate prices wherein they can capitalize the portion of disposable income in every family.

What is your vision for the hotel and hospitality department in India?

Our vision is to create more entrepreneurs in the coming years. We will become India’s first college to have a student run food truck and with the upcoming infrastructure, we will have a commercial restaurant and pastry shop that will operate on a regular basis by the students themselves. We are collaborating with the leading hospitality schools all over the world for our faculty - student exchange programs and will be curating under graduate and post graduate courses to create employment opportunities globally. Our aim is to put WGSHA in Asia’s best hospitality and culinary schools and achieve a world ranking. In the next 5 years, we plan to be in the top hospitality schools in the world, sustaining in our  national current ranking.

How do you envision the hospitality industry in India in the years to come?

Post pandemic, the hospitality industry is going to be in a different phase of business due to the change in customer dynamics and shift in terms of the business process. There will be a transformation in the kind of food, accommodation, and overall travel experience that the customers desire. Hotels will keep a separate budget for maintaining sanitation and cleanliness in all aspects. They will get certifications from international bodies to vouch for the hygiene and quality standards of their properties. Room spaces are already under transformation and their layouts are made by keeping the safety aspects in mind to help curb the pandemic. UV-C technologies are being used in hotels to disinfect and stop the spread of COVID. Hotels are reimagining the ways to sanitize and maintain hygiene standards by introducing touchless points, which will soon be implemented in even the smaller hotels to gain customer confidence. The luxury segment will have a different way to promote and market their hotels. People are now traveling to local inter-district tourist destinations, due to the travel restrictions being imposed by the government and have started exploring nature and wildlife to avoid going to crowded places. This will be the biggest selling point in the near future as the new age travelers are choosing homestays amidst nature, keeping sustainable tourism in mind. Many luxury brands have come up with recreational stays like the Ama Stays & Trails by IHCL, Storii by ITC, the Postcard Hotels, etc., creating a niche for smaller crowds. The hospitality industry will see a major transformation post pandemic and will bounce back with a greater impact.


For the Love of Agriculture. the Organic Way

At a time when people are running around a secure career, two brothers Satyajit and Ajinkya Hange left that life behind and pursued their passion for farming. Today with their venture Two Brothers Organic Farm, they have become an inspiration to many like them


Frank Tyger once said, “When you like your work, every day is a holiday.” And, Satyajit Hange of Two Brothers Organic Farm couldn’t agree more. He has been pursuing farming since 2014, something he is insanely passionate about, and says that even without a single holiday to date, he feels like he’s on a continuous vacation. His is a story of inspiration, a story of a successful career transformation. And, here’s how it goes.

The Origin

Satyajit and his brother Ajinkya both belong to an agricultural family from a village, Bhodani in Maharashtra. Believing that there is no money in the sector, the brothers were brought up in the city of Pune away from the farming and rural lifestyle. However, their deep agricultural roots secretly made them desire a life on the farm, whenever they visited their village as kids. As they grew older the desire within only became stronger. Their family however didn’t see agriculture as a promising career choice, so they both pursued MBA and began working. “We never had the guts to pursue farming as we had secure jobs and were perfectly on the path that the society had conditioned us to be on,” recalls Satyajit talking to Handi Talks.

After moving cities and working for a few years, the brothers began to question themselves if they were even on the right path. Soon figuring out their true calling, both Satyajit and Ajinkya decided to quit their jobs. “Many people suggested we continue working and pursue farming post-retirement. But we didn’t want to waste our entire lives doing something we didn’t like and pursue our passion later. God knows how long we’ll live,” says Satyajit. And, so without wasting a minute the brothers put down their papers and shifted base to their village somewhere around the year 2013.


The Paradigm Shift


They decided to pursue organic farming on the land they inherited from their forefathers. But, the path wasn’t easy as neither had any knowledge or training in farming. Their interest however made the duo meet different organic farmers, follow many people from around the world and do a lot of research. Learning and practicing the skills brought about a sense of clarity in them. And, thus began the journey of Two Brothers Organic Farm, which the brothers started in the year 2014.

Seven years down the line, the brand today sells around 30 organic products. The ingredients for which are all sourced from their 21 acres Ecocert certified land. Some raw materials also come from farmers across India with whom the Hange brothers have tied up. The products have a shelf life of around 6 months, claims Satyajit. He also adds that the Two Brothers Organic Farms products are all free from additives, preservatives, binders and artificial agents and colours. All the company’s products are made using age-old processes that the brothers learnt from the elders in their village. They also traveled extensively to places in and around Maharashtra to learn traditional processing techniques.

Organic all the way



Their product line includes products such as ghee, jaggery, spices, peanut butter, moringa powder and flours among others. All these products are grown organically and processed using traditional techniques. Pointing out the difference in their technique Hange says “Our Ghee is made in small batches and not using the industrial process. Instead, we hand milk our desi Gir cows, boil it on firewood, innoculate the boiled milk with fresh curd and leave it to settle overnight.  The next day early morning between 4 to 6 a.m. we churn the curd to get butter and then melt it on firewood and prepare the ghee.” This method increases the nutritional value of the product. “Made using traditional ayurvedic process our ghee is unique,” he says. The company grinds its spices and flours in small batches on stone grinders instead of using industrial processing equipment.



Two Brothers Organic Farm products are available on their website and in passionately driven organic stores around the country. The company also caters to customers from more than 45 countries around the world says Hange.

Far-reaching influence

Satyajit and Ajinkya quit their lavish high paying jobs to pursue farming, something many want to do but can’t pluck up the courage for. However, the brothers have inspired many. Seeing them pursue their passion and realising there is a future in farming Satyajit says he gets calls asking him for advice. He says he has witnessed many in and around his circle take up farming since the brothers began seeing success.

What lies ahead

Two Brothers Organic Farm has had its share of challenges before establishing itself as a preferred organic brand in and outside India. First and foremost was the funding says Hange. Later they had to build trust among people for which they began marketing the product themselves as they had no staff. Today the brand however runs with a team of around 80 people. “The last 4 to 5 years have been awesome fun, we have learnt so much. In fact, these have been the best years of our lives,” says Hange.

As for their next steps, the brand aims to keep its product portfolio thin and increase it slowly in the coming years. Talking about future plans Satyajit says, “We will soon be starting a processing centre. We will also be investing in technology that will help our farmers run things in an efficient and effective manner. The company even plans to open a physical store or an experience centre in the United States to cater to our foreign clientele.”

hello tempayy

Saying Hello with Tempeh

After having seen success in Bengaluru, Vegolution’s Siddharth Ramasubramanian launches four variants of Hello Tempayy, a ready-to-cook brand of packaged Tempeh in Hyderabad

Protein is at the helm of the dietary world by virtue of its ability to foster muscle growth and become an integral part of the body’s evolution. In India, however, vegetarians are always victims of a protein-deficient diet in comparison to their non-vegetarian counterparts. Identifying this gap, Siddharth Ramasubramanian founded his Bengaluru-based venture, Vegolution in the year 2019. “Our venture was born out of a simple philosophy: to empower the huge vegetarian population with more protein choices and provide them something that is versatile in nature,” Siddharth says talking to Handi Talks. After careful deliberation, the Vegolution team introduced tempeh- made by fermenting soybeans, through their Hello Tempayy line in March 2021 in Bengaluru. Inspired by their initial success in the Garden City, the food start-up has recently stepped foot in Hyderabad.

Addressing the protein opportunity

With a desire to be a part of the restaurant business from a young age, Siddharth pursued post-graduation in Hospitality Management in the US. Since then, for the next two decades, he was part of the global hospitality and real estate industry. His desire to do something of his own brought him back to his motherland. He was quick to notice the opportunities the Indian food industry offered. Siddharth decided to launch Vegolution in 2019 to close the nutrition gap in the Indian vegetarian diet.

Ramasubramanian encountered tempeh for the first time in Europe when he ate it as part of an Indian dish. The new ingredient made him dig deeper and get to know it better. As he learnt more about it, he realised that tempeh could become an addition to the traditional options Indians vegetarians had. He first tried it at his home and everyone fell in love with it; that was when he chose to launch ‘Hello Tempayy’ into the Indian market. The launch he says has opened the ingredient to a huge audience. Some choose it because it is vegan. While others choose it because it gives them a protein-rich ingredient to cook various dishes with.

Hello Tempayy


Hello Tempayy
The Four Hello Tempayy variants

Hello Tempayy offers ready-to-cook Tempeh currently available in four variants namely Natural, Tawa Masala, Szechuan Chilli and Simply Siracha. “We offer a clean ingredient and make it using Non-GMO soybeans, water and a fermentation culture. You can then cut it into cubes or slices. You can mince or mash it too. Being versatile in nature, tempeh can be used to make different dishes while delivering protein. The small air pockets present in it, absorb the flavours very well,” Siddharth says. All the ingredients used in the products are fully sourced from India, he adds. The product is up for grabs via online and will soon be available in supermarkets.


Observing that vegetarians and vegans are short of B12 and iron, Vegolution has fortified its products with the two nutrients. To ease the process of cooking, Vegolution provides a QR code on the Hello Tempay pack that when scanned gives consumers access to 14 recipes.

Next steps


Keeping the price affordable, Hello Tempayy aims to be accessible to the average Indian household. Currently available in Bengaluru and Hyderabad the company aims to expand further to other Indian cities. In addition to being a B2C brand, Hello Tempayy has entered the B2B segment by partnering with restaurants and fitness brands. Talking about his next steps Siddharth expresses his desire to launch more protein options and formats for vegetarians in search of protein options.

Indian Vegetarian

Rekindle Your Digestive Fire, Rekindle Your Life: Dr Suhas Kshirsagar

Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar is a renowned Ayurvedic practitioner, author and educator in the US. Hailing from a family following Vedic rituals and traditions, Dr. Kshirsagar’s interests and understanding of Ayurveda developed at an early age. This led him to pursue an M.D in Ayurvedic Medicine from the Pune University in India, earning him a gold medal as well. After having served in senior positions in many Ayurveda and wellness institutes as well as clinics, Dr. Suhas now heads Ayurvedic Healing, an integrative Wellness & Panchkarma Clinic in Santa Cruz, California in the US.

He is also an author having written several books which include The Art & Science of Vedic Counselling, Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life. In this interview, Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar talks about his latest and best-selling book The Hot Belly Diet.

Can you share some insights/instances on how your book Hot Belly Diet has been received by the global audience, especially those who were not exposed to Ayurveda before?

If you’re in a battle with your weight, then chances are you’re desperate for results and have probably tried the latest weight-loss trends with disappointing, and often disheartening, results. You’ve cut calories, gone gluten-free, lowered your carbs, and tried to exercise more. Meanwhile, you’ve beaten yourself up emotionally, felt like a failure, wondered why nothing has worked for you, wished for more willpower, and lost your sense of joy and enthusiasm. You may even feel stuck and ready to give up.

Hot Belly Diet, is all about looking at Ayurvedic strategies for not only losing weight but also optimizing health. I believe that the timing for the book was perfect as well as the terminology that we used was geared towards the general population.

Hot Belly Diet became a Best Seller due to the relatability of the book. A lot of people even those who weren’t familiar with the concepts of Ayurveda, could relate to the characters in the book! Because Metabolic Syndrome was so prevalent at that time, 1 in 5 people had either elevated BP, Blood Sugar or Cholesterol. All diseases stem from poor diet and lifestyle choices. Ayurveda has the perfect template to reverse some of these disorders.

How does Ayurveda approach the idea of dieting for weight loss? 

We have to keep in mind that weight loss is NOT a natural process. So from an ayurvedic standpoint, we take into account a person’s prakruti or body constitution and come up with a plan to effectively detoxify and purify the body.

It is equally important to consciously keep a check on the timing of the meals. As Ayurveda describes, our digestion is less strong in the evening, and when we go to sleep, our digestion, metabolism, and circulation slow down even further. The body simply can’t assimilate large evening meals properly. The result is that much of the food is digested poorly and eventually creates toxins, fat, and excess weight. Even if we are eating less during the day, exercising, and taking special herbs, pills, powders and drinks, most of us will not be able to overcome this most serious all weight-loss mistake.

In the evening, it is especially important to avoid the following types of foods: cheese, yogurt, rich desserts, red meat, leftovers of any kind, cold foods, and processed foods. It’s also important to reduce evening consumption of fish, fowl, and starches.

Evening meals should be vegetarian, hot, light, and soupy. If you are significantly overweight, the foundation of the evening meal should be:

  • Non-cream soups
  • Complex grains cooked in water (for example, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and barley)
  • Vegetables: steamed, roasted, or sautéed with small amounts of extra-virgin olive oil. If you must have dessert, I recommend cooked fruit desserts made with only small amounts of organic sugar.

What are some of the most integral concepts to understand food as medicine as prescribed in Ayurveda?

One of the most crucial aspects of Food as medicine is “you are not what you eat, but rather you are what you digest” So we as humans, are a culmination of all of the input that we consume. It is therefore important to Eat fresh food, freshly prepared, and filled with prana, the vital life force.

As I write in my book Ayurveda holds that putting food back in the refrigerator after it has been cooked causes serious deterioration of the quality of the foods and their digestibility. Even if you reheat your leftover foods after you take them out of the refrigerator, they have lost their life-giving freshness.

We get more than molecules from food. We also get freshness, life force (prana), and nature’s intelligence. Physics tells us there is a classical world of molecules but also a quantum mechanical world of vibration. The vibration of the deeper fields that comprise nature’s life force and intelligence get destroyed by cooling cooked food. As a result, leftovers easily lead to improperly digested waste products called ama, which accumulate in the body and can create toxins, blockages, and excessive weight gain. Ultimately, accumulated ama can lead to the development of many diseases.

So not just the foods we eat, but the movies we watch, the music we listen to and even the relationships we hold. When your agni is balanced, it becomes easy to heal the body.

It is also important to remember that optimum digestion is the cornerstone of your health and wellbeing. Exercise is an antidote for almost everything that ails us. It improves digestion, metabolism, elimination, complexion, muscle tone and strength, and bone density ‒ and it helps us normalize weight. Physical activity is also positive on an emotional level as it can be enjoyable, increase self-confidence, and bring us greater energy, freshness, and success throughout the day.

One of your courses includes “Emotional Eating – Science of Food Cravings”. Can you elaborate on this and draw a comparison between the modern science approach vis-à-vis the Ayurvedic approach?

Emotional eating is a hot-button topic in the realm of emotional health these days. We are learning more and more about the enteric nervous system and the brain-gut connection. It is thought that there are more hormones released because of the food we eat than any other cause. From an Ayurvedic perspective, we look at food cravings as a sign of imbalance within the 6 tastes. If someone is lacking in the 6 tastes, these cravings will worsen. Sweet, Sour, and Salty are never a problem for most people, but we usually miss out on Bitter, Astringent, and Pungent. These lead to depletion or aggravation of certain character traits which then lead to even more cravings!

How do the tridoshas complement Agni and Ama? How can one ensure a balance in our food?

The three doshas work independently to maintain balance. Everyone has all three doshas. But what sets people apart from one another is the predominance of these doshas. An individual’s level of agni and ama is actually dependent on their dosha make-up or prakruti! A pitta predominant person will naturally have a stronger agni and low ama. Whereas a kapha person will tend to have a low agni and higher chance of ama build-up. So, the food you consume should be according to not just your agni and ama level but also your individual dosha type, time of year (season), and any current imbalance.


All that Glitters of Turmeric is indeed Gold

Haldi is the most celebrated common spice, having a fragrant aroma and can be found in almost every Indian kitchen. Today, India produces nearly all of the world’s Turmeric crop owing to the suitable tropical-high rainfall climate. 80 percent of this cultivation is consumed domestically. Marco Polo on his way to India via the Silk Route was so impressed by it that he compared it with saffron, and so today it is also called ‘Indian Saffron’.

Looking back at Turmeric

The history and mystery of Indian cuisine stretches back to the ancient Indus Society, where spices such as Turmeric, Ginger, Pepper etc., have been discovered from many Harappan sites. Arunima Kashyap & Steve Weber’s study on Harappan Plants identified starch of curcuma in one of the Harappan handi (cooking pot), indicating what could have been the world’s oldest kari or curry, a spicy vegetable/meat sauce. Did you know that we have been consuming this yellow spice for the past 8000 years?

Be it ancient Indus meals or grand nosh-ups of international Michelin star restaurants, Indian curry remains a timeless favourite! Dropping below are some of Chef Anna Hansen’s fusion cooking blends using Turmeric.

Before it was commonly used as a spice for food, Turmeric was used as a medicine during the Vedic period. From India, it is believed to have travelled to China, Africa and America. This demand for Indian spices is believed to have facilitated the trade routes, very much a globalisation process.

As one of India’s Soft Power ambassadors, the sunshine of Turmeric provides for varied everyday uses. As a superfood in everyday cooking – the compound Curcumin which happens to be the main ingredient in Turmeric possesses powerful healing properties to the extent that its anti-inflammatory properties are believed to rival those of ibuprofen. Consuming it with food is helpful for gastrointestinal issues, feelings of depression and turmeric juice helps heal wounds, something which is promoted by both Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine.

Turmeric in traditional medicine

Unani practitioners vouch for Turmeric to be used in food to expel kapha (phlegm) and improve blood circulation. In around 500 BC, turmeric became an important part of Ayurveda, an ancient system of Indian medicine that mentions about 100 including jayanti. The overall Ayurvedic perspective on this vibrant spice provides for wonderous results - balances all the doshas, cleanses toxins from the body, and maintains health.

Turmeric is believed to neutralise the free radicals responsible for damage relating to aging. In Panchkarma applications, Haridra, another name of turmeric, translates as ‘beneficial for skin diseases. Several multinational companies also use Turmeric in the manufacturing of face creams and sunscreens.

Our mothers’ belief in the power of this culinary super spice was real after all! All that glitters of Turmeric is indeed gold.

Turmeric during the pandemic

Courtesy COVID-19, the Scientific Community around the world has once again turned towards India’s traditional scientific knowledge system in a search for alternative medicine to fight the virus.

Ashwagandha, Moringa, Tulsi, Guduchi and Turmeric – principal condiments known to India since ancient times and in use since about 5000 years as common home remedies – are today being welcomed by the West with zest into their own lifestyles, especially as preventive medicine – to boost immunity and overall energy of the body. The gems that make for an integral part of the traditional Indian medicine systems like Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha are being widely studied by the West. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and University of Maryland Medical Center summarise the studies relating to the benefits of Turmeric undertaken by the West.

In Indian culture, turmeric goes far beyond medicine and is deemed to be auspicious and sacred. From being used in wedding day traditions to adorning gods with haldi tilaks and swastikas. The power of turmeric in Indian culinary traditions works as an adhesive to bring Indians.

Turmeric in Gujarati Cuisine

In Gujarati thalis, the yellow-coloured presence of Turmeric flavour and aroma is reflective of Gujarat’s golden cultural cuisine.  A special mention has to be made for the bright, spicy and sour GUJARATI DAL (soupy lentil dish) that is seasoned with many spices, including the super spice of Turmeric. The highlight of a Gujarati thali would be the Gujarati Kachcha Haldi ka Achaar (Fresh Turmeric Pickle), an age-old Gujarati relish prepared by only using turmeric, lemon and salt. Listing out some of these lip-smacking snacks, a delight for vegetarians world over.

The fame of all these traditional and nutritional Gujarati dishes is not only limited to the Gujarati diaspora but is widely enjoyed beyond the national borders also. From traditional Sciences to modern Sciences, from households to medical centers, the golden spice is undeniably having a ‘panacea moment’ everywhere!


This article is authored by Ms Tanya Chaudhary, currently volunteering with CSP. Tanya is a political science student at Hindu College, University of Delhi. 

Top Brands Recreating Chocolates For The Vegan In You

Vegans nowadays not only have substitutes for yogurt, milk, and meat but also for chocolates. With new brands launching vegan chocolates, conscious consumers today are spoilt for choice. But did you know that even popular chocolate brands around the world are recreating their products and launching vegan alternatives for their loyal customers? Here are some of your favourite brands taking the vegan road.

Mars – Galaxy, Bounty and Topic


vegan chocolates

With an intention to cater to the growing vegan buzz, Mars became the first major confectionery company to launch vegan alternatives to milk chocolates. It took the step in the year 2019. The UK-based company first launched three flavours under its Galaxy chocolate line namely Smooth Orange, Caramel and Sea Salt and Caramelised Hazelnut. To these, it later added Crumbled Cookie and Smooth Mint making the total offerings into 5 plant-based alternatives. All the flavours are blended in hazelnut paste while the smooth mint flavour is blended in almond paste.

In January this year, the company expanded its vegan chocolate portfolio to Bounty and Topic chocolate lines. The milk chocolate in bounty alternative is replaced with almond paste. The Topic bar on the other hand is made using hazelnut paste.


Vegan chocolate

Stick, bar, truffle, assorted, dark, white, milk, caramel, the list of Lindt’s chocolate forms and flavours are endless. In addition to these varieties, the company launched vegan milk chocolate bars under the range HELLO last year in 2020 giving in to the ongoing vegan trend across the world. The Swiss brand launched three flavours namely Cookie, Hazelnut and Salted Caramel. All these flavours are made using oat milk. The bars are wrapped in cardboard in a bid to be eco-friendly and are available in 100 gms packages.


Nestlé KitKat V


Vegan Chocolate

Launched close to 9 decades ago, KitKat continues to rule the hearts of many around the world. Over the years Nestlé introduced numerous flavours of this chocolate-covered wafer bar and amused people. This time however the brand decided to give in to its fans’ requests for a vegan Kitkat. Hence making their wish come true, Nestlé announced the launch of its vegan version – Kitkat V, in June this year. The variation it says is the result of research and development it put in to bring its lovers a non-dairy chocolate innovation. It is made with 100% sustainable cocoa and the milk in the bar has been replaced with a rice-based alternative. Starting with the European countries the chocolate will soon be available on the shelves of other countries too.


Vegan Chocolate

Don’t we all love the Hershey’s Kisses, Cookie ‘N’ Creme Bar, Dark Chocolates and Miniatures? But what if we were to tell you that the American brand will no longer be making these products with milk? Yes, earlier this year (April 2021), the company announced its decision to discontinue the use of milk in all its products with immediate effect. It made this decision out of its concern for the environment, the company said. Hershey’s further added it will be making its chocolates using plant-based alternatives such as coconut cream substitutes. So, it is only a matter of time when you’ll see its chocolates become vegan friendly.

Nepra Foods

Nepra Foods completes Oversubscribed $7.47 Million Initial Public Offering

Nepra Foods Inc announced the successful completion of the Company's initial public offering (the "IPO") of 15,903,465 common shares (the "Offered Shares") at a price of $0.47 per Offered Share for total gross proceeds of $7,474,629, which included 2,073,678 Offered Shares from the exercise of the over-allotment option. Colorado-based Nepra Foods creates nutritious plant based and allergen-free food.

Nepra's CEO, David Wood shares, "The enthusiasm we are seeing from the investor community with the launching of our IPO confirms our beliefs that the evolution the food industry is seeing away from animal-based proteins is not merely a short-term fad, but a long-term global trend. The key will be providing consumers with very nutritious, satisfying foods with great tastes and textures. The proceeds from this IPO is expected to accelerate our expansion into consumer products using our innovative ingredients."

What David Wood said about plant-based industry is also confirmed by various studies. Internationally food manufacturing startups, leading CPG companies and world's largest meat companies are working towards filling the increasing demand for plant-based alternatives through innovation and research. The new age plant based meats, eggs and dairy products are being developed on par with animal products in terms of taste, texture and most importantly price and accessibility. Logistics are much better. And studies are repeatedly showing promising growth in the space. The plant-based food market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.9% from 2020 to 2027 to reach $74.2 billion by 2027.

sustainable spirit

Shanna Farrell’s book ‘A Good Drink’​ promotes sustainable spirits

Interviewer at UC Berkeley's Oral History Center, Bartender and oral historian Shanna Farrell's book - 'A Good Drink - In Pursuit of Sustainable Spirit' features stories of farmers, distillers and bartenders driving the transformation.

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The world of spirits is surely shifting towards sustainability. There is increased discussion on reducing the carbon imprint induced by huge volumes of water required for distillation, not to mention the bars that generate mountains of trash. Shanna Farrell stresses on the urgent need to sustainable spirits movement. This not just reduces waste while producing but a shift towards organic during farming process posing environmental hazards when crops are grown using fertilizers and chemicals.


The book also features -

Arturo Campos, a fourth-generation mezcalero in Jalisco, Mexico, working with his father to preserve traditional ways of producing mezcal and the owner of the White Lyan bar in London who eliminated individual bottles and ice. She visits High Wire Distilling Co. in South Carolina, where a husband-wife team are bringing a legendary moonshiner’s corn, Jimmy Red corn, back

Shanna Farrell

from near extinction using sustainable practices. At the Maker’s Mark distillery in Kentucky, Farrell sees if it’s possible to pre¬serve local ecology while producing spirits on a large scale. These people are part of a growing trend to recognize spirits for what they are—part of our food system.

From agave fields in Mexico to the American South, small sustainable spirits businesses are galvanizing a good-drink movement. "A Good Drink" encourages readers to think “farm to bar” about what they drink by engaging with spirits on a deeper level. Farrell shows how a spirit’s unique history – from who made it to how they made it – becomes a new way to enjoy that next drink.

For readers who have ever wondered who grew the pears that went into their brandy or why their cocktail is an unnatural shade of red, "A Good Drink" is an eye-opening tour of the spirits industry. For anyone who cares about the future of our planet, it offers a hopeful vision of change, one pour at a time.


This Is Vegan Propaganda – Ed Winters’​ debut book

Every time we eat, we have the power to radically transform the world we live in - This statement from is what defines Ed Winters. His new book is for both sceptics and followers of veganism

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Vegan educator and public speaker Ed Winters' debut book 'This Is Vegan Propaganda' answers the pressing question, is there a better way? The book aims to answer the questions spurred by ongoing debate between the advocates of meat industry and sustainable eating activists.

Through exploring the major ways that our current system of animal farming affects the world around us, as well as the cultural and psychological factors that drive our behaviours Ed brings out a book that will show you the other side of the story that has been hidden for far too long.

Introduction to the book mentions - Our choices can help alleviate the most pressing issues we face today: the climate crisis, infectious and chronic diseases, human exploitation and, of course, non-human exploitation. Undeniably, these issues can be uncomfortable to learn about but the benefits of doing so cannot be overstated. It is quite literally a matter of life and death

Ed's book is based on years of research and conversations with slaughterhouse workers and farmers, to animal rights philosophers, environmentalists and everyday consumers. 'This Is Vegan Propaganda' through the book, he gives you the knowledge to understand the true scale and enormity of the issues at stake.

About the author

Ed Winters has been advocating veganism through his talks, debates and YouTube videos since 2006. In 2018, his university speech 'You Will Never Look at your Life in the Same Way', which has been given to thousands of students across UK universities, went viral.

In December 2020 Winters announced that he and his team have founded the 'Surge Sanctuary' a forever home for abused and unwanted animals on an 18 acre site in rural England. There are currently over 100 rescued animals living their lives in peace and safety at Surge Sanctuary, including mother cows and calves who have been rescued from the dairy industry.

Whether you are a vegan already or curious to learn more, this book will show you the other side of the story that has been hidden for far too long. Based on years of research and conversations with slaughterhouse workers and farmers, to animal rights philosophers, environmentalists and everyday consumers, vegan educator and public speaker Ed Winters will give you the knowledge to understand the true scale and enormity of the issues at stake.

Ed also opened Unity Diner in 2018, a non-profit vegan restaurant in London where the profits go directly back into helping animals.


Indian Swasthya: A Class Apart

A cultural paradise, a foodie’s delight, an adventure junkie’s adrenaline rush, a fashion designer’s inspiration, an artist’s canvas, and a performer’s melody is India. It is a country that is on every traveller’s bucket list. A number of people flock to India to experience all the above but did you know India is the most sought after destination for medical care? Read more to know why. 

There are a plethora of reasons as to why people visit India for medical reasons. Primarily, it is because India provides cost-effective treatments followed by quick appointment schedules. A heart bypass surgery costs around $1,30,000 in the United States; the same surgery costs $7000 dollars in India. These apart, India has highly experienced doctors, nurses, and state-of-the-art medical equipment with the latest technology.  Lastly, India is sought out by many for its complementary systems of medicine such as Ayurveda, Siddha, Yoga, and more.

According to the International Healthcare and Research Center Statistics, India ranks 5th globally and 2nd in Asia on the Medical tourism index. In the past decade, the narrative on medical tourism has changed from cost to quality of healthcare. Thirty percent of those who come to India believe that we offer quality of care and see better treatment outcomes. Indian surgeons are far more experienced with respect to complex surgeries. The same surgeries are performed abroad a maximum of three times whereas in India, the same is performed twenty times a year, and this makes a massive difference in complex surgeries and with difficult cases.

At our annual conference, Namaste, Mr Shriram Vijayakumar, CEO of IHH Healthcare, India said, “Many private healthcare groups have invested in advanced technology to help offer best possible treatments. This seems to be lacking even in the most developed nations. Medical tourism has helped rebuild the brand of the country in terms of competence and quality.”

Medical tourism in India has an immense potential to boost the economy. Every year, there are more than 170 thousand people landing in India for medical purposes. In 2017, around five lakh medical tourists visited India boosting the economy by more than $3 billion. 20 - 30% of the beds in India are occupied by foreigners. Around forty hospitals are now Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited which is the highest form of accreditation a hospital can offer. With over five lakh specialists and two lakh general physicians, there is access to every form of medical care in the country.

Geographically, many countries prefer a particular city for their treatment. The top metropolitan cities have super specialty hospitals with a good healthcare infrastructure. Many South East Asian countries prefer North East India; Middle Eastern countries prefer Mumbai and Delhi. Many African countries visit down south. Apart from travelling for medical purposes, many African students attend medical schools in South India too.

Western Europe does have a good national healthcare system which is why India wouldn’t be able to attract patients from there. However, a large population of the Indian diaspora visit India to attend to their treatments. Apart from them, uninsured patients, patients from countries that lack a good healthcare system are also those seen travelling to India.

“Apart from an economic boost, medical tourism has the ability to improve our diplomatic ties with the Middle East and Africa. This provides a huge opportunity, given the amount of healthcare offered to these countries,” said Mr Shriram.

Due to the pandemic, the medical tourism market was grossly affected. To cope with that, the Government of India has announced free tourist visas to the first 5 lakh tourists. From the medical tourism perspective, this move can generate more revenue and revive the market that was on hiatus for more than a year.

Following their surgeries, patients look to recuperate before travelling to their home nations. This is where traditional medicine plays a huge role. India is home to Ayurveda that dates back 5000 years, a school of medicine that treats physical and mental ailments. However, people opt for Ayurveda not only for recuperation or wellness purposes but also as the first line of treatment.  

Preventive healthcare is something that is not offered by western medicine. Panchakarma is a very complex medical procedure in Ayurveda based on one’s body constitution. This term is nowadays very loosely stated as detoxification. Obesity is a major issue. Allopathy offers liposuction that is accompanied with side effects. Ayurveda has strategies that involve lifestyle changes and these are accompanied by lesser or zero side effects. Allopathy does not provide solutions to issues as common as diabetes, hypertension and more. In case of diabetes, a common ailment in India, the only solution offered is the administration of insulin shots.

Ayurveda on the other hand is known to be able to cure or at least control the ailment. Autism, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, PCOS, and more are cured by Ayurveda. Lifestyle based health issues find solutions in Ayurvedic texts. The cause of the disease is looked into rather than the symptoms alone. The Doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha), Gunas (Sattva, Rajas, Tamas) and Sapta Dhatus are made sure to be in balance along with a  balanced state of mind.

Mr Vijay Kumar, CEO and founder of AyurUniverse mentioned how the west- both the general public and the medical community have understood and diverted their attention to this. This revelation comes to most only after dabbling with western medicine. When their needs are not fully met, they turn to Ayurveda. “Most Ayurvedic treatments are complementary. For example, in the case of cancer, when a patient undergoes chemotherapy, immune responses are weakened, bodily functions are affected with a not-so-great quality of life,” he added. 

Patients now travel to India to undergo Ayurvedic procedures - both invasive and external. Panchakarma treatments include Vamana (medical emesis), Virechana (therapeutic purgation), Basti (medicated enema), Nasya (administering medicines through the nose) and Rakthamokshana (blood purification). Apart from these procedures that detoxify the body, cosmetic surgeries are also included. Ayurveda based cosmetic products have attracted many for their anti-ageing properties. Ayurveda also prescribes a certain diet and a lifestyle to be followed that has long-term benefits. Along with Ayurveda, practice of Yoga has also helped in faster recuperation and newfound surge of energy in life.

Across the world and in India, there are many Ayurvedic spas and retreats that offer services to hundreds of people every year in different areas. GoI has allowed Ayurvedic retreats in Ayurveda hospitals that carry NABH certification. This provides a level of authentication and credibility to . Kerala Tourism has also introduced Green Leaf and Olive Leaf grading to Ayurvedic institutions to ensure the quality of service. Green leaf is provided to those that offer five-star facilities and Olive leaf to those that offer three-star facilities. This grading system provides credibility and assures those who visit the centres the best service available.

The Ministry of AYUSH is also working towards promoting Ayurveda tourism, not only on a global level but also domestically. It is not a commonly known fact but many insurance policies are said to cover the cost of Ayurvedic treatments too.

“A brick wall is built between Allopathic and traditional forms of medicine. In China, 15-20% of the healthcare system is associated with traditional Chinese medicine. Even their hospitals have a department that is solely for traditional medicine,” said Mr Shriram. 

He added that this is an area we need to work on, to bring the systems of medicine together. In Thailand, there is good hospitality and infrastructure, and traditional forms of medicine too. In  India, Allopathy works in silos and is missing out on harnessing the potential and expertise a 5000 year old traditional medicine holds. 

Despite that, India is still the country of choice when it comes to medical care compared to China or Thailand. One of the major reasons lies in the fact that, India majorly is an English speaking country. Secondly, many Indian doctors are trained in premier institutions in India and abroad. Thirdly, India develops and manufactures drugs that show increased efficacy and are available for a lower rate in the market when compared to most other countries. 

India, fifteen years ago provided the highest quality of medical outcomes only in quasi-governmental institutions or medical colleges such as AIIMS, New Delhi or CMC, Vellore.

Today, facilities at Apollo, Fortis or IHH hospitals, are a class apart. Right from infrastructure, service, international food, high quality of equipment and the right level of technology is being provided to every patient. Over the last couple of years, hospitals have begun to publish their work in many academic journals with improved data and statistics. Patients have taken to social media and other internet platforms to share their experiences with Indian medical care. Although this doesn’t mean every experience is positive, the positives outweigh the negative, and this has helped medical tourism flourish in India.  


Cardamom, The Queen of the Spice Jungle

Kautilya in his book, Arthashastra, quotes, “A green pearl on the banks of the river Periyar in the South-west mountains”. This green pearl is also known as the Queen of Spices, cardamom. A native to South India, cardamom grew in large amounts in the Western Ghats, so much so that the mountains were also known as Cardamom Hills.

Apart from its mention in the Arthashastra, cardamom finds mention in Amarakosha and in many Ayurvedic texts, including Charaka Samhitha. Cardamom was so precious that it was gifted during many functions. Cardamom is one among five spices that is used in Paan, a preparation with betel leaves. This preparation is known as Pancha Sugandha Thambula (five-fragrance Paan) and is mentioned in the work, Manasollasa, a 12th century Sanskrit text that covered topics on governance, ethics, economics, astrology, veterinary sciences, perfumery, food, sports, painting, poetry and more. 

The royal subjects in the court of the Malabar king traded cardamom with Arab merchants. Cardamom was established as a secondary crop after coffee in many agricultural estates in India during British rule. Cardamom was also taken with travellers and traders to Portugal, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, who set foot in South India. Romans and Greeks then traded cardamom with the Nordic countries such as Norway and Finland. 

Cardamom is rich in medicinal and aromatic properties and initially, due to certain climatic circumstances, cardamom was found in low quantities and is. This is one of the reasons why Kautilya called it a green pearl. Cardamom can, now, easily be grown and it grows throughout the year. 

Now let’s talk about the varieties of cardamom. Cardamom was classified on various factors, such as their location: Malabar and Mysore, of which the Mysore variety is more aromatic owing to the presence of lineol and limonene (aromatic compounds); based on the colour, flavour and aroma of the pods, they are classified into two types: Green and Black. Green cardamom has a very strong and intense flavour and a powerfully sweet-smelling aroma. Black cardamom on the other hand has a smoky flavour and has a coolness to it similar to that of mint. This is why in most countries, black cardamom is used as a mouth freshener as cardamom can keep bad breath at bay. Green cardamom is also used as a mouth freshener in India. 

Green cardamom can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes; black cardamom is best suited for savoury dishes. Cardamom is used in plenty of dishes belonging to a variety of cuisines ranging from Indian to Middle Eastern to Scandinavian. In India, green cardamom is used to make sweet dishes such as payasam / kheer, and puddings, and used in savoury dishes like biryani and other rice dishes. Green cardamom is added in chai to give a refreshing flavour. Apart from that, it is used in garam masala and spice blends along with many other spices.

In the Middle East, green cardamom dust is used in sugary dishes as well as for coffee and tea. Coffee and cardamom blend is used in many dishes.

The Scandinavian countries extensively use cardamom in their dishes. Finnish use it to make a sweet bread, Pulla. The Norwegian Christmas bread Julekake has cardamom as one of it’s key ingredients. In other Nordic countries, it is a favourite spice to scent doughs, poaching liquids and to flavour drinks; one such drink is known as Glogg (mulled wine).

Essential oils in cardamom play a crucial role in cardamom’s usage in many areas such as cuisine and perfumery as well. Essential oils extracted from cardamom have multiple medicinal uses and they make it an indispensable spice. It was an ingredient in many perfumes and aphrodisiacs. It was used to relieve any gastrointestinal issues such as indigestion, constipation and dysentery. It also has carminative (relieve flatulence) and antispasmodic properties, which help to alleviate symptoms of nausea, flatulence, and indigestion.

Cardamom oil is a warming spice which means that it facilitates blood circulation. Cardamom oil diffusers help regulate the flow of oxygen in the body. It also possesses antimicrobial and antiseptic properties and thus was widely employed to fight gum and teeth issues. As an antiseptic, cardamom oil is used topically.

In today's modern day, cardamom finds its use in many home remedies. Cardamom oil soothes headaches and calms the nervous system. This can be done by rubbing the oil on specific pulse points. It is also used as a diuretic and can help the kidneys to function smoothly by removing excess toxin build-up. Cardamom oil helps renew skin cells and slows down ageing. Due to high concentrations of linalool and limonene in cardamom, it can help soothe scalp inflammation. It reduces dryness and fights bacteria that cause itchy dandruff.

Cardamom seeds were to have antibacterial properties and many used them to brush teeth to avoid decay and cavities. Other antibacterial properties include efficacy against infections caused by E.coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter.

In Ayurveda, cardamom is a tridoshic spice that balances Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. However, Pitta type people must consume it sparingly as it can cause more heat in the body. It reduces the build-up of Ama (toxins) that can block channels and lead to diseases. Cardamom can detoxify by reducing the accumulation of Ama. It reduces Kapha dosha in the stomach and lungs (any congestion) and also pacifies Vata dosha, which when out of control, can cause anxiety.

Most households, especially in North India use cardamom extensively. It is a spice that cannot be ignored and the masala dabba is incomplete without cardamom. 

Signing off with a quick home remedy to fight fatigue after a long day’s work- a pinch of cardamom and turmeric in milk. Cardamom has a good amount of essential vitamins and minerals that can energise the body. With its innumerable benefits and remarkable properties, Cardamom is truly the Queen of Spices.

The King of the Spice Jungle

Spices were one of the earliest trade commodities in India.  Pepper was leading among the variety of spices cultivated in India. A native of India, pepper dates back to almost 2000 B.C. It was considered a very precious spice and was demanded, by the Goths from Rome, as ransom along with silk, gold and other gems. Pepper is also regarded as black gold due to its international trade factor.

Pepper requires a hot and humid climate and an average rainfall of 200mm. The western ghats in Kerala and Karnataka exhibit these conditions and are suitable for the growth of black pepper. Of the many regions that grow pepper, Malabar is the best suited. It was the first home to black pepper and to this day produces the finest black pepper.  Let us go back in time to have a quick glimpse into the worldwide trade of pepper. 

Spice trade between India and Egypt goes way back. Egyptians used peppercorns to fill the noses of the mummified bodies. The sea route that connected Malabar coast and Europe was one of the famous sea routes used to export pepper and other spices, Romans dominated this sea route to India. Later, Vasco de Gama set out to India in search of spices that led to the discovery of a new sea route. He exported almost two million kilograms of spices annually from India to Portugal. Portugal held an upper hand in  the spice trade, following which Dutch took over. When Dutch colonies settled in Malabar, they traded pepper with south-eastern countries. They also took the plant to Vietnam, Java, Lampong and other distant lands. The fertile lands of Vietnam To this day, Vietnam remains the largest producer of pepper. When India was under British rule, they dominated the spice trade. India was the most sought out for spices owing to the fertile soil. Currently, in India, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the leading pepper-producing states.  

With pepper having travelled and settled world-wide, it has become a favourite condiment of many and is used in a variety of cuisines. Pepper livens up bland food, giving it a certain spice and warmth that tingles the taste buds. Many spice blends contain pepper in them because it enhances their flavour and provides a certain heat to the mix. 

There are three types of peppercorns and each of them contribute to a different flavour. They are: green, black and, white. The berries that you see in the photograph above are termed as peppercorns and the crushed peppercorns that we see on our table is pepper. (In this article, to avoid confusion, the two will be used interchangeably with the same meaning as peppercorns.)

Green peppercorns are unripe berries that are harvested early and pickled in vinegar or brine. It is not allowed to dry. They have lesser concentration of spiciness and warmth in them than black pepper and hence are the least pungent among the three types.

Black peppercorns are picked only when the berries turn red. They are then immersed in boiling water for ten minutes, causing certain enzymes in them to turn the skin to dark brown or black in the next one hour or so. The berries are then allowed to dry for three to five days. They have a strong, spicy flavour. These are the peppercorns that we see on our dining table. 

White peppercorns are fully-ripened berries that are soaked in water to soften the husk. The outer black husk is removed and dried. Their flavour is less intense than black peppercorns.

The pungency in pepper is due to the presence of an active compound known as Piperine which gives pepper the characteristic heat. Apart from piperine, it also contains other compounds such as lignans, alkaloids, and flavonoids. It also has certain aromatic compounds such as alpha-terpineol, acetophenones, citral, and many others that contribute to its aroma. Essential oils such as sabinene, pinene, linalool and limonene present in pepper also contribute to its musky and spicy aroma. 

A teaspoon of pepper is a storehouse of folic acid, vitamin A, C, E and, K Niacin, Thiamin, and Riboflavin. Calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and manganese are some of the main minerals in pepper.

Black pepper can be used on an assortment of dishes that include vegetables, fruits, soup, stew, meat and more, and is found in every household. After salt, it is the most frequently used spice. In India, pepper is used in many dishes such as Pongal and Khichdi; spice blends, especially in garam masala. Pepper rasam is a favourite among South Indians, especially during the monsoons or when there is a flu in the house. It also finds use in many traditional home remedies which are mentioned later in the article. 

Pepper is a common ingredient used in other cuisines too. French prefer white pepper, especially in their cream sauces and spice mixes such as mignonette. White pepper is also preferred in Vietnamese, Chinese and Swedish cuisine. Middle Eastern cuisine also features pepper in their spice blends such as zhoug, Baharat, and berebere. Americans use pepper in salads, sauces, and soups too. 

Pepper has a variety of uses apart from cooking. In most Indian households,  Pepper is used to alleviate coughs and colds and is used to make kashayas / khadas (a concoction of herbs). The heat in the pepper is considered soothing to the throat and the sinuses. It is also used in the treatment of food poisoning, dysentery, and cholera. Pepper also has anti-carcinogenic properties revealed by the Ames test (which tests whether certain chemicals can cause mutations in DNA). Piperine inhibits some of the pro-inflammatory proteins secreted by tumour cells.

Piperine, along with enzymes present in the liver, has the ability to protect the liver from oxidative stress and damage. According to a study, pepper increases the bioavailability of curcumin, an active compound present in turmeric. A combination of pepper and turmeric has a more significant effect in terms of health benefits. Pepper has carminative properties. In other words, it causes a reflex flow of saliva and an increased secretion of gastric juice which improves appetite and also aids in digestion.

Pepper also helps to break down large fat molecules in the body and prevents accumulation of fat in the body. It also has antipyretic properties and can thus be used during a fever to bring down the body temperature. It can enhance body immunity by boosting the efficacy of white blood cells.

Pepper is mentioned in the Charaka Samhita and is termed as pipali. It increases internal heat and is thus used to strengthen Pitta dosha. Pitta dosha controls digestion, metabolism, and energy synthesis.

Pepper also decreases Vata and Kapha doshas. People belonging to the Vata type tend to have properties such as dryness, cold, and lightness in the body. To balance Vata, the person must opt for warmth in their life. Pepper can be a good addition to their diet to balance their doshas. Kapha dosha dominant people are physically heavy, and are usually overweight. Piperine in pepper stimulates the appetite and enhances metabolism aiding in weight loss. 

Pepper is harvested when they are unripe and green in colour. According to practitioners, at this stage of development, pepper has rich healing properties. Some of it uses in Ayurvedic treatment are:

  • pepper is  used to treat respiratory diseases, as well as colic. 
  • Pepper oil is used to relieve a patient from pain (acts as an analgesic).Black pepper powder is 
  • used in many herbal tooth powder recipes. 
  • Gargling pepper decoction can alleviate tooth pain.

Certain home remedies as prescribed in Ayurveda are as follows:

  •  Pepper powder with honey and ghee to relieve cough.
  • Pepper with jaggery and curd for a chronic cold.

If you are troubled by these chronic ailments, give these remedies a go. There is not a day when pepper is ignored in our daily life. Pepper finds its use in almost all walks of good health and with that, it is safe to say it is truly The King of all Spices.