On a healthy food trail

the asian age  | Nishtha Kanal

Life, Food

City restaurants have signed up to promote a limited-edition healthy menu for the month as part of a food festival.

Pomfret fillet steamed seabass

With the plethora of fast-food options and roadside joints available in Mumbai, the city seems to be largely starved of all-inclusive healthy eating options. This is something Seema Pinto intended to change with her Diabetic Food Trail.

In its second year, the annual trail is now spread over 200 restaurants across five cities, a huge chunk of them being in Mumbai. “In the city, we have the likes of Sassy Spoon, Farzi Café, Lemon Leaf, Zaffran, Melhua, Renaissance and more on board. In cases of outlets like Zaffran, all their branches in the city will be serving a healthy menu,” explains Seema, also a director in an events company. “What’s beautiful about this is, say, restaurants serving Chinese cuisine have a special healthy menu in that very cuisine. That’s how they’ve tweaked their menu, and we have many varied cuisines on our list too.”

A diabetic herself, Seema came up with the first edition of the trail last year to have more options available for people living with the condition, as well as the health conscious. However, with the rising popularity of the healthy menu, she hopes this will be a thing of the past. “It was a little difficult last year, but a lot of restaurant owners and chefs have been receptive to the idea,” she informs us. “The diners themselves had been requesting chefs for healthy options, asking them if they had something with less oil, less calories or no sugar.”

The team, however, realises the hurdles in their paths to make this event stretch beyond November. One problem Seema faces is training chefs to provide carefully measured dishes, every single time. “The biggest issue the restaurants face is about making healthy food to precision,” the founder groans. “You can’t just slap together a few ingredients and make your food healthy. That is something their sous chefs need to be trained in.”

Seema also urged the participating restaurants to have a special desserts menu for the trail. “Even we diabetics need a complete menu, from the soup to the desserts!” she exclaims. “They’ve also added a mocktail menu to it. The chefs have ensured they use stevia is a substitute to processed sugar.”

One recurring event that Seema hopes to be a regular affair as part of the food trail is a cooking masterclass, that’s held in the beginning of November each year. “This time, we even had culinary students come in to check out how healthy food options can be created. For people, healthy or diabetic-friendly ingredients start and end at karela. I wanted people to think beyond that,” she smiles.

The food trail is ongoing till November 30 For more information, visit www.diabeticfoodtrail.com

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