Given her vocation, pastry chef and macaron queen, Pooja Dhingra is always surrounded by gluttonous temptations.
Given her vocation, pastry chef and macaron queen, Pooja Dhingra is always surrounded by gluttonous temptations. However, it was while training for the marathon in 2014 than she decided to experiment with alternate treats. Three years later, Pooja is out with a book which focuses on healthy eating. “I had to stop eating these bakes since I was training for the marathon. Since I was working with healthier options, it only made sense for me to come up with a book,” explains Pooja.
Titled The Wholesome Kitchen (Hatchett India), Pooja has included Indian staples like coconut, dates, turmeric, sabja, rajma, and even lauki. “The book mainly has recipes based around ingredients that I like to cook/bake with. Also, the idea was that most of the ingredients should be easily accessible and available,” explains Pooja. However, if there is one ingredient that didn’t find a place on her table, it is the humble, but much hated, karela. “This is one vegetable that I am not fond of. I mean my family eats it, but it isn’t something I will voluntarily put on my plate!” she laughs.
The book is divided into five sections — Basics, Energize, Nourish, Refresh and Indulge — which includes recipes for butters, protein shakes, dips, and of course, desserts like fudge, truffles and cakes. The project started with 200 recipes but Pooja eventually had to snip them to about 85 recipes on the basis of nutritional count. She says, “I had to let a lot of these recipes go, because I had to ensure that these recipes were enriching nutrition-wise. I am not someone who looks at calorie counts, but there are many who do, and the whole point of the book is to eat healthy anyway.”
The Wholesome Kitchen also includes a section of recipes from Pooja’s celebrity friends. Think Sonam Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra, Shraddha Kapoor and Masaba Gupta. Pooja says that it was only natural to invite her famous clients to share recipes. She asserts, “We decided to include their favourites after having conversations. I realised that they have hectic lives; to add to that, they have to deal with the constant pressure of having to look good all the time. Yet, they do indulge. Balance is always the key to a happy stomach, without having to give up on indulgent good food.”