Going nuts

Nupur Pradhan
Thursday, 6 September 2018

Chef Sabyasachi Gorai, in association with California Walnut Commission, is hosting a month-long California Walnut Festival. He tells us more about the goodness of walnuts, food trends and how to curb food wastage

Walnuts are known to have health benefits as they are enriched with fats, vitamins and minerals. The nuts that resemble the human brain are also one of the major sources of omega-3, an essential fatty acid that is required for the smooth functioning of the body and also helps prevent chronic diseases. California Walnuts are considered to be one of the best worldwide.

Harvested in the state of California, USA, the nuts are grown in a controlled environment with the highest quality controls and are free of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). 

Chef Sabyasachi Gorai, in association with California Walnut Commission, is hosting a month-long California Walnut Festival and is serving dishes made exclusively with these nuts at Mineority By Saby, Kalyani Nagar. The dishes include Miners Nacho and Walnut Pile, Spinach, Walnut and Corn Mini Quiche, Kalimpong Chilli Cheese and Walnut Rolls and Jurassic Walnut Cheesecake and many others. 

Gorai says that nuts, in general, have always been a part of the Indian cuisine. They can be eaten as plain nuts or fried or used as garnishing or added to any recipe. Walnuts, along with its numerous health benefits, are also versatile. While creating a menu using the nuts, he said, “I have used walnuts in everyday food like Chiwda and Ghugni to show its versatility. In your dishes, you can replace cashew nuts or peanuts with walnuts.” Gorai also spoke about the food industry, trends, Indians aping the West and  global food wastage. 

Food trends
The trend of fusion food — mixing cultures and continents — has caught up. Gorai thinks the concept of fusion food is good as long as the chef knows what s/he is doing. “There are stages of food — from progressive to fusion and in the end, confusion. There is a fine line between fusion and confusion, and the chef should know what to do and where to stop. There also is a difference between progressive food and fusion food,” he adds. Giving an example Gorai says, “Cheese Rolls that I prepare is from locally sourced ingredients from different parts of the country. I have just got the elements together, that is progressive food.”

Aping the West
With more and more global flavours making inroads into the country and people making a beeline for it, where does the Indian palate stand? “The Indian palate, in general, is still the same. Nothing much has changed. The only thing is that we tend to ape the West,” he says. Be it chia seeds, flax seeds, amaranth or turmeric latte, they all came back in fashion only because the West went gaga over it. “It is imperative that we go back to our roots and recreate from our past and experiment with the food we have because we are a large country and have so much wealth,” says Gorai. 

Veganism
Gorai believes that veganism is a good thing. “The biggest crisis we soon will be facing is that of water. Analysts believe that by 2050 there will be 20 billion people on this planet. If we’re providing the cattle with litres and litres of water so that it produces milk for human consumption, then we won’t have any water left for us,” says Gorai. Apart from water shortage, the other problem is contamination of water. “Even if you know that the vegetables are grown in a good and clean environment, if the water that is supplied is contaminated, then the vegetables will also be contaminated,” he says. 

He believes that if people live solely on a plant-sourced diet, then they will be the healthiest, as long as the source and origin of the food is known. But Gorai also cautions over turning vegan because it is the trend. Not all body types are suited and one has to be careful and sure about one’s dietary choices. 

Food wastage
One of the biggest global problems is food wastage. Even small amounts of leftover food in our homes which is thrown away becomes a huge pile that can feed hungry souls. “Food can be saved only before the cooking process. Once cooked, nothing can be done. It’s all wastage then,” says Gorai adding that the amount of food wasted in Indian weddings is humongous. “If you ask your chef or caterer to prepare 20 dishes when probably only 5-6 are really needed, it is obviously going to lead to wastage.” 

Gorai also added that supermarkets across the world are the biggest wasters of food. “They just throw out a lot of things, raw food if it goes bad and packed food when it expires.” He also stressed on the fact that approximately 70 per cent of the world’s hungry people live in India in spite of the country producing food for over 2 billion people. “The main concerns we face are the middlemen and improper storage facilities that are unable to maintain the quality and shelf-life of food products.” 

To reduce food wastage, Gorai and his team have teamed up with supermarkets and major rice players in the country to distribute food and feed the hungry before it gets spoilt and has to be dumped in the garbage. So the next time you are cooking, double-check the quantity and make sure you are not cooking in excess.

ST READER SERVICE
California Walnut Festival is underway at Mineority By Saby, Kalyani Nagar, till September 30, from noon-1 am 

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