Updated on: Sunday, July 26, 2020, 06:36 AM IST

Vijay Shanker: Cooking is not easy as it is an art form that requires concentration

The ace Kuchipudi-kathakali dancer shares his childhood memories and his love for food


Due to the current lockdown scenario, those of you who are unable to maintain a strict diet regime, due to the unavailability of all fruits and vegetables, it is advisable to consume whatever is available provided it suits your taste and doesn't go against your diet. Every vegetable or fruit has its own quality and can be consumed by everybody but if you do not like the taste or odour of the particular fruit or vegetable, you may not consume the same.

According to the popular proverb "A healthy mind in a healthy body" signifies that if you take healthy food you will be happy and that could also improve your concentration and be successful in life. When I was a young boy I used to accompany my mother to the vegetable market, and observe as to how she would cleverly choose tender and fresh vegetables.

In order to make a tasty recipe it is important to have fresh and tender vegetables at your disposal and it is also important as to how you cut the vegetables in small pieces so that cooks faster and consume less gas. I used to watch my mummy cooking different recipes which were tasty and delicious. Cooking is not easy as it is an art form that requires concentration and you need to be careful and cautious, as you are dealing with fire and also while cutting vegetables you are likely to hurt yourself.

Well I was quite selective as far as eating particular vegetables are concerned but the doctor told me that I should eat all the vegetables that included bitter gourd (karela) which is very good for people suffering from digestive ailments. Gujaratis tend to mix a little bit of jaggery while cooking bitter gourd in order to reduce its bitterness.

The bitterness of bitter gourd is the strength and quality of this vegetable and not the weakness but ultimately depends on how you cook it. If tomatoes and onion is combined with bitter gourd then the bitterness is reduced to a great extent and the recipe becomes quite tasty as well. Many people feel that spicy food is tasty food, but I don't agree as with my experience of cooking you can make the recipe tasty without adding red chilly or lot of oil in it.

People who are suffering from piles and stomach ailments are advised not to consume spicy and oily food. During my formative years in journalism, I got addicted to drinking a lot of tea and avoiding meals or consuming them quite late, due to which I developed acidity problem. Few years back I had to go to the painful endoscopy, after which I was quite hungry and had to starve in order to go through this painful procedure.


Immediately after endoscopy I consumed oily dosa, which went against my constitution, thereby I was hospitalized with the intake of saline. The doctor advised me strictly to stay away from spicy, oily food, chocolates and coffee. While healthy food is essential for healthy growth of mind and body, not many people are aware of quality and insist on quantity as they are people who feel that If they have their stomach full of substantial meals they will get fine sleep. Ultimately it matters as to what you enjoy eating as eating healthy food is important for a healthy and long life.

(The writer is a professional kuchipudi-kathakali exponent, dance teacher, choreographer and an actor.)

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Published on: Sunday, July 26, 2020, 07:00 AM IST