India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Wine & Dine
May 15, 2017

Watch What You Eat With Danya Dhanak

Text by Zaral Shah. Photographs by Prateek Patel

“I definitely think that eating consciously is the new cool”

From business school and working at Goldman Sachs in New York to founding The India Edition, she has always been interested in learning about what goes into what she eats. Following Danya Dhanak’s time in the Big Apple, which played a major part in fuelling her passion for nutrition, discovering an ingredient and coming up with different ways to use it excites her the most. Our greatest challenge as a country, she believes, is that though the awareness exists, most people do not know what it means to have a wholesome diet.

“When I moved back from New York in 2014, I couldn’t find many restaurants or even the raw material required to make nutritious food at home. It would take effort to look for ingredients, and you wouldn’t be able to find everything from a regular store either. So, I decided to recreate some of the things that I liked to eat when I was in NYC and that’s how The India Edition came about. I just wanted to find ways to eat nutritious and balanced meals, but made with ingredients that are easily available in India, and which I wouldn’t have to search from pillar to post for.”

“Making new things with ingredients that I might not have associated with a particular dish inspires me. For example, I use oatmeal to make tarts, which is not really something that you might have normally thought of using, but I’ve done it to make things healthier while keeping the actual tart just as delicious. Every day, I try to come up with something like that.”

“Healthy is here to stay and it’s hopefully not going away. I’ve seen it in America — more people are constantly embracing it, to a point where maybe over there, it’s getting a little too much. But I definitely think that eating consciously is the new cool.”

“I don’t believe in the concept of a cheat day where you eat everything you want in one day. If you’re really craving something, for example a dessert, you should just eat it. If this happens too often, then you should find a way to make it healthier. It’s all about balance, if you eat butter on your toast, you should then maybe avoid a butter-based pasta sauce for dinner.”

“One of the biggest myths is that fats are unhealthy. I love avocado, and an extra drizzle of extra virgin olive oil can really change a dish. These things are actually good for you — they keep you full, they’re packed with nutrients, and are generally free of preservatives and other additives.”

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“One of my favourites is the guilt-free fudgy almond cookie. It’s based completely on almonds and is perfect for people on a gluten-free diet. The other one is a wholewheat pasta and broccoli, and what I call almond parmesan. I came up with the latter because I really like how some dishes have this crumbly topping…but I wanted to use something other than bread. The third is definitely my molten chocolate cake — my favourite recipe. It’s gluten-free and includes chocolate, an eternal favourite.”

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