11 food commandments for the mindful you

I started cooking after marriage, and it has been almost nine years in the making. Every year, I try to cook healthier food, however, there’s a big scope of improvement here. In the coming year, that is, 2020, I want to eat healthy, not just cook healthy. That is my most-needed food commandment. Feeding the family has been a priority, but I need to take care of my diet first, as only then can I do the rest of my tasks well.

Coming to the topic, I really want to inspire you to think wisely before taking in any food trends. We are what we eat; let’s not go overboard with that ice-cream tub or those tid-bit packets. Here are some food ideas you can ponder on.

1. Drink well

Be it water, cinnamon water, apple cider vinegar water or just a shot glass of lemon water, our main source of oxygen comes from water. And I’m taking about water stored in earthen or steel tumblers, not the plastic bottles stored in the fridge. Also, you want to sit and sip your water.

2. Include raw food

Whether it is your breakfast or lunch, make sure you have some raw food in form of salad, vegetable juice, sprouts, etc, in your day diet. This will round up your overall diet with oxidants, nutrients, and fibre—all must-have to deal with your gut health.

3. Soak/Ferment before you sleep

It’s always a better idea to soak your legumes/pulses in the night to have them cook in the morning. This will act like an add-on to the goodness of your food. Furthermore, my mother always suggests me to soak nuts and dried fruits. Be it almonds, walnuts, raisins—soak ahead in time. A handful of nuts are enough for your health. Whenever I tend to have a lack of iron on some days, I have half a cup of strained jaggery water and feel more strength in my overall emotional and physical health. Before going to bed, you can set your curd too. Homemade curd, especially set in glass containers, is better for you, instead of those plastic tubs of store-made ones.

4. Mind the condiments

Herbs like mint and coriander leaves, spices like black pepper and cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, lemon and tamarind—all these things add more flavours to your food and make it healthier too. Don’t just treat them as something to garnish with. These will keep vitamin C and other nutrients in check that will help you fight infections.

5. Make junk food at home

One of the food rules I follow is to make my favourite junk food at home. Whether it is Pani Puri, noodles, pizzas, or masala Dosa, at home, I can assure the ingredients are properly washed and safe to eat. The sodium, grains, etc. can be checked at home unlike the street stalls.

6. Invest on good quality food

Be it your chocolate, dates, noodles, artisanal bread, sauces, seeds or basic, organic food—never compromise with the quality. Buy something that has no preservatives or chemicals, and that will again benefit your health when compared to commercially available food items.

7. Share your food

When you feed your helper at home and your neighbours, you are seldom left with leftovers in the fridge. And this will encourage you to eat fresh. Don’t wait for the food to go stale to distribute it. I see that some people to respect the food that they make, store every bit of it in the fridge and have it till it changes colour. And when it is not at all edible, they plan to throw it or give it to the poor. My mom highly discourages it. When you’re done eating, try to distribute the food within two-three hours, so that your next meal is freshly made.

8. Less oil, sodium, sugar!

Some people like to sprinkle black salt or normal table salt on their salads, curd dishes, and whatnot. Instead, add salt while you cook the food. Try substitutes like lemon juice or natural vinegars. Same rule goes for oil and sugar. Cook with less oil; you can add a few teaspoons of water to cook faster. Lastly, go easy on sugar. This will keep you alert and make you a mindful eater.

9. Switch grains

Relying on only wheat flour the entire week is a dull idea for sure. Explore more grains. Bring in jowar, bajra, rice varieties and more. Your piping hot and soft wheat phulkas are full of gluten, so why not go gluten-free for a day? Plus, if you eat these, your kids will start appreciating these too. For example, Bajra roti is not easy to chew, but with time, you start enjoying these hard rotis. And when your kid sees this, he or she will learn to appreciate it too.

10. Check on the pantry and fridge

My mother always says there’s no point in eating spoiled. Keep a tab on what might go bad in the next few days and consume it at the earliest, be it your veggies or flours. You can’t be keeping it for days altogether. Everything in the kitchen has an expiry date.

11. Shop local

When I visit the grocery bus in my condominium, I always end up picking more seasonal fruits and vegetables. I get ideas right there (plus some old and new recipes) and I might also feel like experimenting. Your mobile screens won’t offer you that. Finally, when I shop for my grocery, I almost always end up picking the fresh produce. When shopping online, you have no choice but to eat what gets delivered to your doorstep.

An old melody


I’m at my mum’s place these days, as mum wants to buy my outfits for my brother’s wedding that’s coming up next month. But I have decided to stay back for more as we need to take care of the Sangeet (one of the most important wedding functions for us). From selecting the songs to convincing the family members that things would be all right at the Sangeet, there is a lot that needs to be looked into.

Today, however, the best part came when I got to know that the ladies of the family (who are in the same city) need to make badis to mark the start of the wedding festivities in the house. When my mum announced this to me in the morning, I was delighted as making badis in the morning or noon sunlight on the terrace is something I could recollect from my childhood. I absolutely loved it as a kid when mum used an old cotton saree to make badis. Never did I care about its recipe, but it was just her and one of my aunts drying the badis in the sun and the whole thing never ever looked tedious to me.


Mum soaked 1.25 (an auspicious number for such important events) kg of yellow moong dal for a few hours, and made its paste with a dash of turmeric powder. We took the paste in a white tub, a big spoon, a small copper jug (with water and mango leaves), and a copper plate (with kumkum powder and rice) for a little pooja (prayer) that was supposed to be done before making the badis. Now, not always do we perform the little pooja, but because this activity was only a signal of the start of the wedding preparations, the pooja had to be done. Each lady got a tikka on her forehead (with soaked kumkum powder and rice grains). There were a few plastic covers that we spread at one of the corners of the terrace that had some shadow. Then, there were those plastic airtight bags, a pair of scissor, a small piece of jaggery and a bottle of oil that neighbour aunty suggested to spread on the red plastic sheet before making badis.

Soon, the ladies started singing songs for lord Ganesha and drawing the badis. Some ladies drew broken lines and some of them created dots with the dal paste that was filled in the zip-lock plastic bags. The scissor was used to create a small hole before adding the paste though. These badis were supposed to be kept in the sun for the entire day. In the end of little activity, one of my aunts gave little jaggery blocks (decorated with gota lace) as a token to thank them.


Later in the evening, mum, dad and I went to the terrace and brought all the badis home. The badis had sticked well on the plastic, so we had to use a knife to remove them quickly.

In Jaiselmer, we use badis in sabzis like Papad ki sabzi, Gawar fali badi kachari ki sabzi, etc. All ladies of my family have a bottle of badi in their kitchens. And somehow, it’s always considered auspicious. I’m assuming one of the reasons could be the many health benefits of moong dal.

Whatever the case might be, I’m always curious to know what happened in the kitchen when my mum and beloved aunts were growing up as kids. How tough their life must be and but, yet so beautiful. “Oh, we had no money. We never had the luxury of unlimited and family food. But we were still happy. Not like these days where people are always dissatisfied with whatever they get to eat,” says my aunt, whom we call Bhua (my dad’s sister). These days, there are endless kitchen products available in the stores that we fascinate for. I wonder who fascinates homemade things like badis.