Rustling up a raw feast

Milk halwa  

Concocting a nutritionally-adequate diet made of raw foods is simple enough. One could breakfast on a big smoothie of fruits and veggies, snack on tender coconuts, lunch on a crisp salad of vegetables and nuts, and sip on another smoothie for dinner. However, is it possible to put together a tasty, multi-course spread made of raw food products? Well, Chennai-born and now Los Angeles-based nutritional consultant and raw food guru, Smriti Kirubanandan, suggests that this is very much possible.

The question pops up: what is a feast without tangy tastes and flavours? Can raw food match up to the range of sumptuous cooked cuisine avaliable? “The flavours of uncooked food are pretty much the same as that of cooked food”, assures Smriti, who owns a raw vegan dessert company, ‘Foods Alive’. She explains that in raw food meals, we use the same spices, citrus flavours, sea salts, sweeteners, sour ingredients, etc. to recreate the flavours of cooked food. “The texture may vary, but the idea is to mimic cooked food,” says Smriti. For instance, she arrived at a vegan version of ‘Indian Yogurt Rice’ with shredded cabbage as a rice substitute, along with cashew cheese, lemon juice, salt, coconut oil and other ingredients. Incredibly, this dish can be prepared in 15 minutes flat.

Meanwhile, in her to-be-published maiden book ‘Foods Alive’, Smriti outlines recipes for several raw food dishes that carry a very Indian taste — from smoothies, soups, juices, desserts, and quick eats to main courses. The recipes include the likes of cauliflower curry, eggplant chips, chaat salad to oatmeal-raisin cookies, chocolate cake, rice milk and cashew cheese. “There can be great outcomes by combining eastern and western flavours too,” says Smriti.

So, what is the kitchen equipment needed to put together a raw food feast? A blender, juicer, food processor and dehydrator can be useful. For the uninitiated, a dehydrator is a machine with three to nine trays on which food is gently warmed using circulating air. There is no flame or extreme heat as with an oven. Instead, the temperature generally starts around 105˚F and goes up to 115˚F. “A dehydrator can be used to make raw crackers, raw chips, raw bread, raw soup, and more,” shares Smriti.

Is there any contraindication for setting off on a raw food journey? To begin with, there is the obvious fact that while eating raw foods, using clean water and kitchen cleanliness, and opting for pesticide-free, organic foods are fundamental commandments. Smriti further says, “People who have gastrointestinal problems like leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or ulcers should be careful while eating raw food. As living foods are easier to digest, it may trigger these problems and make one more gassy and uncomfortable. If you are diabetic, you can eat fruits, but stick to a minimum amount and increase your green intake.” 

She adds, “Everyone is different. No one has to be 100% raw or vegan. The point is to add more living foods to our diet and stay happy. Among the different raw-food diets, it’s up to you to pick which one works best for you, depending on your body type, health conditions and other factors.”

Finally, how about a raw food recipe a beginner could start off with? “Green juices or smoothies are the easiest raw meal to start off with. Like, say, a green juice made from celery, apples, cilantro, spinach and ginger or a smoothie of coconut water, banana, dates and almonds. India is blessed with a tropical climate, providing it with abundant fruits and vegetables. You have so many live foods to choose from!”



For cashew cheese

1 cup cashews, soaked

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon probiotic powder (Rejuvelac or Bio-K+)

For marinade

2 tablespoons cashew cheese

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon onion powder

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

For rice

1/2 cabbage, shredded

2 cups dinosaur kale (chiffonaded)

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt


First make the cashew cheese, by soaking the cashews for eight hours in a cup of distilled water. Drain the water.

In a blender, mix the cashews with half cup water and probiotic powder. Pour the mixture into a piece of cheesecloth placed in a small basket. Put a small weight on top and let it rest for three hours. Transfer the cheese to a glass jar and store in the refrigerator.

To make the marinade, combine the cashew cheese with the other ingredients and mix well. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes.

To make the rice, use a food processor to shred the cabbage.

Chiffonade the kale (a leafy green) gently. If kale is not available, use carrots or spinach or other greens. 

Transfer the cabbage and kale to a big bowl and mix with lemon juice and salt. Massage the ingredients for three minutes. To assemble, add the other ingredients to the rice mixture and massage again for three minutes and then serve.

Note that this entrée should not be dehydrated. It should be sour, watery, and creamy.


Add jalapeño sauce for a kick.

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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 1:11:03 AM |

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