‘Oh! Must be your cheat day’, exclaimed an acquaintance looking at my plate full of wada and kaju usal, a Malwani delicacy. It’s made after soaking local grains overnight, letting them sprout, which enriches their Vit B content and makes it easy to knead this fibre-rich mixture into a dough. It is then deep-fried, ensuring that the wada has the necessary fat to allow the assimilation of minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients from it. Yes, some nutrients are only absorbed in the presence of fat.
Then there’s the kaju, the poor, tainted dry fruit for its non-existent ‘cholesterol’, while walnuts, almonds, pistachios get celebrated for their good fat. Well, no surprises for regular readers of this column—cashews are full of good fat and good for the heart. I didn’t eat this meal for the nutritional benefits, it’s just something I thought of because someone said ‘cheat day’. And cheating is usually associated with pastries, burgers etc, made of the worse kind of fat—flour stripped of all fibre and full of preservatives.
But what about the calories in the wada and kaju, you ask? Food will have calories and that’s a good thing, because calories is just a unit of energy and we all need energy. The point is good food has calories coming from nutrients and junk has ‘empty’ or nutrient-deprived calories.
And India has celebrated food that is beyond the idea of nutrients, which are filled with local flavour, uses timeless recipes and prepared for very special occasions. I was celebrating one such occasion with this food full of prana (life force) and if anything, I was blessing my body, not cheating it.