Thai Prawn Salad at The Purobeach Conrad and Icelollies refreshing summer dessert without added sugar

Thai Prawn Salad ©

Thai Prawn Salad ©

A Blog is like a fantasy lover- like the one you read about in fairy tales and that is why I love to have it in my life….however long I stay away from it, it waits for me to come back and then when I finally do, it looks back at me, as if to ask – so where have you been, love? I just look to the left and then to the  right, too vain to deliver an apology but all ready to pick the pieces, to start afresh and keep this love affair going  – I love you blog, all I need to do is write you and you will stay mine. So let me tell you bits of what all transpired since…Here goes-

I actually grew up  very nonathletic, my natural tendency had been to hit the couch and do whatever required the least physicality, but past few months have been the most active that I have ever been, with regular training from September 2013 to Jan 2014 with two fabulous running clubs here – The Dubai Striders and Dubai Road Runners, I ran my first half marathon at the Yas Island in AbuDhabi followed by my first full marathon in Dubai this January. I have been swimming regularly and have recently joined stroke improvement lessons with Hamilton Aquatics. So I am doubly certain now of the fact that what you eat, determines how you feel and how active your body and brain want and allow you to be. I have also been playing tennis so you can see why this couch potato is so happy and not so apologetic.

I am also proud to say, that what started off as a diet in November 2012 has transformed the way I view food and the way I eat, eating real, healthy, natural food  is now more of a lifestyle rather than a time bound diet. What this does – is that it helps me to maintain a healthy weight so that I can focus on building core strength, endurance and muscle rather than only thinking about losing weight.

Eating out has become tougher though, it is odd how the food in general has become so dependent on the three ingredients that make most restaurant food unpalatable because of being loaded with more harmful type of both carbs and fats, the three ingredients being- sugar (in all various aliases and avatars- sucrose, fructose, hi fructose corn syrup, dextrose etc etc) wheat (both whole and refined) and unhealthy fats (alias hydrogenated vegetable oils and unsaturated refined oils like soybean, sunflower, corn, canola etc. etc.)
But being rigid and pedantic is not how I wish to be, I do not wish to write off the pleasure of eating out from my life…so when I go out to eat instead of writing off everything as I don’t eat this and I don’t eat that, I talk to my servers and try to focus on relatively carb free recipes and ingredients that describe the dish and pick out those that minimize my three villains. I recently had a great experience tasting an amazing such dish- which the menu described as the ‘Thai Prawn salad’. Before I write more about this dish, let me tell you the story…

I work with Unilever and just last week we had a launch conference at the Conrad Hotel in Dubai, the starting time was in the middle of the afternoon and I got there totally famished as I hadn’t had lunch. The usual conference fare of cookies, croissants and pastries with tea and coffee were all lined up so I had to go get some ‘real’ lunch in one of the places there so me and two of my other colleagues headed to this poolside bar and restaurant called The Purobeach rightly subtitled as the Urban Oasis, despite being located in a buzzing Dubai business hotel, Purobeach has a tranquil tropical feel with overgrown plants, trees, small waterfalls in the pool and friendly tattooed waiters wearing wraparound pyjamas.

Scanning through the menu, my eyes rested on- ‘Thai Prawn Salad- Mixed Lettuce, sautéed prawns with curry, slices of coconut, spring onions, avocado, cherry tomatoes and mango chutney’. The ingredients sounded like heaven, so sipping on a Corona, soon I was waiting for my Thai Prawn salad that I must say was every bite delightful. The prawns were chargrilled (not sautéed) to perfection with flavors of creamy curried marinade and smoky chargrilling bringing out the happiness inside that can only come in the middle of such a workday afternoon, the salad was fresh and crunchy with a vinaigrette, mustard twang. The mango chutney was also lovely with a spicy sweetness. So Before leaving, I left a note for the chef thanking him for the delicious lunch and a request to teach me the art of crafting that very salad. I left my number on the note and guess what one afternoon I had a chance to cook the Thai Prawn Salad with the amazing Chef Ravi. Chef Ravi is from Chennai, he completed his Hotel management degree from India. He cooks a variety of different cuisines at the Conrad and likes to create fusion food. If you are in Dubai and are looking for a motivating beautiful lunch in the middle of a hectic work day stop by at The PuroBeach in Conrad and try the Thai Prawn Salad with a bottle of Corona!

A meal thoroughly enjoyed ©

A meal thoroughly enjoyed ©

I would have shared the lovely recipe, but I am sorry I cannot as this is a recipe from the restaurant, instead I am sharing my lip smacking slurpy ice lolly recipe from my book Accessory Recipes for Magical Mealtimes. My kids absolutely love it and I don’t mind it because it is without added synthetic sugars and bursting with Vitamin C and antioxidants so try it!

Strawberry and Blueberry Ice Lollies- Refreshing summer dessert

Ice lollies  devoid of synthetic sugars ©

Ice lollies devoid of synthetic sugars ©


for 14 servings of 32g each

250g Strawberries

1/2 cup frozen Blueberries

1/2 cup Pineapple juice

Wooden Ice Cream Stick and Ice Trays

Put the berries and the juice in a blender and blend till you get a smooth liquid. Pour the berry syrup in a clean ice tray. Let the trays rest in the freezer for half an hour. Take the trays out and stick the wooden sticks upright  in the center of each slush compartment. Freeze again.

Bring out icy slurps out whenever you the summer is overwhelming you.

Play with various ice shapes.

added fun without added sugars ©

added fun without added sugars ©



Lauki-Pistachio Caramel Barfi- Grain free, refined sugar free Diwali sweets/In conversation with Sanjeev Kapoor/ A few bits about health and vertical kebab iskanders

Lauki Pistachio Caramel Barfi

Lauki Pistachio Caramel Barfi

Ask for a name of a  chef in India,  I would be surprised if there are many answers other than the name of Sanjeev Kapoor, the face that a lot of us in India grew up watching on mom’s pet TV channel stirring-up yet another recipe. I had a chance to meet this timeless Indian chef just last week in Dubai. He was here to launch the new menu of his restaurant called Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor. My reasons for meeting him were actually led by a perception.

IMG_5757 IMG_5756

While growing up, when  I saw him on his TV show called Khana Khazana, he always seemed to have a few extra pounds on him however lately my perception of him was of that of a leaner and relatively fitter person.

vs. Sanjeev Kapoor

Sanjeev Kapoor

and so I thought it would be a good idea to meet him and find out what was his mantra to keep his energy levels and improve fitness levels  despite ageing and all the delicacies that he cooked. Was he also counting calories or did he have a secret card up his sleeve?

So I gushed at my chance- “We have seen you change, you have lost a lot of weight and you did stuff that was outside your comfort zone, I remember this dance show that you participated in on TV (yes, he did one). I personally believe that not just physical health but the will and the courage to try new things is somewhere related to how and what you eat. How do you translate your healthy eating habits in your recipes and what are your top tips to those food lovers who would like to stay lean and strong?” ( I have even written about this connection of food with improved will to move before).

My enthusiasm tanked when he said that he had not lost any weight! But what he said later was interesting… he said that your body is yours so the important thing is to know your body and listen to it. What suits you and what doesn’t, you need to know it, remember it and heed to it.

I agree with him wholeheartedly on this one. I think, all of us can name that one person, who seems to be able to eat anything that can be referred to as food, without gaining as much as an inch, while the others claim to count their breaths as they put anything in their mouths and still have bursting waistlines.

Why some people have a tendency to gain more weight, even if they eat the same food?

The difference in individual response to food stems from the difference in people’s Insulin resistance, a condition when our body becomes less responsive to the effects of insulin and starts to ask for more insulin to get the same job done (I.e. utilization of same amount of blood glucose). More insulin leads to increased hunger pangs and it also favors conversion of any excess sugar to body fat. Read more about this here.

However, I quickly steered the discussion away from health to ask him three culinary questions- two that I wanted to ask and the third that my sister wanted to ask.

My first question was – how to consistently get soft and juicy kebabs every single time even when cooked in an oven rather than on a charcoal grill or a tandoor? Those that are not hard and bland but always soft and juicy- what were his top tips?

My sister’s question was – How to turn egg recipes into vegetarian by substituting eggs?

My third question was about ideas for making some super healthy Diwali treats.

Some tenacious readers will find the answers quite helpful so here they go –

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