For Shreyaa Shah, who travelled the world as a child and was raised between Delhi, Nepal and the picturesque district of Tehri Garhwal in Uttarakhand, food and fitness were the two greatest joys she discovered early on.
From the age of 16, she began doing aerobics (“Those were the Jane Fonda days,” she chuckles), while experimenting with health food at the same time. As fate would have it, she married into a “foodie” household, where she learnt to cook an array of gourmet dishes.
When she was 20, Shreyaa decided to make a career as a fitness trainer. She noticed that even people who exercised to stay fit were often eating the wrong foods that would achieve the opposite of their goal.
“The notion that healthy food involved two sticks each of carrot and celery with a little olive oil and sea salt drizzled on it needed to go,” she says. So she decided to change that.
After decades of cooking and armed with a Cordon Bleu certification from Thailand, Shreyaa started her own small home catering business called Shreyaa’s Kitchen in 2011. Since then, her business has grown by word of mouth, and caters to all kinds of events from six to 100 persons.
She’s well known for her healthy and innovative cuisine – ranging from Asian to European, vegan to barbeque, soups to desserts – and her penchant for organically grown ingredients.
“It is important for everyone to at least know the basics of healthy cooking,” says Shreyaa. “That’s why I offer cooking classes for people to get over their fears of cooking and realise that it’s not rocket science!”
She’s also sought-after for her domestic-staff training course, through which she teaches domestic helpers how to plan menus, balance food groups, and make fresh, delicious and hygienic well-plated meals, thus upgrading their home cooking skills. And she also makes her own range of homemade pastes and sauces that are preservative-free and gluten-free.
“Health is not just about fitness; it’s about mental, physical and spiritual balance,” says the young chef, who did a course in permaculture last year, and follows sustainable waste-management methods. “The role of seasonal vegetables is very important to me. I want to get more involved with organic farms close by to add more of such produce to my kitchen,” she shares.
She shares four fantastic Thai recipes that abound in good health and taste too.
All recipes and photographs courtesy Shreyaa’s Kitchen
THAI GREEN CURRY WITH VEGETABLES
3 tbsp. Shreyaa’s Kitchen Green Curry paste
1tbsp vegetable oil
4 cups coconut milk
Vegetables (broccoli, snow peas, peas, mushrooms cut into small pieces, blanched)
1 tsp cumin powder, roasted and ground
1 big red chilli, angle sliced
4 kaffir lime leaves sliced in very thin juliennes
15 leaves sweet basil, chopped
½ cup coriander leaves, chopped
2 tbsp. fish sauce / soy sauce
1tbsp. palm sugar
Salt to taste
- In a saucepan on medium heat add vegetable oil, red curry paste, cumin powder and stir for 2–3 minutes.
- Add coconut milk little by little and then add eggplants. Boil for a minute.
- Add seasoning, kaffir lime leaves and red chilli.
- When the curry boils, add the blanched vegetables and sweet basil leaves.
- Garnish with coconut cream, sliced red chilies and coriander leaves.
MISO SOUP WITH GREENS AND TOFU
1 cup fresh vegetable stock made with carrot, onion potato, celery, garlic and ginger
50-100 gm chopped greens (bok choy, spinach or any other greens of your choice)
50-100 gm chopped green onions (light and dark green parts only)
50-100 gm extra firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
1-2 tbsp miso (fermented soybean paste, any type) (brown miso stronger than white)
- Place stock in a sauce pan and boil.
- Reduce heat, add greens and simmer for 5–7 minutes.
- Next, put in tofu.
- In the meantime, place 3 tbsp of miso into a small bowl, add a little hot water and whisk until smooth. Then add 1 tsp of miso first, taste and if you need more miso, add little by little. Remove the pan from the heat before the miso soup boils again. And add the bok choy back into the pan.
- Garnish with green onions.
- Serve hot.
PAD THAI NOODLES
½ packet Pad Thai noodles
½ cup green onions, cut long and fine
¼ cup tofu, cut into small cubes pan-fried
1 cup bean sprouts, fresh
2-3 tbsp peanuts, roasted and crushed
Garnish with fried garlic and Togarashi powder
For the paste:
5 tbsp tamarind paste, heaped
3 tbsp palm sugar or jaggery powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp Sriracha sauce
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
- Make a thick paste using non-spicy, whole dried red chillies soaked in water overnight. Cook all the ingredients together in a pan until the paste becomes thick and is of slightly sticky consistency (can be stored in bottle for future use also).
- Take about ½ a packet of noodles and soak them in cold water for half an hour. Add pan fried tofu, evenly browned.
- Add the soaked, drained noodles.
- Add the paste and mix well till all the ingredients are mixed well with the noodles. Use as much as you require to coat the noodles.
- Sprinkle green onions, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts and fried garlic over the noodles and serve.
3 tbsp Shreyaa’s Kitchen Khow Suey paste
3 tbsp gram powder, roasted mixed in well in 3 tbsp coconut milk
1 tbsp oil
4 cups coconut milk
1 tbsp roasted cumin powder
1-2 tsp salt to taste
½ cup chopped coriander
Juice of 3 lemons
1 cup chicken, shredded, boiled
1 cup shrimp, blanched
1 cup peas, blanched
1 cup cauliflower, chopped, blanched
1 cup carrot, chopped, blanched
1 cup mushroom, sliced, blanched
3-4 onion, deep fried to a dark brown
15 pods garlic, sliced and fried
6 tbsp ginger, finely chopped and fried
Chopped spring onions
Boiled egg whites, grated
Red chilli powder to taste
Green chilli, chopped (optional)
150 gm egg noodles, boiled
4 spring onions, chopped
- Add the paste and sauté for 2 minutes. Add coconut milk, gram flour and boil for 20 minutes.
- Season with salt, cumin and add grated coconut. If using chicken then add the chicken and cook till tender or add blanched vegetables. Turn off the gas and add the lemon juice. Garnish with chopped coriander.
- Boil noodles and drain.
- Serve noodles in one dish, curry in another and all accompaniments in small bowls around the curry. Place soup bowls for individual serving.