I started keto with no hope,
Like I am pulling a rope,
With no strength and no fear,
And not regretting each and every tear.
I couldn’t see it working immediately,
but then not one had worked lately.
I was patient and persistent,
Willing to stick and be consistent,
I started measuring my food with a scale,
So that I don’t again fail.
And then with each day passing,
I could see a different me,
Which I couldn’t earlier find and see.
The pandemic turned home chef and keto consultant Rahul Kamra into a poet. He takes turns between cooking and writing. His specialisation is keto diet dishes which he now serves with a side of poetry and prose. “It’s a new creative dimension for me. Reading and writing poems have sharpened my imagination, and helped me to become more resourceful in the kitchen. Poetry’s appeal is that it is descriptive and rhythmic. Little did I know that it would shape my culinary vision and push me to experiment new recipes,” says Kamra.
When the home chef shared his work on social media, people took notice. It got him new customers, too. Drawn to the way he expresses his love for food, people called in to know more. He explains, “I got a chance to share the merits of a ketogenic diet, along with clearing doubts and busting myths. I educated people about the various ingredients used.”
Right on top is the cauliflower. “A good source of antioxidants, cauliflower contains Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, potassium and magnesium. It is high in fibre and is popular as a low-carb alternative to grains and legumes. Cauliflower can be grated to make cauli rice. It is a delicious pizza base. It adds gravitas to risotto, vegetable au gratin, casserole, and lasagna. It can be turned into a puree, a sauce or a mash,” he adds. Next on his list of most-loved ingredients is cheese. Kamra is a huge fan of cheddar and mozzarella. “Mozzarella being a sticky cheese works best with almond flour or coconut flour to make a pizza base.
Cheddar, on the other hand, can be used in a simple-to-make cheese cracker. Use cheese as garnish in keto dishes,” he says, sharing a quick recipe. “Take salted butter, fresh whipped cream and cheddar. Put it together to make a delectable cheese sauce that can be the base for several keto dishes.” Basil, the most underrated herb according to Kamra, comes next in his repertoire. “People use basil essentially to make pesto sauce. But it is one of the best garnishes. In a salad it can prop up the lettuce. If a keto dish needs sweetness, add basil. Layer biryani with basil and you will never eat without it,” says Kamra.
Go nuts over nuts, he laughs. Almonds and peanuts can be turned into flour and milk. Almond milk, a popular choice for vegans and keto diet followers, is made by soaking almonds overnight. Almond flour can be made by peeling and then roasting almonds. It is a great replacement for quesadillas and tortilla wraps. Use peanuts in Khao Suey or coat them on dark chocolate. Make energy bars, or a peanut drizzle for grilled meats. Boil and convert peanuts into a paste to create a base for soups.
Lastly, you’ll always find zucchini in Kamra’s kitchen. It makes for delicious lasagne sheets. “Let me give you one of the easiest ways of using zucchini. Make little boats by trimming the ends and cutting them lengthwise, and pan-fry them and top them up with sautéed meat or a mix of vegetables in marinara sauce.” Zucchini sticks taste great with guacamole.
Chef’s Top Three
Chicken Gravy A dish with no tomatoes. It has sautéed onions turned into a smoky gravy. Best accompanied with cauli rice.
Keto Nawabi Paneer Tikka Made with a marination of nutmeg, curd, fresh cream and ginger-garlic paste, topped with lemon juice and green chillies.
Keto Almond Halwa Almond flour, almond milk and cream is reduced down to a version of a milk cake. The brownish smoky texture with the added sweetness of stevia, makes it a delicious dessert.
● Works as anti-inflammatory
● Balances cholesterol levels
● Stabilises blood sugar levels
● Lowers insulin resistance
● Improves cognitive functions
Ketogenic Cauli Mushroom Risotto
Ingredients for cauli mash
● Cauliflower-150 gm
● Parmesan cheese-20 gm
● Add grated cauliflower to the cheese sauce and top it up with Parmesan cheese.
Ingredients for cheese Sauce
● Butter-40 gm
● Cream-40 gm
● Cheese-40 gm
● Salt (only if you are using unsalted butter)
● Pepper-a pinch
● Add butter to a hot pan
● Add cheese and fresh cream. Mix it with a spatula making an eight-shape.
● Add herbs or oregano and let the sauce come to a thick consistency
Ingredients for garlic mushroom sauce
● Button mushrooms-75 gm
● Garlic-5-6 pods
● Onions-20 gm
● Salt to taste
● Pepper to taste
● Bay leaf-1
● Olive oil-20ml
● Sauté peppercorns and bay leaf with olive oil, and add chopped onions and garlic
● Add chopped mushrooms and salt and pepper
● Keep 25 gm mushrooms aside to add to the purée
● Purée it well and make it into a paste, remove the bay leaf
● Mix the purée with the separate sautéed mushrooms, putting it all together
● Make a cauli mash bed on the plate and then gently make a well in the centre. Add the mushrooms and a basil/parsley/dill leaves as garnish.
● Drizzle soya sauce and red pepper sauce as garnish
In this new biweekly series, we speak to home chefs about what they’re cooking, the ingredients they love and recipes one must try