Year, Year

Shabnam Minwalla | Updated on January 11, 2019 Published on January 11, 2019

Message in a bottle: If we have to drink eight glasses of water anyway, why not go for detox water?   -  Getty Images/iStockphoto

A (fairly) easy and appetising resolution list that doesn’t call for a personality transplant

Don’t you love the feel of a new notebook or diary? Of turning to the first page and starting afresh?

The early days of January are like that pristine page. Free of blots and unsightly cancellations. Crisp with the promise of new beginnings. A time to fill diaries, hang calendars, recall lessons learnt and make resolutions. And then hope that these intentions remain bright at least till Republic Day — maybe even all the way till Diwali.

This year, I think my resolutions will survive. The new, improved, practical me has adopted a new, improved, practical approach to life. In 2019, instead of my usual lofty goals — “exercise more”, “keep calm”, ta-da — I’m sticking to what can be counted, ticked off, achieved without a personality transplant. I’m sticking to resolutions involving food.

As soon as the New Year dawned, my mailbox filled up with missives from food sites. Some shuddered over the pizza wedding bouquets and broccoli-infused coffees; the black croissants and violet lattes that marked 2018. Others predicted that 2019 would be a year of hemp-enhanced candies and grazing tables. While still others threw up food resolutions that I read with a reformer’s zeal — and then discarded with disappointment

With all the best intentions in the world, I’m not likely to bake cakes made of arrowroot and coconut flour and adopt a Paleo diet (using ingredients available to our hunter-gatherer ancestors in the Paleolithic age). Nor am I likely to knead my way through a loaf of quinoa and chia bread. Or switch overnight to oat milk. Or spike my kheer with CBD — not even if this wildly popular by-product of cannabis promises a mellow mood and debatable health benefits.

No, the borrowed resolutions just won’t work for me. Which is why I’ve come up with a Mumbai-friendly list of my own:

1. One new recipe a week

It’s irritatingly easy to get stuck in a rut. For example, my daughters discover a passion for fried squid and gobble it with gusto. I’m thrilled. It’s an easy treat and I gratefully make it every week. And then, without warning, one of my three girls snorts, “Huh! Why are we eating this every single day?”

To which I say — very reasonably and calmly — “Firstly, it’s not every single day. Secondly, you said it was your favourite food ever?”

Only to get an expert eye-roll and icy retort in response, “That was before you started making it every day.”

By this point I’m a great deal less reasonable and calm.

The solution, I’ve decided, is to find one new recipe a week. Think about it. If even one out of two is a hit, I’ll have 25 fun recipes and three smiling faces. Hopefully.

2. Hold on to the successes

In an age of cut-and-paste without the mess of glue, virtual bookmarks and save-your-favourite recipe sites, there’s simply no excuse for being disorganised. How then do I not know whether the recipe I tried last week was honey sriracha chicken or garlic sriracha chicken?

Where did I find that magnificent recipe of chocolate caramel crack that the girls are determined to bake again?

How could I lose that life-saving recipe for shredded Mexican chicken that I happened upon after so many trials and errors? The one that works so well, rolled up with guacamole, salsa and sour cream, in a wheat tortilla (also known as a chapati).

Now I’ll have to surf for ages, experiment endlessly and cross my fingers tight. All because I didn’t spend those extra eight seconds and bookmark the recipe in the first place.

3. Check kitchen cupboards

Before launching into new recipes — and the expensive, space-consuming ingredients that often accompany them — I plan to take an inventory of my herbs, sauces and spices. To figure out what to do with the bottle of miso paste and that salty green powder that I mistook for matcha at the Tokyo airport, not to mention the peri peri sauce XXX hot that arrived instead of plain old hot.

The wonderful part about cooking in 2019 is that you can find recipes to match your ingredients — rather than the other way round. So now I’m on a mission to empty my shelves, before filling them with new goodies such as gochujang and sambal oelek. (Can’t wait!)

4. Make pitchers of detox water

The health-benefit-types are in a tangle over those pretty jugs of water, bobbing with fruit, lemon wedges, cucumber slices and mint leaves.

Do they actually help you lose weight? Or reduce inflammation? Or make your skin glow? Don’t know. But anything that looks so ornamental and tastes so summery has to be a good thing. And if we have to drink eight glasses of water anyway, why not feel happy and elegant while doing so?

5. More veggies

I’m frantic to introduce more veggies into my daughters’ diets. I’m planning to start with ramen noodles with miso pesto. (Please, no one tell them the dish involves spinach.)

Some things are not meant to be green.

Time for a confession. The first time I heard about croissants made with activated charcoal I got pretty excited. Just as I did when I heard about chocolate hummus. Then I ordered a plate of kale waffles and lived to regret the day.

The waffles turned out to be the vivid green of AstroTurf. They were crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and perfect in every way — except that they tasted bitter, leafy and just plain wrong.


This year I’m determined not to be swayed by mad fads and to remember that hummus is meant to be salty-lemony-nutty; gherkins are meant to flavour sandwiches, not ice creams; waffles are meant to be yummy, not healthy.

That part we can leave to the detox water.

Shabnam Minwalla is a journalist and author. Her latest book is What Maya Saw

Ramen noodles with miso pesto
  • While hunting for a recipe that would use up my miso paste, I found this on the BonAppetit website. It takes care of resolutions 1, 3 and 5. (Though I’m wondering whether to blanch the spinach leaves before tossing them into the blender.)
  • Ingredients:
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 cups cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Salt
  • 5 oz ramen noodles (regular noodles will do as well)
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • Method:
  • 1 Purée spinach, cilantro, miso, garlic, both oils, and lemon juice in a blender until mixture is smooth. Season with salt.
  • 2 Cook noodles. Drain and add to bowl with pesto. Add butter and toss until butter is melted and noodles are coated in sauce.

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Published on January 11, 2019
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