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No oil no boil — raw food restaurant serves superfoods

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In the midst of an explosion of exotic food fads and Internet gourmet gurus, Chennai’s own Kannamma Neelakandan flips all our assumptions about food on their head — by serving delicious, multi-course meals without cooking!

On the outskirts of the city in Pallikaranai, her ‘No Oil and No Boil Restaurant’, which boasts of fitness gurus, athletes and senior citizens among its regular clients, dishes out sumptuous platefuls of food thrice a day — none of which are cooked, or contain oil but consist of exotic ingredients such as lotus flowers and sprouts apart from traditional rice and millet varieties.

The hotel’s breakfast menu consists of mappillai  samba, karrupu kauni (black rice) stews,  pure malli white pongal, karrupu kauni kozhukkattai (dumplings), samba paniyaram, bottle gourd noodles, sirumani idli, banana flower vada, peanut laddoos, sesame laddoos and sprouted naripaiyar…. The list on her board is as comprehensive as it is delicious.

Cooking green vegetables completely wastes the nutrients in them. If the vegetables are not cooked and consumed naturally without oil, the body will get the required nutrients in full

The 16-item lunch thali comes with an energy drink made of hibiscus flowers and gooseberry or rose petals, sprouted cereals like moong dal, naripayaru, urad dal etc., banana, ridge gourd or snake gourd poriyal, pachadi (salad) of green vegetables, vegetable sambar, rasam made of herbs including betel leaves, buttermilk mixed with ridge gourd, bottle gourd, and coconut milk, vada made of banana or drumstick flowers, mixed rice, pickles, all the way through to desserts of payasam from almond gum and fruit, a range of laddoos from copra, sesame and peanut, or kodo or finger millet pulp, topped with a special beeda with vegetables tucked inside the betel leaf instead of areca and lime.

And this entire menu is uncooked.

When asked how rice can be eaten without being boiled, Ms Neelakandan said, “You can cull aval (beaten rice or flakes) out of the traditional paddy varieties and make a variety of dishes like rice, idli, pongal, kanji which don’t need cooking.”

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Responding to the question of how she switched to the almost unthinkable notion of eating uncooked food, Ms Neelakandan said, “In 2012, I had several physical complaints including thyroid malfunction and infertility.  I found a cure for all my ailments in uncooked traditional dishes. As a result, my health improved and I also was able to conceive. Today I have a healthy eight-year-old daughter.”

And it was to spread this message of good health and the nutrition of traditional uncooked dishes that she started the No Oil and No Boil Restaurant, she added.

Ms Neelakandan explained that those who want good health for mind and body could eat uncooked natural foods, adding that uncooked vegetables are rich in bio-nutrients. And flowers can be eaten too; the hibiscus, panneer rose, lotus and conch flower are very beneficial for the body.  In particular, the hibiscus has medicinal properties that reduce high blood pressure, proving good for the heart, and gives a glow to the whole body, she said.

“In 2012, I had physical complaints including thyroid, infertility etc.  I found out a cure for my diseases in uncooked traditional dishes. As a result, my health improved and I gave birth to a baby girl.  My child too is healthy”

On the other hand, cooking green vegetables completely destroys the nutrients in them, Ms Neelakandan pointed out. If the vegetables are not cooked and consumed naturally without oil, the body will get the required nutrients in full. She said she was happy to see that fitness coaches, athletes, senior citizens and youths order from her via Swiggy and Zomoto.

The trick with no oil, no boil cooking is the use of suitable grains, like flattened rice, and dinner vegetables that can be consumed raw. The method uses coconut milk, whipping of ingredients sometimes and combining these suitably. Heat is not used, the chef says.

As a proof of the pudding (uncooked, of course) an elderly couple at the No Oil and No Boil Restaurant were all praise for the food, saying everything on offer was completely natural and healthy. The gentleman said he used to suffer from acidity after eating out but had no discomfort after dining at No Oil and No Boil. To top it all, the fulsome and healthy meal for the two of them cost just Rs. 350, he added.

Another customer, mother of young children, said, “The children love the food at No Oil and No Boil.”  She added that the food did not cause any heartburn as at most restaurants.

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