A Satvik Restaurant in Kuwait
Dr. Navniit Gandhi
Sunday, February 19, 2017
“A recipe has no Soul; You as the Cook must bring soul to the recipe” -Thomas Keller
Yes, you have read the title right!!! And, yes… the restaurant has been there and is thriving since eleven years!
The Ginger Restaurant at the ground floor in Al-Muthanna Complex offers Satvik Khaana, and it is established and managed by a Kuwaiti woman entrepreneur, who is also a professional and a Yoga practitioner.
Restaurants are in plenty, here in Kuwait. Food… Food everywhere… There is an abundance of choice, in terms of food. There is variety, because diversity is respected in Kuwait. It is not just the expatriates who have adapted to the local culture and cuisine and love the experiences, but also, the natives who are adapting to the diverse culture and cuisine and other influences that the expatriates have brought along. Nothing could testify this further than the presence of such a large number of restaurants that offer a peak into the cuisine of a large number of countries.
And yet, when Shaikha Al Arfaj decided to set up Ginger- which offers East Asian food, she was clear that she did not just want a restaurant that offered tastier food, but also healthier food. The restaurant runs on certain principles, and there is a spiritual streak to the way the food is prepared. While not using onion and garlic in its preparations, this Vegan restaurant also does not use eggs, or animal products, or gluten or wheat products. There are no artificial sauces, or dairy products or refined salt and sugar (sea salt and jaggery is used instead) used either. The entire taste is the taste and aroma of fresh vegetables, for she does not use spices as well.
A Civil Engineer by profession, Shaikha is a senior executive at a leading Engineering firm in Kuwait. Deeply influenced by the concept of cooking with love, the motto of her life is visibly etched on a wall inside the restaurant: “We are here to not only feed your body but also your soul”. An accidental brush with the spiritual ways of living and cooking inspired Shaikha to take up Yoga and Meditation a few years ago. She adopted the tenets of the Brahmakumaris sect, which included eating Satvik food. Shaikha, and her sister Mona—both just love cooking--a love they say they inherited from their mother (who was born in India) and they share the spiritual beliefs too.
Ginger is not just about using a select and not using some other ingredients. Rather, it is about cooking and eating with certain principles and processes. Shaikha and her Team not only choose the freshest vegetables but also offer and treat food as prasadam. It is also not about following any particular religion or religious practices, but rather it is about cooking and partaking food with positive and loving vibes. All in the Ginger team treat food lovingly and practise meditation. They serve the food to the customers, with equal warmth, as one would serve family members. Shaikha aims at offering other global cuisines—such as Italian and American—the Satvik way. Both the sisters love to cook themselves and experiment with food creatively. Perhaps, it must be the only place to offer a Vegan Shawerma!!!
“It is not that we are catering to the people who want Satvik food, but we, as a matter of principle, offer and believe in food that is Satvik”, says Shaikha. While some customers may not know or may know but not understand that the food is Satvik, and yet relish the same—there is also that loyal clientele that seeks the food by choice and loves it. “It might surprise you but many young Kuwaitis who have broader exposures, are eating vegetarian food by choice and they love it here. My own daughter who was not a vegetarian, went to study in Melbourne and has returned purely Vegetarian and Vegan. The Kuwaitis say that they feel light after eating the food, and they keep coming again”, says Shaikha, with a gentle smile.
Pained at the sight of people stuffing themselves up with unhealthy junk food, Shaikha points out how people spend a substantial month on the mindless grocery shopping, and then spend hundreds further on medicines and treatment, while she herself now spends minimally on food and lives healthier too. And, the prices aren’t steep at all, especially considering that the ingredients are absolutely fresh and free-from-chemicals and that lot of efforts are put in towards making everything in-house and with great care. It is a reasonably-priced restaurant, considering the delicious and healthy food that it offers, with love. After all, there are no tinned foods or frozen foods or ready-made sauces used.
She firmly believes that Food changes the way we look at ourselves, at others and at life, in general. She is committed to non-violent food, which she believes will bring down the scales of agitation in humankind. “We are just relentlessly running on the path of acquiring more and more… we must pause and think as to what are we giving to the society. Each one of us must remember the Karmic principle… We must give what we want to come back to us… Hence, this restaurant is still running. We want people to know the benefits of eating right…”
Dr. Navniit Gandhi is an academician, and a freelance writer/columnist. She has been writing extensively for several newspapers, magazines, web-portals and academic publications and has authored five Books, till date.
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