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Simply soya

Try cooking with soya and tofu and feel the difference


AT THE Greenfields College of Hotel Management, a handful of women are bent over the grate stir-frying a Chinese concoction. Mostly housewives and coming from a generation that never thought of food except in terms of taste, appearance, smell and many unexamined hand-me-down beliefs, their presence at the Soy Cookery Camp was heartening.

Held in association with the American Soybean Association, the camp is part of an annual summer exercise. Says V.K. Gupta, principal of the college; "The college in its seven years of existence has introduced the commoner to every cuisine possible from Italian to Chinese to Continental to preparing various courses - appetisers, main and dessert. But this is the first time we structured our course around a single product - soya."

On asked why soya was chosen, Radhakrishna, director of the institution says, "The mainstream scientific community now readily accepts that plant foods contain a host of biologically active non-nutritive components. No food has received the accolades that soy foods have during the past decade." Soya, which first came into the market as a substitute for dairy milk is an excellent alternative for meat. High in protein, it aids weight loss and inhibits the body's inclination to store fat deposits. Tofu, soya's versatile avatar tastes and looks like cottage cheese and can be turned into anything you dream up including kababs, stuffed chappathi and parathas. The cookery camp began with a lecture on the uses of soya by nutritionist Dr. Kavita Reddy. With a little help from the staff, Sanjeev Mishra, Bhaskar and Sangeeta, the participants prepared a whole gamut of dishes including short-eats such as cutlets, sprouts, masala vadas and tofu pouches, tofu puri, shabnami pilaf, tofu chilli fry, soya Manchurian and soy Florentine. For those with a sweet tooth, soya was a happy alteration with the class going syrupy over soya barfi and soya shahi halwa. Prizes were awarded on the concluding day for those who cooked up the best soya treats.

While Gautami, a participant agreed that tofu was not exotic; Anupriya who is a regular with the college's programmes recommended it as a good preference to regular Indian cooking.

The only sore point was that there were not many takers for this particular edition of the summer camp. Says Gupta, "Our courses are usually flooded with applicants. It's sad that there were not many takers for this one. In fact many turned away when they knew it was based on this single product."

Which is really a shame because soya is so good for just about anything. And remember, while you were tucking away into that sinfully rich malai kofta, in a quiet cul-de-sac in the city, some others were discovering the marvels of this wonder bean.

DEEPA ALEXANDER

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