Shilpa Shetty Kundra on why rajma-chawal is all the superfood you need Advertisement

Shilpa Shetty Kundra on why rajma-chawal is all the superfood you need

Your mom has been making this for years

By Anjan Sachar  December 11th, 2015

After pretty much setting new fitness standards in Bollywood, Shilpa Shetty Kundra never expected to be fat-shamed for a few extra post-pregnancy kilos. “It was four months after I had my baby and I felt so terrible,” she says. Not the kind to sit around moping, she skipped the health fads and decided to get back in shape the old-school way. Now, she has collaborated with holistic nutritionist and exercise physiologist Luke Coutinho to put together those tried-and-tested nutrition tips into her first book, The Great Indian Diet. She tells us why you may want to ditch the new diet rules in favour of a wholesome home-cooked meal.

ELLE: How did you and Luke Coutinho end up collaborating?
Shilpa Shetty Kundra: I met Luke to discuss my son’s nutrition because I was completely lost as a new mother. Every time we met, he noted my weight loss and asked me about my diet. I told him I was really just eating regularly, and he said it was perfect. But it was when everyone began noticing my weight loss that I decided to write a book about it and Luke came on board as the health and nutrition expert.

ELLE: What reinstated your faith in Indian food?
I have always believed in longlasting  lifestyle changes rather than fad diets that are only effective for some time. Luke and I have also been talking about how Indian food is powerful and healthy. I realised that I didn’t need asparagus and quinoa to lose weight; you can lose weight by eating rajma chawal — it’s a wholesome meal with all nine amino acids.

ELLE: Have you ever tried any health fads?
SSK: I tried the Blood Group diet seven years ago and it was shit — I actually gained weight after that. But over the years a few things have worked for me, like it’s best to eat fruits on an empty stomach and alternating low and no carb days will help you get rid of belly fat.

ELLE: What Indian super foods do you recommend?
Pick spinach instead of kale, brown rice with amaranth instead of quinoa, and flax seeds are a good alternative for chia. Curcumin [derived from turmeric] is also very good for us and for a wholesome option eat dough made from bajra, ragi, jowar and amaranth with ghee. It’s best to stop running behind white foods and eat foods we’ve grown up with.

ELLE: What do you always stock in your refrigerator?
Yogurt, apricots, dried figs and cheese.

The Indian superfoods you need to include in your diet

Coconut oil

The virtues of coconut oil cannot be stressed enough, and Kinita agrees. "We shunned it for long time and now the world wants its hands on it. This oil is taking the limelight with its fast absorbing properties giving instant energy to many and helping in amplifying a slow metabolic rate," she says. She has a word of advice, though. "Always look out for VCO- Virgin Coconut Oil versions to get the maximum benefits."

Chia seeds

"Lately every food is enhanced with Chia like breads, milkshakes, juices, biscuits etc," says Kinita, adding that these seeds have been around for centuries as sabja seeds. "Unfortunately, we have just recently understood its benefits," she says. According to her, these seeds are multi-taskers. "Its high protein, cooling and acts a great gut cleanser." There you go.


"This grain has got the attention for being light, crunchy, gluten-free and containing approximately 8 grams of protein in a cooked 1-cup serving (more than any other cereal). Unfortunately, it is expensive, not grown in India and not readily available," says Kinita. All's not lost yet, she has a few suggestions for ingredients closer to home that will give you same benefits, like barley (jav), jowar and amaranth (rajgira). "When consumed in combination with dals and pulses, you’ll even be able to exceed the required protein content. So if you can afford Quinoa, great! If you can’t the Indian versions are equally super," she says.