Book review: Indian Superfoods by Rujuta Diwekar

Indian Superfoods_Rujuta Diwekar

I’ll start by saying that I recommend this book to every Indian. Eat local, support agriculture, and live a long and healthy life. That’s the gist of the book. If I made a list of the books that have changed my life for the better, this book would be on it. It’s that good.

Rujuta writes with a healthy blend of sarcasm, story-telling, and bharpoor gyaan. She delivers homilies without sounding preachy or holier-than-thou, making it easy for us to digest what she says. She writes just as if she were having a casual conversation with us. Her language is peppered with hindi words and phrases, but it all meshes so flawlessly and flows so smoothly. Her “oh boy!” and “come on!” and “man” lend the narrative a delightful flavor.

If you dread reading 176 pages of text, you don’t have to worry. Each chapter has a neat table that separates fact from fiction. And there are several boxed inserts as well that provide interesting information. Rujuta also references quotes and sayings from Indian mythology, Ayurvedic scripts, and culture. It is fascinating to see how she draws a parallel to what our grandmothers used to say and the source of this common knowledge in Ayurveda or our mythology.

Rujuta talks about 10 Indian superfoods: ghee, kokum, banana, kaju, ambadi, rice, coconut, aliv, jackfruit, and sugar. Yes, you read the list right. I was as surprised as you probably are now after reading the table of contents. The first thought that entered my head: how can sugar be a superfood?!

Instead of reading the chapters sequentially, I chose to read the ones that mystified me the most. I’d always considered sugar to be sweet poison. Why is Rujuta calling it an anti-ageing secret? That’s when I learnt the difference between high fructose corn syrup, beet sugar, and cane sugar. I can now stop fearing sugar and have my cup of masala chai in peace.

I always knew that ghee, banana, and coconut were good for health. But just how good is what I came to know after reading the book. Do note that ghee here refers to desi ghee, the one that we make at home. Rujuta helpfully shares the procedure to make ghee at home with milk from desi cows.

I eat kaju, rice, and jackfruit as part of my regular diet. But I had never considered them to be superfoods. This book taught me that many of the food theories that I have harbored so far in the name of food science are not true. If I just eat what my forefathers have traditionally eaten for generations, I will be strong, healthy, thin, and so on. Just think about it: there’s a reason why our grandparents or even parents are much more robust than we are.

Kokum, ambadi, and aliv—I had barely heard of these foods before. Rujuta provides a list of regional names for these foods at the end of the book. But I couldn’t recognize them even in my native language—Bengali.

Says a lot about our generation, doesn’t it?

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15 comments

  1. Yes that’s a fantastic book. I have read it twice to understand logic in better way. I do eat sugar daily but couldn’t think that it will increase obesity as a result of insulin resistance. But 6 tsp is good enough to take??

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    • I have lent my copy of the book to a friend, so I am unable to cross-check how many tsps of sugar she recommends. However, how much sugar we consume does not have to be dictated by her. The essence of what she says is that we shouldn’t have to feel guilty about consuming the 2 tsps of sugar in our 2 cups of chai.

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  2. Rujuta.. You have totally changed my thoughts.. Just by following your books..I have regained my energy, and positive approach towards life…
    Lord Krishna had written Gita
    You have written Food Gita.. 👍🌹

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    • Of course Rujuta is a God concious lady so definitely she has those samskaras instilled in her rote from childhood

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  3. Apt review of the book… can’t agree more to the fact that Rujuta has changed the wsy we used to think about food… now Im not scared to eat food but actually relish it all the more n getting leaner day by day…!!

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