Asian-inspired healthy cuisine from Pranayum had us full and wanting more… another cup of chai, perhaps?
Yum yum in my tum tum is what I think of when someone mentions Pranayum, Hong Kong’s only yogic food business. It was only fitting then that we tried out the food, prepared by co-owner Seema Bhatia, for a celebratory Friday afternoon lunch when our Sassy Media Group Director Hester visited Hong Kong recently. Seema works hard to keep traditional flavours running through her food while using modern and healthier cooking methods. Everything is made fresh and preservative-free with natural and organic ingredients.
Pranayum’s tagline is “blessed, unique and made with love”: “blessed” because the company supports a charity that works to improve the lives of children in rural India, “unique” because the food they make takes inspiration from Ayurveda, Inca, Egypt and Morocco and “made with love” as they draw on sacred techniques handed down from their ancestors.
Starting in the patio area of her building in Mid-Levels, we began with refreshing drinks and snacks before heading up to her place for mains. The patio area was lovely and it was a good opportunity for all of us at Sassy HQ to relax while welcoming in our Sassy sister from Singapore.
The spread of food upstairs at Seema’s home was ready and waiting, piping hot. Everything looked and smelled inviting and we couldn’t wait to get stuck in to this family-style meal.
We began with a vodka-spiked ruby red Egyptian hibiscus tea known as “karkady”… it was a lovely and light way to begin our meal and we were all amazed by the bright colour! If a bright-coloured cocktail doesn’t signal the start of summer, then I don’t know what does!
After our meal, I was about to ask Seema for a cup of Indian masala tea – I was certain I’d get a fragrant, steaming hot cup from her kitchen – but before I could ask, we were presented with shot glasses of the stuff! And fragrant it was, with a hint of fresh lemongrass. No Indian household makes chai in the same way, so I love trying the different variations wherever I go. Seema’s version was definitely a lovely touch to the end of the meal.
Pranayum also does Shakti shots – a powerful blend of everything good for you, including the all-healing turmeric. A little goes a long way (which is why they are served in shot glasses!) and we had ours mixed with citrus juices.
Seema took inspiration from all over Asia when curating the menu for our lunch. We were presented with a Moroccan-inspired cashew nut and sun-dried tomato dip with crudités. Most of us couldn’t get enough of this and kept searching for the two plates as they were being passed around. The cashew toned down the tartness of the sun-dried tomatoes while adding body to appetiser. The second appetiser was a refreshing Peruvian corn and bean salad. It had a strong coriander flavour but it wasn’t overpowering, and the corn kernels added bites of sweetness.
The main course consisted of six delicious dishes all influenced from Seema’s travels around the world. We began with two salads: a simple mixed salad with sesame dressing, because according to Seema, “we need to be healthy”! We also indulged in a Moroccan-inspired cous cous salad with cranberries and a tamari and orange stir-fried tofu with a hint of powerful red chilli.
I tucked into the fluffy, South Indian fermented rice cakes (idlis)… they are a staple in my grandma’s house (usually because I request them!). You’re supposed to eat them with sambhar, made up of lentils, tomatoes and fresh curry leaves, which came as well. The rice cakes were delicately soft and soaked up every last drop of the sambhar. The sambhar could have been spicier, but on the whole was a match made in heaven. Homemade coconut chutney was also served with this dish.
A dish of superfood quinoa was also on the table, influenced by Indian flavours with the curry leaves. Presented simply, it was perfumed with savoury spices making it distinctive.
My favourite was the Cambodian green curry with garden vegetables and pumpkin, served over healthy brown rice… I love a good curry! It was aromatic, rich and silky smooth due to the addition of coconut milk. I had to have a second helping of this one!
No meal is complete without a sweet treat. The Persian chia and rose coconut pudding reminded me of my childhood as I used to drink rose milk (a dash of rose syrup in a glass of milk, in case anyone would like to try!). The rose syrup added a candy flavour to the dessert and left me and my palette happy.
We were lucky to get a taste of Pranayum’s flavoursome food and their principles of “blessed, unique and made with love” definitely shone through in all the dishes we tried. Pranayum also cater small yogic events as well as private events and will soon expand to doing healthy lunch box deliveries.
In the mean time, one order of the Cambodian curry and a cup of masala chai for me please Seema, thanks!
Prana Yum, www.facebook.com/pranayum