Lifestyle

How This Expat In Malaysia Is Making Our Food Great Again—With Naan Of The Guilt

Our generation is all about healthier food options, but one thing most of us can’t give up is flavour.

So when we were invited by LokaLocal to attend a class to learn how to cook healthy Indian cuisine, it definitely piqued our interest. After all, when you think of Indian food, you think of decadent curries, lots of coconut milk and exciting bursts of flavours—not exactly your conventional health food.

Since Ruth and her husband moved to Malaysia back in the 90’s, the interior décor from their home in Bangalore wasn’t the only thing they brought. She brought her knowledge of its rich culinary heritage along with her.

She ushered us to her living room where the couple showed us the first recipe for a drink called Energising Water.

Energising Water (Image Credit: LokaLocal)

Ruth explained how the colourful beverage is packed full of health benefits such as improving blood circulation, burning fat and providing energy. Simple ingredients were used such as cucumber, ginger, lemon, orange and spearmint leaves.

It was a nice teaser for what awaited us next.

Introducing Heritage Health Secrets

Under Ruth’s tutelage (Image Credit: LokaLocal)

With the ingredients already prepared beforehand, Ruth was able to fully delve into the recipe of each dish and taught us the benefits of every one.

One of the first recipes was the Kosambari, a traditional Indian salad served as an accompaniment or as a snack. If eaten regularly, Ruth said that it has been shown to give a healthy glowing complexion.

You probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear we all crowded around to sample the sweet salad.

Ruth shared how since young, her mother advised her not to use sugar and oil in her cooking as much as possible. So she adapted that into her cooking style and fine-tuned it to be even healthier.

Bangalore Trail Mix (Image Credit: LokaLocal)

“My family mainly came from mixed heritage. In fact, my own mother has Portuguese origin and my father was raised in Pakistan before coming to India. He was also a bureaucrat so we travelled all across India. So that experience is reflected in my cooking,” shared Ruth.

Stir-frying onions and curry leaves for that burst of fragrance (Image Credit: LokaLocal)

Cooking under Ruth’s tutelage felt like having a trusted aunt or relative guiding you along each step of the way. However, it was clear that she spoke from the vantage point of a lifetime of cooking experience.

She patiently explained how the ingredients she substituted were healthier and provided extra benefits but still maintained the original delicious taste.

“Every tip I know is self-taught. I never went for cooking classes but I did my own research and tested it myself before I taught others. My family has always been supportive in trying out my food during the experimental phase so that motivated me to keep trying,” said Ruth.

Her skills have been recognised by media not only in India but in Malaysia as well. She shared that brands such as Dutch Lady have published her recipes before and awarded her for sharing them.

Moving From A Hobby To A Profession

Our meal for the day (Image Credit: LokaLocal)

By the end of our 1-hour session, we had a variety of dishes spread across the table that ranged from appetisers to main courses and even desserts. Everything looked absolutely delicious and the best part was how we didn’t need to feel guilty about eating any of it.

Ever since her daughter introduced her to the concept of opening up her kitchen for classes 4 years ago, Ruth has accumulated students from different countries and from various ages.

What they all shared was their interest in embracing different cultures, which is what inspires Ruth to continue doing this.

“There was a guy from the UK who was 66 years old who came for one of my classes and was very curious to know how I made my Naan bread from scratch. That just shows that you don’t have to point out age as a restriction when it comes to cooking healthily,” said Ruth.

When asked about any requirements when conducting her classes, the only restriction she places is that her classes usually have ladies and she doesn’t allow a class to be all men.

Payasa (Image Credit: LokaLocal)

We ended the class with a nice dessert made from chia seeds blended with bananas and mango as well as a traditional Indian dessert known as Payasa. The blended coconut garnished with some spices was an instant hit and we couldn’t get enough of it.

Ruth hopes that with her classes, people will leave with the knowledge that eating healthily does not mean restricting one’s diet.

“My traditional cooking is still delicious despite it being healthy so my entire family can enjoy eating with no worries. I hope that whoever attends my classes can feel the same way too,” said Ruth.

For those who are keen on learning under Ruth’s tutelage, you can find her through LokaLocal and experience cooking Indian healthy cuisine for your own meals.

This article is part of a series with LokaLocal as they continue to use technology to highlight unique local experiences and interesting people.

Feature Image Credit: LokaLocal