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New Navi Mumbai cafe sticks to the 'stone age' diet!

A fortnight-old eatery in Seawoods serves dishes that stick to Paleolithic and Zone diets

Abhishek Bhogte’s gaze refuses to waver even as customers trickle in, requesting egg pepper rings with berries jam and BBQ tofu. The 25-year-old chef stares at a miniature weighing machine that holds a cup of couscous. “Fifty grams,” he announces. “Once cooked, it will weigh 65 gm.”

(From left): Owners Sudarshan Yadav, Manoj Kumbhar and Angad Dhundsikar at their two-week-old Paleo and Zone diet café.  Pics/Sameer Markande
(From left): Owners Sudarshan Yadav, Manoj Kumbhar and Angad Dhundsikar at their two-week-old Paleo and Zone diet café.  Pics/Sameer Markande

Ufc’s Healthy Heads Paleo and Zone Café at Seawoods is Navi Mumbai’s — and possibly the city’s — only eatery to serve dishes that prescribe to the rules of the Paleolithic Diet (advocates a meal plan that’s gluten, grains, legumes and dairy-free), and Zone Diet (carbohydrate, protein and fat is consumed in the 40:30:30 ratio). In the latter, a unit of energy is a ‘block’, explains Bhogte. One block of carbohydrate and protein is equivalent to nine grams of carbohydrate and seven grams of protein respectively. In his kitchen, every dish and its components are carefully measured, which is why Bhogte’s weighing machine comes handy.

Getting hooked in Phuket
Over a glass of sugar-free, soya milk-based apple banana smoothie (R110), co-owner Manoj Kumbhar recalls a visit to his doctor in 2013. It didn’t go as planned. When he shared his desire to sign up for the Tiger Muay Thai and MMA training camp in Phuket, the doctor warned Kumbhar, a Grade A arthritis patient who needed help getting out of bed every morning, that he would not be able to walk again.

The chocolate plantain brownie
The chocolate plantain brownie

Since his Panvel-based construction equipment manufacturing business wasn’t doing well due to the recession, he was ready for a break. He boarded a flight to Phuket, and ended up extending his stay to six months, doing yoga, muay thai and crossfit training. “By the end of it, I’d lost 20 kilos.”

It was here that Kumbhar was introduced to both diets. Back home in November 2013, he took up a consultancy profile that would allow him time to set up a gym-cum-café. “But space constraints meant we had to set up this eatery one kilometre away from the gym,” he shares.

Go gluten-free
His co-partners are gym buddies, 31-year-old Angad Dhundsikar and 26-year-old Sudarshan Yadav. The three met at a kickboxing class at Nerul’s DY Patil Sports Academy in 2011, where Kumbhar wooed the two by cooking up soups and omlettes stuffed with bell peppers.

The menu at their café includes a write-up on both diets, complete with pyramid diagrams and tables. Stewards are often seen explaining the diets to curious customers. “Although I gym regularly, I didn’t know much about these diets before I got here,” says Nerul advocate Chirag Thakur.

Head chef Abhishek Bhogte measures ingredients going into a Zone diet dish
Head chef Abhishek Bhogte measures ingredients going into a Zone diet dish

Dishes at the café include avocado scrambled eggs (Rs 90), savoury sweet potato Paleo hash browns (Rs 100) and carrot & raisins salad (Rs 130). The macademia and cocoa cookie (Rs 60), is made with toasted macademia nuts, coconut flour and almond flour. Sugar is replaced with honey and maple syrup, while tortilla wraps are made from soya flour, whole wheat flour and oat flour.

The chocolate plaintain brownie (Rs 110) is a product of the Zone Diet, and comes topped with a glaze of chocolate and pureed avocado. The only milk used here is coconut, soya and almond — the last, says Bhogte, is made from scratch in his kitchen. Kumbhar admits that their biggest challenge has been to source Paleo ingredients, most of them too expensive to allow the team to stick to their mid-priced menu.

But it’s not just customers who seem to have taken to the concept. Bhogte says he lost weight in the first fortnight of the eatery’s launch. “I’ve given up milk and sugar. In fact, I’m well on my way to convincing my parents, too.”

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