Press Release Article – Author Shuchi Agrawal

Shuchi Agrawal is a renowned nutritionist, recipe developer, and author. Shuchi says challenges and circumstances have always been her most significant teachers in life. When Shuchi and her family relocated to France from India in 2004, they encountered several challenges in the foreign land. The language, culture, people, festivals, and even food were all unfamiliar territories for them. Being vegetarians, their choices were significantly limited, adding complexity to their experience!

She recalls an incident at a pizzeria where she requested a butler for a vegetarian pizza. The bewildered look servers gave to her made Shuchi feel like she was an alien who just landed on another planet. It became apparent that many people in France were unfamiliar with the concept of vegetarianism. Engaging in discussions, she often found herself bombarded with questions about how vegetarians obtain sufficient protein, what are the primary sources of iron in a vegetarian diet, and whether being a vegetarian is a healthy choice. These misconceptions surrounding vegetarianism fueled her determination to delve deeper into the subject.

Motivated by a desire to dispel these misconceptions and promote a healthier lifestyle, Shuchi embarked on a mission to educate others about vegetarianism. She started hosting dinner gatherings for her foreign friends, where she introduced them to delicious and healthy vegetarian meals. It was a moment of pride for her when a French friend stated that he could live his whole life on such flavorsome vegetarian dishes. Shuchi says this encouraging feedback inspired her to intensify her efforts in spreading awareness about vegetarianism and advocating for a more health-conscious way of life. Shuchi started offering cooking classes, sharing her knowledge and expertise with others, and encouraging them to embrace the joys of vegetarian cuisine. Many times, people asked for recipes, and she started working on writing detailed recipes.

Upon moving to the USA in 2008, Shuchi was surprised by the sight of turmeric and ginger capsules readily available over the counter in medical stores, marketed for boosting the immune system. This sparked her curiosity to explore the rich treasure of ancient Indian knowledge, and she started studying Ayurveda from a scientific perspective. Equipped with a master’s degree in botanical sciences, Shuchi studied subjects such as health, ethnobotany, plant-based nutrition, and digestion at Cornell University. Her goal was to effectively communicate to others the incredible health benefits of a vegetarian or vegan diet. As her journey unfolded, she realized that altering one’s diet could address many common health issues. Consequently, she developed a keen focus on cultivating healthy eating habits and utilizing pure, easily accessible ingredients in her recipes.

Balancing taste and nutrition, she stays away from fat-free, sugar-free, and artificial ingredients, as well as chemical-based flavor enhancers in her recipes.

Indian cuisine is as ancient as the land itself, with vibrant descriptions of exotic dishes found in old Sanskrit texts. However, there exists a treasure of Indian recipes that have been passed down through generations but are often missing from the menus of Indian restaurants. From Mangaudi Aloo to Kadhi, Methi Aloo to Tehri, an array of recipes has captivated the palates of countless Indians. Driven by a desire to share the essence of traditional Indian food, the stories behind food rituals, and the deep-rooted food traditions, she embarked on writing a book that would encapsulate taste and tradition. Shuchi’s first book was published in Hindi- स्वाद, सेहत और शाकाहार- आयुर्वेद से आजतक in March 2021 by Garduda Prakashan. After the success of the Hindi book on readrs demand she published her English book titled “Health, Taste, and Traditions – A Vegetarian Journey from Ayurveda to Modern Science,” was published in January 2023. The book comprises nine articles based on Ayurveda, scientific insights, and Indian food traditions, along with 84 vegetarian Indian recipes, several of them sourced from ancient Indian literature. Prior to publishing this book, she had released a book “Swad Sehat aur Shakahar- Ayurveda se Aaj Tak” in Hindi at the beginning of 2021. In this book, she has attempted to give a detailed explanation of the ingredients and has also given information about various spices. Veganism is not mentioned in Ayurveda, however almost 60-75% of food made in an Indian vegetarian household, such as dry vegetables, curries, rice and roti, are vegan.

There are several vegan desserts in this book such as tilkut and mewa paag. She has also explained gluten sensitivity and gluten allergies and included recipes which are gluten-free. Diabetes is a common illness these days. Diabetes is listed as Madhumeh in Ayurveda and can be completely cured by changing the diet.

Shuchi says, In the USA, Most Indian restaurants have a similar kind of food. The restaurants menus often featured similar dishes such as paneer butter masala, saag paneer, chole, and naan. The curries are heavily loaded with cream. Desserts such as custard, kheer, gajar halwa, and gulab jamun were often prepared using condensed milk and artificial essences, resulting in a canned taste. It troubled her to witness this departure from authentic Indian flavors. She decided to present true Indian cuisine to American readers.

She also encountered instances where blindly following established cooking practices, such as using olive oil, was not quite appropriate for making tadkas. or it cannot replace ghee when it comes to drizzling on roti, as ghee possesses the rich “madhur ras” that beautifully compliments the roti/bread. While olive oil is undoubtedly beneficial when consumed raw, its low smoking point renders it unsuitable for heating it. Moreover, olive oil cannot be used as a substitute in many Indian dessert preparations. In her book, she explores these topics and provides logical explanations as to why adhering to Ayurvedic principles, which are supported by scientific knowledge, is useful.

In essence, her journey has been one of discovery and exploration, culminating in a desire to bridge the gap between ancient Indian wisdom, science, and the diverse flavors of India. Through her book, she aims to inspire others to embrace the holistic principles of Ayurveda and savor the authentic taste and traditions that Indian cuisine has to offer. The goal of this book is to bring forth a wide variety of healthy vegetarian options, both ancient and contemporary, for everyone. She hopes everyone benefits from this book!

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