This month we met Mira Manek, author of healthy Indian cookbook Saffron Soul over a chai latte at the Attendant in Shoreditch, one of the cool cafes that sells Mira's delicious chai mix. We caught up to find out more about Mira's inspirations and all the amazing health and wellbeing projects she's working on!
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your work?
I have published a cookbook called Saffron Soul, a collection of healthy Indian recipes, weaving together family stories and anecdotes, bringing history, unity and family celebration to life. I also work with restaurants like Holborn Dining Rooms at the Rosewood, collaborating with a dish on their menu, and have worked with restaurants in Mumbai. I organise supper clubs, yoga brunches and am now doing retreats, calling them Soulful Retreats (UK & Rajasthan this year). And lastly, my chai which is used by various London cafes as well as my 'not fudge' pieces of deliciousness!
How would describe your cooking style and how does it differ from cooking traditional Indian food?
My food is very inspired by Indian flavours and recipes, taking my own home cooked Gujarati food, the cuisine that I grew up eating, and creatively applying, changing and adapting those dishes to make them both more appealing and accessible - most of all easy to make!
Besides publishing your cookbook Saffron Soul you also run supper clubs, cookery classes and wellness events! What aspect of your work do you enjoy the most?
I do actually love all of it - as I love mixing it up on a daily basis. I love creating new dishes but I also love planning menus and events. And I'm now planning retreats which I'm super excited about, the first is this May in Oxfordshire, the second is in a stunning palace in Rajasthan and we have a third in the pipeline this November in the U.K. I’ve got some exciting soulful yoga food events and supperclubs coming up at Grace Belgravia too!
As someone who is passionate about health, what advice would you give to someone trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
Everyone's body is so different so really understanding what works for you and then trying to avoid the things that don't work - I would start with that. As a rule, including more vegetables in your diet, then working with the seasons, more cooked foods when it's cold and raw foods in the summer, but see if your body digest raw or cooked better, and lastly try to get a balance of all food groups types on a daily basis - protein, fat, carbs.
Can you walk us through a day in your life?
Each day is so different! Cooking, going to yoga or a gym class, emails, meeting people, organising events. Madness and fun!
What are your go to wardrobe staples?
Jeans, inner tops, layers, and scarves - I love accessorising with scarves, rings and big earrings! They can jazz up any boring outfit.
If I wasn't working in health and nutrition... I wrote two novels, still not published, so might have published those (and maybe I still will!)
Words to live by... Live and find joy in all that you do, strive for it, love, and realise that the end of something is there to teach, to make you grow and will bring something new and beautiful. Learn to find joy in that change because change really is constant!
My day isn't complete until... I have had some chai! Well technically any hot drink, I love coffee, turmeric, matcha!
Favourite spice to cook with... All spices are so necessary, so that's tricky but maybe cinnamon and turmeric as they work for everything!
My ideal breakfast is... Porridge - love love love porridge!
A holiday destination I love is... India - I go every year, usually twice and for a while!
My favourite London hangout is... Hmmm Marylebone, Notting hill and Shoreditch!
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