Nagpur: “No milk. No curds. No sugar. No oil. And no wheat, bajra or jowar either…absolutely no maida, no butter, cream, cheese, eggs or non veg.”
“After I finish giving these ‘commands’ all my listeners want to run for their lives! Who can live with these restrictions?? I would rather live 10 years less, than live without eating all these things – say people.”
“And then I invite them to enjoy the dinner buffet spread with me: we start with a ‘cocktail’ of vegetable juices; then a soup and then a generous spread that has all your favorite dishes – cucumber raita, dahiwada, aloo bonda, Veg Kolhapuri, Methi matar aloo, Thai curry, Tomato ‘rice’ and even very rich and creamy looking Gajar halwa and Kheer! People partake on this feast and then they are like ‘we can do this all our lives!’ ”
People listen enraptured as Harish Shetty narrates all this – he is speaking to an audience that consists largely of Nagpur High Court Judiciary, many of them are already on ‘Aharveda’ and say they have benefited hugely by following the diet.
So what is the principle behind ‘Aharveda’ – a phrase also coined by Harish for his revolutionary diet, specially with the Indian palate in mind.
‘Ahar’ means food and as we all know Vedas are our ancient scriptures. As their web site says-
” Through the Aharveda way, we are combining age-old principles of wellness – centric food science as practised in ancient India and our decades of experience in creating tasty food. The Aharveda Way will prepare you to fight today’s stress levels and ailments with lots of energy, a well-balanced body and a healthy, positive mindset. Our vision is to fight major diseases and we believe it’s possible through systematic cleansing of body and by including body balancing diet in our daily food.”
So what do you get to eat in the Aharveda plan?
Lots of fruits – they recommend upto 2 Kgs of fruits per person; lots of nimbu pani, or lemon juice, vegetables and vegetable juices, all kinds of dals and in lieu of food grains stuff like ‘bhagar’, Rajgira, Singhada atta (all the things that are allowed in ‘fasts’ ) and plenty of root vegetables like potato, sweet potato, yam/Suran and arbi.
Also all nuts and dry fruits.
So if you are wondering how ‘dahi wada’ and ‘kheer’ are made without curds or milk, here’s the answer. The curds are made of peanuts and milk for kheer comes from coconut milk and/ or crushed badam paste diluted with water. And I guarantee they taste as good or better than the stuff we know!
How did Aharveda come about?
As we all know, the Shettys of India are all into the Food Business! Whether it is in South India or Mumbai or Nagpur – one can find many popular restaurants owned by Shettys.
Harish’ family also ran a famous Vegetarian restaurant called Radhakrishna in Andheri. It served South Indian, Punjabi, Gujarathi, Chinese, Italian – the full range of international cuisine. It had seating for 500 and had been doing thriving business for four decades.
Harish had naturally joined the family business as soon as he was ready.
Then when he was just 36 years of age, one day he was suddenly gasping for breath.
“It was like someone was chocking me” recalls Harish.
He was rushed to the hospital where tests showed that all his parameters were off. His B.P., his blood sugar, his cholesterol, everything. Despite Harish being a teetotaler who did not smoke, drink or eat non veg himself.
So what had gone wrong? Life style, diet, habits, atmospheric pollution – everything seemed to have combined to make Harish very sick.
He had two alternatives before him: either begin on a regimen of pills that he would have to take life long and the dosages would only increase as he grew older or find alternative therapies for ‘cure’.
There was a stint when he tried out everything, Homeopathy, Ayurveda everything. Nothing really helped. Naturopathic food and practises finally brought some relief but Harish realized the bland food they prescribed was not something one could eat life long.
“Why should healthy be tasteless?” He asked himself.
Then he turned his kitchen into a Lab. and began experimenting. He consulted scriptures, old cook books and any literature he could get his hands on. He really educated himself on Food and began by treating himself with natural foods. He became his own Guinea pig!
Almost rapidly and miraculously his ‘parameters’ regained normalcy. He not only lost weight and but he lost years as well!
Today when he is 50, he looks like someone in his 30s!! He is full of energy, is infectiously optimistic and cheerful and has a very positive attitude to life.
“It is absolutely true – a healthy body brings about a healthy mind and a feeling of peace and compassion towards all” he says.
“But it is not just food that will cure you” Harish cautions.
“The more important thing is breathing right, taking in plenty of oxygen. Practise deep breathing, breathing from your stomach as babies do, consciously twice- thrice a day.”
“See, you can live without food for two days, but not even a minute without air” he reminds his listeners.
Along with the food you eat, you also need to follow good eating habits. Like dinner should be had before 8 p.m.
In the mornings, have as many fruits as you can, but only one fruit at a time. After a gap of an hour, you can have another.
Between 12 and 8 p.m. is the time for cooked foods. (Cooked as per his instructions without oil – but you can use all the spices and condiments you want!)
“One should sleep by 10 p.m. and wake up as early as you can – 4 a.m. is ideal” he says.
He also generously allows you 65 days out of 365 as ‘cheat days’ when you can eat what you want! “Don’t deprive yourself of anything you love. Just eat it on a Sunday” he says. He knows forsaking your favorite foods can lead to uncontrolled cravings.
“Also when you are on a Holiday, you can give your diet a holiday too – since there is no point in second guessing the ‘health quotient’ of hotel food!”
Over the years, his ‘diet’ – or his Aharveda – found many followers and many chronic and ‘hopeless’ patients found health again.
Like the case of this 80+ lady who had such bad arthritis that she had not come down from her 3rd floor flat for almost 15 years! (There was no lift in the building in Mumbai.) Then when movement inside the flat also became painful she seriously began contemplating knee joint replacement surgeries for both knees. That was when someone introduced Harish to her. He asked her to try his Aharveda for 6 months – if it did not succeed “I will pay for your operation” promised Harish.
She followed it faithfully and in 8 months she was climbing down from her flat twice a day! She felt like she had a new lease of life.
She offered Harish the – lakhs that would have been her operation cost.
“Don’t give this to me, use it to buy fruits and other healthy food for poor people” he said.
There are many such people who have been restored health and are off most of their medications.
Every Sunday, Harish sees 100 ‘patients’ in his ‘OPD’ and talks to them about the benefits of eating Natural and Live foods that is the soul of Aharveda. For those who want to follow it strictly he makes meal plans – even giving out recipes. He has hundreds of recipes to dole out and is in the process of writing a Cook Book. His sessions are full always, one has to do advance booking for seats!
Now Harish is endeavoring to take this Science of Healthy Eating all over the country. Even all over the world. This quest brought him to Nagpur where select Nagpurians got a taste of his unique cuisine.
His next plan is to start Health Food Restaurants all over the country.
He is a Shetty, remember??!
(You can check out Aharveda at https://aharveda.com/ or on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/aharveda/.
You can also call 91-22-4072-2211 )