As the festive season approaches, celebrity chef Kunal Kapoor has loads of good news for those who complain that Indian mithai is overly sweet and high on calories. He's been able to eliminate the sugar and yet keep the taste and the science involved in preparation intact.
"The Sweet BreakUp", a five-part web series, went live on YouTube on Friday.
"We all love our food and the sweets take a special place in our hearts. We have advanced in every aspect of our lives, including our food. But somewhere the halwai is left out.
"It is still the same and almost everyone complains it to be overly sweet and high on calories. So we took it as a challenge to recreate the Indian mithai with the same taste but without the sugar and with much less calories. I am confident it will be as fun for everyone to watch as it was for me to make them," Kapoor, who wears multiple hats of restaurateur, author and TV judge and presenter, told IANS in an interview.
The series revolves around Kapoor, and Rocky and Mayur from the cult show "Highway on my Plate" and a desert truck that travels to five iconic Indian cities where the chef interacts with halwais and explains how they can replace sugar with artificial sweetener and still retain the original flavour.
"The series has attempted to capture our journey to rediscover some of the iconic mithais of India. We have interacted with fifth-, sixth-generation halwais with a legacy hundreds of years old. We have tried to explore the story and origins of these legendary Indian desserts recipes.
"There is a lot of interaction with locals in every city, we have literally heard it from the people, for the people. And once I create the mithai with Sugar Free we take it to the people of the city for tasting, which is the most exciting part. All in all, I, along with Rocky and Mayur, had tonnes of fun making 'The Sweet BreakUp'," Kapoor elaborated.
"Whether it was Tewari Brothers' Gulab Jamuns from Chandni Chowk, or Malai ki Gilouri from Lucknow, or Sandesh from Balaram Sweets in Kolkata, or Dharwad Peda from Bangalore (Bengaluru) or the modaks in Mumbai, every mithai was an experience in itself and even more exciting as well as nerve-wracking challenge for me to recreate," Kapoor explained.
Expanding on the challenge, he said: "I tasted and understood how the mithai is made and then came the most difficult part of the process. How to eliminate sugar and yet keep the taste and the science involved in preparation intact. My endeavour was to try and keep the taste as close as possible to the original recipe. Trust me, it is the most difficult part."
But then, Kapoor, who last year made the hugely popular "Pickle Nation" 18-part TV serial, was eminently suited for the task.
"I am a foodie myself. I have a major sweet tooth. I also believe that -- given our fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyles -- making healthy choices is crucial for our well being. It doesn't mean skipping out on food though or starving. It is about striking the right balance between the calories you consume and the calories you burn. It is about finding healthy alternatives to high calorie intake and, above all, staying stress-free," he said.
What's next on the cards?
"There are a lot of things that I am working on. My research and writing on my book on pickles continues, chronicling the pickle evolution and innovations across the country," Kapoor concluded.