Nandan Bhoopalam is a vegan chef and originally from Bangalore, India. He currently resides in Lisbon, Portugal, where he works in a vegan restaurant, Princesa do Castelo. He also teaches workshops as well as being an instructor in yoga schools and retreats all over Europe and India. Nandan Bhoopalam made a change in his career path by shifting his focus from the financial sector, to pursuing his passion – cooking and leading a well-balanced life. He is a true inspiration if you want to find out about food that is good for the mind, the body and the soul. We were so curious, we had to interview him!
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We believe that “hands tell stories“. What do your hands tell about you?
People say I have very slender hands, like a pianist but my hands are my tools to create, to offer and to nourish. They are my lifeline.
You are a chef, but apart from food – What is the last thing you created with your hands?
The last thing I created with my hands was happiness, caressing and massaging my little cat Sita. I also like creating Ganesha’s out of clay and do Ikebana.
If you could choose, what would you like to be able to do with your hands?
Other than cooking, clay modelling and Ikebana I would like to use my hands to massage and fix things.
Looking back on everything you’ve done in your life – What is the one thing you are proudest of?
I am proud of many things, but most importantly proud of my mother, grandmother and her mother – their lives and love for food has made me who I am now.
Having lived in various countries you seem to embrace foreign cultures. “One of a mind” underlines our strong belief in equality and the value of sharing. How does intercultural exchange benefit our global society in your eyes?
Intercultural exchange is something you learn by experiencing it, which is very important for every human to know other cultures, traditions and practises, just to know another viewpoint and another way of doing things. It opens our minds and makes us think progressively and teaches us to be humble and not to judge.
Nandan Bhoopalam, you are originally from Bangalore, India. Do you go back regularly? What differentiates India from other countries?
I was there last time in 2013, although my mother visited me recently. I’m Indian by heart for sure. Something I say everybody is – “India is systematic chaos”.
Speaking as a food expert, how would you describe the “Tastes of India” and what is your favourite?
Tastes of India is a very very broad concept. It’s like the galaxy, every few 100 kms the taste changes and the same dish is made in very different ways amongst each community or region. My favourite for sure is the food from my region of Deccan Plateau, food that is spicy and tangy using lots of chillies, tamarind, peanuts, whole spices; I’m already salivating.
According to you there is food that is good for the body, but not for the mind. Could you explain this?
This type of diet is known as Sattvic diet, it is food with positivity, wholesomeness and holistic, that balances the appetite thereby giving the complete nourishment to both body and mind. We offer Sattvic dishes at my restaurant, Princesa do Castelo, here in Lisbon. Certain foods are not good for the mind they are static foods, they might have medicinal properties but they lead to lesser refined state of consciousness and they stimulate the lower two chakras. These foods include meat, fish, onions in all forms, garlic, leeks, mushrooms and alcohol.
Indian herbs are essential ingredients in your dishes. What are the five herbs you use most and why?
Well, I love using all kinds of herbs and spices and all of them have amazing flavours and medicinal properties, food is to be used as medicine because you are what you eat.
Five most used are:
- Curry leaves, they are rich in Iron
- Ginger, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
- Turmeric powder, balances sugar in the blood, digestive disorders and production of white blood cells, is a natural remedy to stop bleeding during small cuts and wounds
- Cinnamon, rich in antioxidants
- Cloves, stimulates secretion of digestive enzymes
To try one of Nandan Bhoopalam’s recipes check out his delicious Kichadi – wholesome food for the mind, body and soul!
© All photos via Nandan Bhoopalam