PETALING JAYA, March 31 — At 83, Mohana Gill looks like she has found the enviable fountain of youth.
The sprightly lady is renowned for her prolific writing of cookbooks.
Her first, Fruitastic! published back in 2005, got us to eat more fresh fruits. Then came Vegemania! which called on us to make our diets more vegetable centric.
Her latest is Flowerlicious: For Healthy Living, Longevity and Wellness. The cookbook that showcases edible flowers completes her trinity of publications that focuses on the benefits of Nature's gifts.
These titles have also been honoured at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. And Mohana also wrote a children's book series that promotes healthy eating!
"For me, cooking is not only a hobby but a passion," explained Mohana. Since she was young, walking into a kitchen and experiencing how food is prepared and tasting the end product is what she calls "one of the most pleasurable things in my life.".
That passion extended to the writing of cookbooks. Mohana said, "I think the most exciting thing about writing a cookbook is to present to the world, a completely new cuisine, a new idea or mixing and matching of ingredients which anyone can look for and prepare as they wish."
Mohana envisions her cookbooks as a colouring board. "You colour it the way you want to, mixing and matching colours and doing whatever you like," she said. This keeps the process natural and almost effortless, allowing you to tweak it to what you like.
This is also how Mohana approaches any recipe she comes across. "I look at a recipe that I think looks good and then I change it, add or subtract some ingredients, and come up with something a little different."
In Flowerlicious, Mohana gives the beautiful blooms centrestage.
She explained, "The sight of flowers, their fragrance, their smell and everything else about flowers make us happy. I also realised that flowers have a lot of health benefits, apart from the fact that just being surrounded by flowers is enough to make anyone feel better."
There is also a local slant to the recipes. She showcases flowers like bunga telang, banana blossoms, bunga kantan and moringa flowers.
That local idea is carried through with the use of ingredients such as sago pearls, glutinous rice and local herbs. Even nasi lemak gets a makeover with the use of the good-for-you moringa flowers that taste like mushrooms!
"In thinking about the recipes, the things that I focused on was taste, ease of preparation, how delicious it would be, and also emphasised using local ingredients," she added.
Mohana worked on the cookbook for about nine months from its concept, writing and shooting the dishes, until it was published in November last year.
The 60 recipes from salads, soups, mains, desserts and drinks cover a wide range of cuisines from Malaysia, Mexican, French and even fusion. Mohana who grew up in Myanmar also pays tribute to her vivid memories of the country in the cookbook.
The cookbook holds a special place for Mohana, “I hope you will find as much joy in the recipes and inspirational quotes that fill this book as they have brought meaning, love and light into my life."
If you're curious about the secret to Mohana's vitality, she reveals that there's no miracle or magic formula. "We all know that we need to add more fruits and vegetables into our diet. That I think is the first step. I think, most importantly, eat what you enjoy, eat in moderation try to eat healthy about 80 per cent of the time and indulge the rest of the time."
She also emphasises a positive outlook in life where one should not get stressed over food or diet.
"Relax, enjoy, stop and smell the flowers and make a conscious effort to understand what you are eating. What suits one does not suit the other and you don’t have to follow what everyone else is doing. But find for yourself what works, what makes you happy and what is sustainable."
Flowerlicious: For Healthy Living, Longevity and Wellness is available at MPH (you can order at mphonline.com) and other leading bookshops.
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