For the past few years, the farm-to-table craze has bewitched many home cooks in India. This could be because many have started shifting their habit of consuming processed food, a routine we adapted from the West, to something organic. This is where May Fridel comes in.
May is a food literacy advocate promoting the culture of growing and harvesting produce from the backyard garden and utilizing it in everyday cooking. When May, a Keralite born in Chathannur, reached the United States following her American dream, little did she realize that her lifestyle was going to change. The decision to change her wonderful career from a knowledge engineer to a culinary expert took shape when she realized that her son had food allergies because of the dependence on processed foods. That’s how her spice line, ‘Passion for Spices,’ was born. May says that processed foods must be blamed for the unhealthy lifestyle and the rise of diabetes among the people in the US.
May is a connoisseur of food and is the author of Indian Cuisine Diabetes Cookbook, validated by the American Diabetes Association. In her book, May breaks down the health benefits of basic and exotic Indian spices. Laying stress on a healthy eating philosophy, her cookbook helps the reader make non-processed meals from scratch in no time.
Most people think that food made for diabetic patients are bland and tasteless. May Fridel’s mission is to let people know that one need not compromise on flavor. Instead, we should rely on specific techniques to spice up the dish. She also collaborates with leading hospitals and resorts and promotes the concept of sustainable kitchen.
“My family is one of the spice merchants from Kerala. Though I settled in the US, I retained my fascination for cultural diversity centered around food, particularly the spices associated with my family and its spice estates. Coming from a tradition where fresh foods are prepared in a seasonally appropriate and wholesome manner, I wanted to share that wisdom with my friends in the West,” says May.
“Most of our Indian spices have many health benefits and medicinal properties. Very few understand its importance. I decided to share my knowledge of food and impart it to others through cooking classes. There is also a way to use certain types of vessels and most people are not aware of this,” May says. She recommends cast-iron vessels and says no to non-stick ones.
“Eat in moderation and in the right combination,” is May’s mantra for a healthy living. May believes in preserving old culture and heritage and using spices in different ways, focusing on its health benefits. She also believes in making a dish look good and colorful. Her husband, Frank Fridel, and son Mathew also support her in the mission to promote a healthy and active lifestyle.
Tips for readers: May’s morning mantra – A glass of lukewarm water with half a lemon squeezed. She says this will cleanse the body of all toxins.
Signature dish: Turkey meatballs, grilled and steamed.
Go for: Natural sea salt, olive oil
Food philosophy: More spice, less fat
Next project: A culinary travel program including chefs from 5 countries and introducing them to Kerala cuisine and its health benefits.