Review: Grab a healthy meal of brown rice biryani and vegan pies at wellness restaurant Orka in Jubilee Hills
If Nobin John, the new fitness icon that Hyderabad is crushing over, could have his way, there would be no concept called cheat meal, because healthy food, he believes, is so tasty that one can binge without having to cheat or feel guilty. With this trust that healthy is tasty, he set up Orka Cafe and Restaurant a month ago in Jubilee Hills. After having struggled with obesity since he was a 10-year-old, he decided to embrace fitness and right eating. This Kerala boy, who also runs FixMyNutrition wellness project, is all about creating a feel-good meal with good ingredients and right cooking processes.
The two-floor eatery on Road no 53, Jubilee Hills, is a burst of green with a walkway covered with a green canopy of creepers and a little ‘plant island’ with over 20 plants placed strategically to give it a resort-like feel. The lower level houses a sun-washed informal café and pastry shop while the upper level is the restaurant.
Eat to heal
“Food is the best healer. I did over five years of research to come up with these recipes,” he says. We started with Pink Detox, a fresh salad with watermelon and dragon fruit with a pink, salty creamy dressing topped with walnuts. The crunch was in place, thanks to the quality of the fruit and a hint of pink salt. Then it was my turn to dig into the Hyderabadi Brown Rice Chicken Biryani. He also turned the tables on Hyderabad by not just adding almonds to biryani (unthinkable in the city), but making it healthy too. “Brown rice means fewer calories and light on your tummy. It doesn’t mess up your sugar levels,” he says. As a biryani connoisseur, this plate of delight won me over and made me rethink of the oily and masala-rich biryanis I had in the past. It took his team five months of trial and error to come up with a healthy biryani that Hyderabadis will give a nod to. We heard him reeling out some numbers for the veg version: Protein — 25 gm, Net carbs: 58 gm and fats: 39 gm.
Biryani goes healthy
The all-day diner also boasts of an exhaustive wellness breakfast featuring a wide range from the superfood upma (quinoa plus whole masalas and curry leaves) to the exotic-sounding Calm Buddha (chicken and sticky rice balanced with sauteed carrots, fluffy omelette and a secret sauce). The mention of calories underneath the item description is a diet watcher’s delight. Surprisingly, I felt satiated with just a couple of items in the menu and I moved to the dessert, Vegan Kiwi Avocado Pie which was delightful with avocado filling and nuts all over. Nobin suggested their tea sommelier’s favourite Rosy Oolong Tea. The brew was poured into a transparent cup with a strainer attached. After letting the liquid and the dried rose petals settle, I took a sip. Heavenly and healthy were the keywords that floated in my mind.
Price for two: Rs.1,200.