Sago, or sabudana as we popularly call it, dates back to the late 1800s. Made by extracting starch from the tapioca root, sago was an integral part of Chinese cuisine for thousands of years, before arriving in India as an import from Southeast Asia in the 1940s. New claims suggest that it has now become the superfood of 2022. But is it the only superfood taking over this year? We talked to different chefs from across various cuisines about what they think is the superfood of 2022, and here’s what they thought:

KOKUM

Suggested by: Chef Raveena Taurani, founder of Yogisattva

“The hottest superfood right now is kokum. It is a tropical summer fruit with a tangy taste. It works great in a beverage or a curry, especially during the summer season as it cools the body, aids in digestion, and is known to elevate your mood. In order to avoid dehydration or a heat stroke, which the summer season often brings along, kokum sherbet is the best remedy to load your body with nutrients.”

CALUMPANG NUTS (CHAROLI)

Suggested by Chef Karishma Sakhrani

“The humble nut, Charoli (also known as Almondette in English) that you find on top of your bowl of kheer, is more than just a garnish. This sweet, nutty kernel, thanks to the goodness of its essential bioactive ingredients, is widely used for regulating diabetes, managing cough and cold, treating digestive anomalies and bloating, enhancing cardiac functioning, preventing skin infections, and diminishing urinary problems, and much more. I soak a teaspoon of charoli overnight, and consume it first thing in the morning. Making it a part of my daily routine is the best way to get all the micronutrients in. I make a superfood bowl every morning. It tastes delicious and makes me look forward to this dose of goodness.”

MAHUA FLOWERS

Suggested by Vanika Choudhary, chef and founder of Noon and Sequel

“Mahua flowers (the forgotten indigenous fruit) are in season from February to April. Mahua leaves have traditionally been used as a medicine for rheumatism, while the flowers have been used to make alcohol. Chef Gufran from Noon shared his native recipe with us in the kitchen as he spent his childhood in a village in central UP and remembers his grandmother using fresh mahua flowers to make whole wheat parathas, cooked on the charcoal. She would hand pound these fresh flowers with spices, and then use them as a stuffing. You could also use dried mahua flowers, and stuff them into your parathas. Not so long ago, mahua seed oil was used in many villages in north India, and I still use it as a moisturiser because it has a ghee-like texture. If the oil is extracted properly, it doesn’t have any toxic compounds.”

TAHINI

Suggested by Arnez Driver, head chef, La Pôz Place & Santé Spa Cuisine

“Tahini, for basic understanding, is a nut-based butter made from sesame seeds. It’s the perfect superfood as it has several health benefits all packed in one delightful paste. Firstly, it has high protein content, making it a perfect ingredient for all low carb diets. Tahini is also a great source of vitamin B and vitamin E. Several minerals like magnesium, copper, phosphorus, manganese, iron, and zinc are also present. This ingredient is also a great source of omega 3 fatty acid, which is not very common. It is great for heart health, bones, and flawless skin. Its original use is to make mezze such as hummus and moutabel, but can also be used to make a salad dressing. More innovative uses are to incorporate tahini in desserts such as cookies and cheesecakes.”

HEMP SEEDS

Suggested by Chef Hanoze Shroff, executive chef for Mumbai, Passcode Hospitality

“Hemp seeds are an amazing source of complete protein with a high amount of unsaturated fat. Hemp seeds have many dietary benefits like improving gut health, reducing appetite, and controlling body weight. They can be used in many different ways but the best way to cook them is to treat them like lentils — you can use them in chaats, dals, halwa, etc. Hemp oil is very in omega 3 fatty acids, it has a very high mineral content, reduces heart disease, and provides slow-release energy throughout the day. Hemp flour can also be used making cookies, batters, and cakes. It can also be added to breads like sourdough and chapatis flour mixes, to provide nutritional value.”

FERMENTED SUPERFOODS

Suggested by Sarfaraz Ahmed, Head chef at Tresind Mumbai

“We all have consumed good bacteria in dosas, idli, dhokla, or yoghurt traditionally. As more and more people now are becoming aware of several health benefits because of their consumption, bacteria and yeast-laden food are becoming a popular choice among customers. Fermented foods, when consumed in moderation, are beneficial for digestion, and gut health, and boost our immunity. Chefs around the world are using this technique and products very creatively. Fermented products are finding their place even in the desserts. We at Tresind Mumbai have lacto-fermented ice cream as one of our new desserts.”