You gained’t discover chef Kaiser Lashkari, the artistic power behind Houston’s fashionable Indian-Pakistani restaurant Himalaya, giving up on taste for his private vitamin plan.
He’s additionally not the kind to spend hours at a gymnasium, lifting weights or pounding out the miles on a treadmill.
“What’s a gym?” Lashkari responds with amusing, when requested what his health routine was earlier than COVID-19.
Chef Lashkari is just too busy greeting visitors at his restaurant — and getting ready dishes within the kitchen.
“The kind of work we do doesn’t allow us time to go to the gym,” Lashkari mentioned. “No, I never went.”
Himalaya by no means closed in the course of the coronavirus. Instead, the restaurant stayed hopping, providing meals to-go earlier than indoor eating resumed.
“We never closed for pick up, not even a single day,” Lashkari mentioned.
Still, the uncertainty that comes with COVID-19 elevated his stress stage. His sleep and consuming habits turned irregular. Before lengthy, Lashkari realized his blood sugar was going uncontrolled.
And that was one thing he took severely.
Lashkari really pursued medical college within the 1980s, earlier than admitting to his dad and mom that his dream profession was in a kitchen, not an inspecting room.
“I was two years short of being a doctor,” Lashkari mentioned. “Then I told them my heart was in cooking, and they were devastated. Thanks to the media, and to the Food Network, now chefs are stars.”
His training in drugs ended up coming in helpful a number of years in the past, the chef mentioned, when he was identified as pre-diabetic. He knew that blood sugar spikes couldn’t be ignored. Besides, he has a household historical past with diabetes, which drove dwelling the dire significance of managing his well being.
“My mom was diabetic, and her mom was diabetic,” Lashkari mentioned. “My mom’s brother and sister had diabetes. You see your loved ones suffer from this disease — and die from it — and that put the fear of God in me.”
He determined to begin strolling his option to higher well being. He additionally reduce out carbohydrates.
“I changed my habits,” he mentioned. “And that was very hard.”
Lashkari has now dropped 40 kilos.
“I feel so much healthier,” he mentioned.
Lashkari earned his grasp’s diploma from the University of Houston’s Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management in 1989. After working for Westin Hotels and instructing at Houston Community College, he opened Kaiser Restaurant and Catering in 1993.
Then, in 2004, he began Himalaya on Hillcroft Ave, also referred to as the Mahatma Gandhi District.
Making scrumptious meals from recent elements is Lashkari’s ardour. He was a James Beard Semi-Finalist in 2019. In addition, Himalaya was rated No. 9 quantity 9 in meals critic Alison Cook’s “Top 100 Houston Restaurants” record, and has positioned within the prime 15 in earlier years.
When Anthony Bourdain visited the town in 2016 to movie an episode of “Parts Unknown,” Himalaya took heart stage.
Bourdain dined on inexperienced curry rooster, steak tikka and an Indian-style pastrami — a number of of Lashkari’s distinctive creations, impressed by his time in Pakistan and in Texas.
The chef enjoys riffing on Mexican, Indian, Pakistani and Texan flavors.
“It’s Indo-Tex,” Lashkari mentioned. “We have a steak that’s our take on a fajita. We have green chicken curry that’s our salsa verde. We have chicken fried chicken and brisket.”
There’s even HFC, or Himalaya fried rooster, made the “Southern way” however with Indian spices. The Keema, or floor lamb cooked in a masala sauce, is described on the menu as a dish that “closely resembles Texas chili.”
Traditional desserts are joined by a mango tres leches and an almond custard that’s like flan with a twist.
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Now, Lashkari is including wholesome objects to the menu, impressed by his personal journey.
For instance, he gives cauliflower tortillas as an alternative of nan or papadum, a crispy flatbread made with lentil flour.
Customers who’re limiting their carbs can benefit from the restaurant’s grilled objects.
Lashkari can also be serving Houston-made ChipMonk cookies, that are sugar-free and use monk fruit for a sweetener. The cookies are additionally gluten-free and keto.
Jose Hernandez, co-founder of ChimpMonk Baking, mentioned that Lashkari reached out to his firm with an invite to the restaurant.
“What he really wanted to do is create a dessert option on his menu that would be healthier,” Hernandez mentioned.
Hernandez was identified with Type 2 diabetes about 4 years in the past. He requested for options on the menu that might adhere to his weight loss plan, and tried grilled meats and papadum.
“It was great,” Hernandez mentioned. “I loved it. All restaurants can do something like this, maybe offering different sides even, to increase the health aspects of a meal. People are more health-conscious. I feel like you have to accommodate that.”
He is getting ready to launch a Facebook web page about discovering keto choices in Houston, and Himalaya shall be his first featured restaurant.
“The trend is there,” he mentioned. “It’s a good idea for restaurants to have a couple of items on their menu.”
Hernandez mentioned that he and Lashkari linked over the significance of understanding a diabetes diagnosis.
“A lot of people don’t take diabetes seriously until it’s uncontrollable,” Lashkari mentioned. “It’s not like other diseases, where you feel fever or pain or something more severe.”
Instead, he defined, people would possibly discover elevated thirst, starvation or fatigue.
“You start feeling tired, getting up at night, have pain in your joints,” Lashkari mentioned. “Then it damages your heart and your kidneys.”
He defined that problems from diabetes can come up, like coronary heart assault, stroke, imaginative and prescient and listening to loss and foot injury.
“It’s devastating and debilitating,” Lashkari mentioned. “Diabetes can be a killer.”
Still, taking easy measures like strolling and reducing carbs could make an amazing distinction, he mentioned — and he’s dwelling proof.
“Do not take diabetes lightly,” Lashkari mentioned. “Once you have this problem, it only gets worse. A lot of people don’t pay enough attention to the early warning signs.”
Lashkari added that not managing diabetes can add to the chance of COVID-19.
“But corona or no corona, you have to take this very seriously,” he mentioned. “Coronavirus is just an added danger. Taking care of your health all the time is important.”
Lindsay Peyton is a Houston-based freelance author.