The years preceding that India trip were a blur of junk food, frozen meals, takeout meals, digestive issues, and more visits to the doctor than I can count.
My time in India was an absolute contrast. A diet of freshly cooked vegetarian meals prepared and served with love -- combined with the goodness of three super nutritious beans: black gram, green mung, horsegram, and local millet flat breads.
I returned to the US after my trip with better health and deep gratitude for the wisdom of my ancestors. It struck me how their traditional food choices, a combination of beans, grains, pulses, spices, and millets, depended largely on the time of the year and the crop cycle. Even when it came to vegan and gluten-free options, there was no dearth of options, a sharp contrast to the handful of options I had come across in the US.
The more I read up and researched what had turned out to be miracle meals for my health, I had a new resolve: More people needed to benefit from these native grains and beans that I had discovered. It wasn’t just about the nutritional and health benefits that these fast-disappearing grains promised, there was more under the surface, or the soil, if you will.
The gentle zero-till farming, regenerative agricultural practices that farmers used in these smaller farms were the key to improving soil health. These amazing beans and millets were drought and infertile soil -tolerant and a great food solution to the climate change challenges we currently face.
However, I’d seen how these beans and grains were fast vanishing, even in Indian towns. These grains had slowly become limited to villages whose residents were their only consumers. With this dwindling demand, it wouldn’t be long before we lost these ancient beans and millets forever.
And that’s when the first seed of an idea was planted in my head. I knew I needed to do my bit, to help preserve this ancient wisdom that came with these grains and their farming and consumption practices.
Then began my experiments with traditional Indian recipes using these beans and millets. Despite my best intentions and efforts, it was hard to truly appreciate the traditional taste of these black gram, green mung, and horsegram recipes. My family, especially my son, defaulted to the familiar staples, an easier (and far tastier!) choice.
It was time for me to choose: between traditional recipes and traditional grains. It was an easy choice, quite frankly.
On one hand, the thought that future generations might never know these beans and millets was a deeply unsettling one. On the other, making them palatable to the modern taste buds seemed like a challenge I really wanted to sink my teeth into.
And there it was, a resolution I could truly commit to: Channeling ancient wisdom into modern food to preserve a dying history of nutrition-packed grains.
That’s how Svaa Haa grew from a seed of an idea in my head to something that I hope touches your plates, homes, and lives. The name was a natural choice, a throwback to the practice of pre-meal prayers that I had observed during my stay at the Ayurvedic retreat at the start of this journey.
The first step in the next phase of my journey begins with Svaa Haa’s nutrition-packed snacks made from the wholesome goodness of the three magic beans: black gram, green mung, and horsegram.
Svaa Haa is my humble attempt to share the vast wisdom of our ancient food cultures and traditions with you so the next time you reach out for a snack, you have a chance to pick something good for you, the planet, and the communities that work to keep these grains alive and thriving.