If this article were a painting, it would be a meld between Martin Johnson’s ‘Sunlight and Shadow’ and Mitch Gobel’s ‘Free Falling’. Lightness of sunrays, the perkiness of nature in the day combined with solitude, silence and magic of our mind in the night.
As a child, I was infinitely drawn to climbers with stringy tendrils, wild mushrooms growing at the foot of a big, moist tree, tiny shells in a sandpit- all of which have transitioned to a more intense friendship with nature, the sound of dark glittery silence during my intermittent meditation sessions and a glass of raw cucumber-ginger-basil juice most mornings.
So on a balmy morning, when I was about 9 or 10, I went around my neighbourhood to collect all ingredients that would be a delight to crush. And I had brought home lime leaves, a raw lime, some flowers dripping with milky sap, a couple of soap nuts and berries. An impatient rinse later, I would sit down to crush them with a pestle and emerge with an inedible, apparent magic potion - the elixir of diseases and a boring day.
Ten years later, I am intrigued by a similar naturally-made magic potion, only one that is actually an elixir AND also consumable, Kombucha. The origin of Kombucha is cloudy- maybe China, Europe or somewhere in Russia. But this pungent concoction surely separates people in two- one who love it and one who can’t stand it.
I happened to just be absorbed in the details of this sweet and slightly alcoholic drink. While plans to brew my own Kombucha started to ferment my mind, so did my research. Elementary stages of my research led me to Rebekah Blank, an interesting, collected and accomplished person in the holistic living space in India. She is the co-founder of Atmosphere Kombucha and founder of Fabcafé, a modern food space for healthy Indian inspired food. Minutes later, I was texting her about her business, life mantra, mindful living, kombucha of course and this is what she had to say...
Q. How has the lockdown affected Fabcafé and Atmosphere Kombucha?
A. The lockdown has been tough especially for Fabcafé. We've seen a big dip in business which likely isn't going to bounce back anytime soon. We're now focusing on delivery and hoping to launch some healthy meal plans soon. At Atmosphere, we've struggled with staying open in terms of people coming to work and getting passes but since Atmosphere is an e-commerce business it is doing just fine. We also launched an online health and nutrition program at the beginning of the lockdown which has done extremely well, we've had over 100 people join and it's really helped people stay healthy and sane during this time!
Artisan-made, handcrafted, natural and raw
Q. With lockdown relaxations now in place, what is next for the two?
A. At Fabcafé we're taking things as they come, some of our restaurants will be closing but most of them are opening for delivery as soon as they can get permits. We're also working on launching some packaged products to help people stay healthy from home. Atmosphere is gearing up to launch a couple of new summer flavours. This is our favourite time of year because there are just so many exciting fruit options. We're also offering a kombucha subscription offer so that people can have a more regular supply during the lockdown and at better rates. Atmosphere will soon be launching a line of online programs as well called Atmosphere Wellness which will be mini-courses in nutrition, gut health, hormone balancing and healthy cooking.
Kombucha infused with raspberries, strawberries, lemon with activated charcoal stirred in
Q. Tell us about yourself and your mantra in life
A. I've recently been training to be a yoga teacher. I love moving and grew up doing a lot of hiking in the Himalayas with my family. I believe in living a balanced life, without stress. Everything works out sooner or later when we stay optimistic. I have a fairly intense wellness routine, I wake up early, consume lemon water and then dive into 2 hours of breathwork and mindful movement. After that I usually have kombucha and then breakfast. I eat a fairly healthy diet, I avoid all grains and most dairy eating mostly fruit, vegetables and organic meat. During the lockdown my husband got a small swimming pool to put on our veranda and it's really kept me sane- I just love being outside! As soon as things open up I'm really looking forward to going up to Uttarakhand for a couple of days to take long quiet walks in the forest and spend some time in nature.
Q. Your Instagram feed feels so fresh and rejuvenating, we’re sure it has to do with your lifestyle. So what is your journey with health and holistic living?
A. I grew up as an athlete and so I had an interest in wellness from a young age mostly focusing on eating well for athletic performance. In college, I got really into cooking and sourcing from organic farms and ended up working as a chef for a while. I spent the first few years of my career working in China as a computer programmer and during that time I struggled with a lot of gut and hormonal issues which led me to start doing lots of research into gut health, hormones and nutrition. Since I've always loved cooking I started to explore healthy cooking, especially in terms of grain-free, dairy-free and gluten-free diets. I started to feel a lot better, I had so much more energy, confidence, mental clarity that I decided that I wanted to change careers to help more people feel the way I was, consuming a healthy diet. I moved back to India and soon after that Fabcafé and Atmosphere Kombucha were born. I believe health is such an important part of feeling happy and fulfilled in life and as a professional, I just want to make products that make healthy living easier and more convenient for people.
Q. How did gut health help transform your life?
A. Your gut hosts 70% of your immune system. And many of our brain chemicals are made in the gut, this means that the healthier your gut, the healthier and happier you feel. For me eating healthy involved cutting our foods that were causing inflammation in my gut, these were grains, dairy and sugar. Once I started this I began to feel much more energetic, clear-headed and light.
Q. Any easy recipe to maintain great gut health?
A. Cauliflower rice is a great addition to my life.
All you need is:
1 big head of Cauliflower, 1 tbsp of ghee or any oil, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp pink salt and 1/2 cup cooked peas.
Grind the cauliflower until it is just coarse.
Toss in some olive oil in a pan and add cumin seeds.
Then add the cauliflower, pink salt and cooked peas.
Stir and wait until it is cooked.
I eat it regularly with my meals in place of rice and it helps me feel much lighter and healthier.
Watch her make it here- https://www.instagram.com/p/B-HDxvOpkZ4/
Q. What are your plans for the future and what do you think is the future of kombucha in India?
A. It’s hard to think too far ahead right now but this year we are planing a bunch of online health and nutrition courses. Other than that I’ll be here in Delhi, all travel plans have been cancelled. The kombucha market is growing a lot, I see it doubling over the next year or two.
Written by Yashila Nara
Illustrated by Vaishnavi Devi
You can follow them on Instagram @yashilaaa and @vaishnavi_devi22