Her debut book “Gorgeous” has recipes and fitness mantras from stars like Priyanka Chopra, Trisha Krishnan, Malaika Arora Khan among others.

What do models really eat Former model turned author Shvetha Jaishankar spills the beans
Features Lifestyle Tuesday, December 20, 2016 - 15:00

She’s a Jill of all trades – a former Miss India International, an MBA graduate, and now the author of her very first book, “Gorgeous”. Shvetha Jaishankar, who walked the ramp for some of the biggest names in India during her modelling career, celebrates food, demystifies myths about what models really eat, and takes readers into a culinary journey with her cookbook. With recipes and fitness mantras from stars like Priyanka Chopra, Trisha Krishnan, Malaika Arora Khan, and Milind Soman among others, “Gorgeous” promises to give you the inspiration you need to get into shape.  

Shevtha spoke to The News Minute ahead of the book’s launch in Chennai.  

This is your first book. Why did you decide to do one on food and fitness?

Basically, I find food central to my life, to anyone’s life. It’s an important part of occasions, celebrations and I enjoy food. As I aged, I wanted to eat food that I like, but also feel my best.

Another motivation for me to write the book was that I wasn’t well for some time – the food I ate was bothering me. I was in hospital for a while. I needed to eat food that would heal me.  At the ground level, this was my experiment with food. These are the two experiences that made me interested in writing the book.

Having been a model, I touched base with a lot of friends in the industry. We have a come a long way since our modelling days. I realised that I struggled with balance. That’s how the conversation started.  

There are a lot of myths around what models eat – they starve, they’re always working out. So, what do models really eat? 

I wanted to dispel myths about what models eat in my book. They are conscious about food, meaning they take care of themselves. People think they lead unhealthy lives – they travel a lot, they sleep late, etc. But the truth is models who want to be successful have to create a balanced life. We used to travel a lot and try foods of the local country.

As far as working out is concerned, those from any field will work out – it gives you energy. Once you figure out balance, you can eat what you like.

What kind of regimen did you follow during your modelling days? And what is it like now? Has it changed over the years?

It has changed a lot. I was much younger when I was a model. The body is different, you feel different. I had a light-hearted approach to fitness back then. As you grow older, your circle of influence goes away. You have less time in the real world. I had an office routine, I had kids after some time. All I had to do was take care of myself back then. Now I have less time to take care of myself, with kids and a family. As you grow older, your body structure changes, you have to listen to your body.

I grew up eating south Indian food – poriyal, idlis, sambhar. I like rotis and daal sabzi. I like to experiment – I love Italian and south east Asian food. I joke that I don’t have a sweet tooth, I have sweet teeth.  I still have all of that. Just that, in between, you have to tilt the rhythm. You have to get back on the cycle to keep metabolism high.

And when it comes to fitness, I enjoy strength training, walks – I like to listen to music and reflect on my day. I am not into running or swimming – I do it rarely. I mix it up. Some people enjoy yoga, some people do cycling. It doesn’t matter what someone else is doing, make it fun for yourself. 

There are a lot of fad diets these days – Ketto, Paleo, military diet. And some would say it’s difficult to tailor some of these for an Indian diet? What advice would you give to someone who is serious about shedding a few kilos?

The book has a meal plan. I had post-partum weight on me which I found difficult to shed. The plan is based on scientific principles of Dr Tusna Park, a health consultant based in Chennai. She suggested eating carbs at night, which I found hard to believe.  But I decided to give it a try. The meal plan lets you eat anything. It’s a way of life. It helped me lose weight and it fit into my schedule.  I also spoke to scores of people who were on her meal plan.

It’s a social buzzkill if you don’t eat carbs, imagine saying, “Pass me the carrot sticks instead of pad thai.” The meal plan ticked off a lot of boxes. And it has something for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. This meal plan is the highlight of the book.

It’s the end of the year and it’s the festive season – what advice can you give people who want to partake in the festivities yet not worry about putting on weight?

It is a festival seasons, so be good company. I would say, eat with relish but reflection.

Any personal favourite recipes you’d like to tease us with?

There’s a twist on Lasagna using elai vadam sheets. There’s a roasted red pepper soup with a chicken and vegetarian option. There’s a baguette recipe using chicken and cucumber. And there’s also a blueberry chocolate mousse, which is an indulgence. There’s also a Manathakkali keerai soup which is flavoursome.

I enjoyed putting it together. Most of the recipes are simple, tasty and healthy. You can eat right 80% and let go 20%.

You’ve modelled for some of the biggest brands, you have an MBA, now a book. What’s next?

I feel each of my experiments add to something. The book brought me back to the fashion world. I don’t know what next.

Here’s a taste of what’s in store in “Gorgeous”:

Lobster Phulka Pockets

Inspired by the lobster rolls popular in America, this ‘desi’ version uses phulkas instead of pita or bread rolls. Did you know that ‘phulka’ means ‘light-hearted’? Well, this recipe is quite ideal for life’s light-hearted moments. Take it along for a picnic and wash it down with something cold. If lobsters are hard to get or are not your favourite shellfish, you can use prawns instead.

 Prep Time: 20 mins

Cooking Time: 35 mins

Serves: 2


2 phulkas

450g lobster or large prawns

10g (6 sprigs) fresh basil leaves

40g (1½ tbsp) fresh mayonnaise

35g lettuce leaves, finely chopped

5g (1 tsp) chopped fresh parsley

2 ripe tomatoes, diced

1 large avocado, diced in large chunks

1 tbsp of pesto (optional)

Juice of 1 lime

Ripe mango, diced (optional)

Small bunch mustard seed sprouts

Sea salt and white pepper powder to taste

For the phulkas

½ cup whole wheat flour

½ tbsp of sunflower oil

A pinch of salt


Fill a large pot with three-fourths water and add 2 teaspoons of salt for every litre of water. The water should be salty like seawater. Bring the water to boil and add the lobster head first or the prawns. Cover the pot and bring to boil, then turn the heat off, and let the lobster simmer for 15 minutes or so, depending on how large the lobster is. For prawns, simmer for 5 minutes. Once cooked, the lobster/prawns become red.

Remove the lobster/prawns with tongs and place on a plate to drain and cool. Break open the shells and remove the meat. Cut into ½ inch dice and place into a mixing bowl. In a blender, add the mayonnaise and the chopped basil leaf and blend together until well mixed and the mayonnaise is a light green colour. Mix the paste into the diced lobseter/prawns and season as needed. Next, mix the diced tomatoes and avocado chunks along with lime juice and set aside.

Make the phulkas by first kneading the ingredients into a firm dough by adding a little water. Add in the oil and knead further until smooth. Set the dough aside for 15 minutes. Divide the dough into 4 balls and roll each one into thin discs of 6 inches each with a rolling pin. You can dust the pin with some flour during the process to prevent sticking or you can place a clean zip-lock cut in half underneath the dough to help with the rolling.

Pre-heat an iron skillet at medium heat. Place one of the discs in the centre of the skillet and once air bubbles form on the surface, flip the disc over. Using a pair of tongs, cook the discs directly on an open flame so that it puffs up. Once it puffs up, immediately take out from the flame.  Repeat this for the rest of the dough balls to make 4 phulkas in total.

To serve

Tear each phulka in half to create two ‘pockets’. Place the phulka pockets, the chopped lettuce, the lobster/prawn mix, finely chopped fresh parsley and lime wedges in separate plates for serving. Just before eating, take a phulka pocket, spoon in some lobster/prawn mix, chopped lettuce and a bit of fresh parsley, squeeze on some lime juice if you wish and eat right away.

Mangoes, when in season, can be diced and added to the phulka stuffing along with the avocadoes and tomatoes.


Multi-hued Bibimbap bowl (Korean rice with assorted vegetables)

It’s easy to find great Korean food in Chennai because of the number of Koreans who live in the city, and that’s how I discovered some amazing dishes such as bibimbap and soondubu-jiggae. I have my bibimbap without my meat so here is a meatless version of this delicious and healthy complete meal in a bowl.

Prep time: 20 mins

Cooking time: 25 mins

Serves: 3-4


For the crisp rice

3 tbsp sesame oil

8 cups steamed white rice (made from 2 ½ cups raw rice) or use leftover rice from the day before

Extra toppings

Bean sprouts

Carrots, julienned and tossed in sesame oil

Mushrooms (shitake and button), sliced and tossed in light soya sauce

Zucchini, julienned and tossed in sesame oil

Spinach leaves, tossed with garlic and sesame seeds

3 or 4 eggs, 1 for each serving

Sea salt to taste

Korean seasoned seaweed, shredded (optional)

Bibimbap sauce

½ cup Korean gochujang sauce or Korean red chilli paste (an alternative for gochujang is 2 tbsp of harissa paste)

2 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp rice vinegar

2 tsp sesame seeds

In a bowl mix all the ingredients for the sauce and set aside for use


Crisp rice and assembly

In a heavy based omelette-sized pan, heat half the oil and add the cooked or leftover rice. Spread out in an even layer and cook on a medium heat, stirring once in a while until the rice is golden and crisp on bottom. Usually about 15 minutes depending on the heat you are using.

Fry the eggs sunny side up and keep aside. In bowls, add the crispy rice, top with any of the extras you would like to add. Spoon over the bibimbap sauce and top with one of the fried eggs per bowl.

Each bowl will be a complete meal and the colours and textures of the veggies, rice and sauce will look very attractive and complementary.

You can buy the book here.