Divya Jagasia: the nutritionist with a passion for pulses

***Rachel Khoo would like to thank all the inspiring people who helped make the Khoollect studio a hive of creativity. Although the Khoollect studio’s doors have now closed, you can keep up with Rachel’s newest adventures on RachelKhoo.com and on Rachel’s Instagram and Facebook pages – and, continue to enjoy the Khoollect website’s stories and recipes, which will remain available.***

Meet Divya Jagasia. Born in India, raised in New York and now residing in Stockholm, Sweden, She’s a qualified nutritionist, recipe developer, and blogger… and somewhere along the way she ended up chairwoman of the Swedish Legume Society. This girl is crazy about pulses!

A Day in the Life of Divya Jagasia

Tell us about your day job?

I have a degree in food science and nutrition, so I develop recipes that make sense nutritionally as well as taste delicious. I also love translating meat dishes into plant-based versions because it can make things more interesting for vegans and vegetarians, plus it’s another way to be creative.

I’m currently working with a company that tries to grow new types of legumes in Sweden. The varieties that thrive are passed on to me and I get to play around with them – sprouting them, milling them into flours and then plugging them into recipes to see how they behave.

Divya of Shoots and Tendrils

 Have you always been passionate about food and nutrition?

I’ve grown up in a very food-centric culture where my grandmother and mother always tried to give me reasons for eating fish and goat brain! My family communicates through food; we never ask each other how we are, instead we talk about what we’re cooking or eating. Ninety percent of our conversations revolve around food, which is something my Swedish husband is slowly getting used to.

I became the sole vegetarian in my family 19 years ago and picked up nutrition tips along the way, but it wasn’t until I actually studied it that I really understood the basics. Food can be medicine and nourishment, and there’s constant research reflecting this. I’m fascinated by all the latest findings and try to use them in my recipes.

What about your obsession with legumes – how did that come about?

I definitely took legumes for granted during my childhood years in India. When I moved to America, I was naturally fascinated with its cuisine even after becoming vegetarian. It wasn’t really until I moved to Sweden six years ago that I re-discovered my roots. As a vegetarian, legumes offer nutrients such as protein, iron, folic acid and even fiber, which satiates.

shoots and tendrils blog

What do you love most about your job?

I love creating new products by thinking outside the box using legumes. I love being an ambassador for legumes. Did I mention they’re a great crop to grow for environmental reasons? They have nitrogen-fixing properties which provide fertilizer to other plants in the area.

What’s your biggest achievement to date?

Studying food science and nutrition in Swedish, a language I only learned two years before joining university. This was a huge challenge and I’m proud to have seen it through.

Becoming the chairwoman of the Swedish Legume Society (Baljväxtakademin) is also a big achievement for me, because I believes legumes are the sustainable answer for our future and there are so many ways to manipulate them into all kinds of exciting foods.

What’s your favourite food?

It’s hard to pick just one, but I’d choose my Friday Night Nachos: I make a giant batch of my smokey three-bean stew and add them to baked blue corn tortilla chips with some cheese, romaine lettuce, guacamole, a drizzle of yogurt, my habanero hot sauce and pickled jalapeños. The crunch, smokiness, creaminess, sourness and spiciness work perfectly together. Plus my version is healthy.

How did you come to be involved with Khoollect?

I was lucky to meet Rachel in Stockholm, she’s such an inspiring woman, and I loved the idea of Khoollect. I’m elated to be contributing to it.

Best Kept Secrets

I khoollect a few …

I don’t mean to seem predictable, but I collect different kinds of pulses whenever I travel. I love discovering their texture and flavour – they’re all so unique. I found some really cool, psychedelic heirloom beans on my last trip to California. I never want to eat them because they look so pretty in glass jars.

What’s your favourite item in your khoollection? 

My most treasured possession is my grandmother’s dried fenugreek leaves. She hand washed and dried them herself in 2010 before she passed away, and she gifted them to me. I still have a quarter cup left and use them only for special occasions. Her soul is in them; there was always soul in her food.

A life lesson that you’d tell your younger self?

Accept and love yourself just the way you are and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Your go-to recipe for a healthy and satisfying (and quick) mid-week dinner?

My Basic Daal. You can find the recipe on my blog Shoots and Tendrils.

Urban Favourites

Where do you call home?

I have roots in many different continents, but Stockholm is home for now.

What do you love most about it?

I love the bakeries and cafes where I meet my friends for breakfast or fika (coffee/tea + something sweet). Most people speak English and are friendly, there’s beautiful architecture, great bakeries and beautiful nature too.

Best coffee joint?

Kaffebar for coffee as well as breakfast. Their organic coffee tastes amazing and their delicious sandwich breads and baked goods come from Valhallabageriet.
Best bakery?
Petrus for biscuits and pastries and Green Rabbit for the most moist almond cakes flavoured with seasonal fruits and berries.
Favourite restaurant?
  • New Lilla India for Kashmiri Gobi (cauliflower) and Palak Paneer
  • Nem Nem Quan for Vietnamese
  • Ho’s for Chinese (order Schezuan Tofu as well as Black Bean Tofu for the most amazingly textured tofu you’ll ever have!)
  • Flippin’ Burgers for the best veggie burger ever made with beans, quinoa, nuts and seeds and the perfect textured bite
Best place to source fresh produce?
In the fall, I shop at my local farmers market. Rosendals Trädgård has biodynamic produce all summer. I enjoy a big bunch of fresh coriander which can always be found at Taj Mahal Livs. Foraging is big in Sweden and it’s so rewarding to pick your own mushrooms in the fall and nettles in the spring.
The best nook in the city for reading or writing?

I’m partial to Kaffebar because they’re friendly, offer free wifi, ample seating and great coffee and food.

Best green space or park?

Djurgården has beautiful views of both woods and water.

How do you spend a lazy Sunday?

Preparing a generous feast to be enjoyed while watching a good film with my husband.

If not in Stockholm, where would you be?

Los Angeles. It’s got the weather, the location, ambiance, as well as a really creative vegetarian food scene that’s way beyond New York. But I would like to say New York, so that I can be with my cat BumbleBee who I left with my parents when I moved to Sweden.

Read Divya’s article on why legumes are the new meat, or her simple tips for turning your diet around.

Do you live in Stockholm or visited recently? Tell us about your favourite foodie spots in the comments below.

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