“You have a sore throat. And don’t you think you are hungry?” asks Purnima Siddhanta, ayurvedic doctor at Zehen, as soon as she feels my pulse. I had been hoping that the soothing classical notes playing in the background would camouflage the rumblings of my tummy but the pulse treacherously gives it away. After an extensive session with Siddhanta and nutritional therapist Kay Van Beersum, I emerge a reformed person, well on my way to a fitter and healthier lifestyle. Half an hour later, almost as if the doctors had sensed a slight wavering of determination, a customised meal plan makes an appearance in my mail.
Personalised consultations such as these take place regularly in the plush environs of Zehen, a new by-invitation only, private members’ club at The Manor, a boutique hotel in New Delhi. The chosen members are treated to the special Z circuit which includes curated fitness sessions, ayurvedic massages, specialised yoga sessions and alternate therapies and a unique ‘Food for Thought’ menu that features an array of 300 dishes created by master chef Manish Mehrotra.
The ‘food for thought bento box at Zehen
“They didn’t allow me to put any butter or cream in the dish and yet asked me to create tasty food,” laughs Mehrotra. “Everything that is available in nature has something good and something not-so-good to offer. The idea is to balance it out. Using this as a premise, and after consulting Kay and Purnima, I created the menu.”
So, peanuts have been replaced by walnuts and almonds, the spaghetti features zucchini, biryani is made from quinoa and the pizza is made with an uttapam base and a sprinkling of wild mushrooms. Instead of iodised salt, he has used sendha namak (rock salt) and red salt, and refined sugar has been eliminated from the recipes. There are three parts to the menu — the daily changing thali offers ghar ka khana like dal, subzi, gluten-free roti, poha, sabudana, soup and more. “There is a different thali for every day of the month. The weekly changing à la carte menu features dishes such as cucumber rolls, Himalayan red rice, cashewnut cream, ash roasted sweet potato salad, slow stewed lamb with coriander and mint couscous. Then there is the all-day dining menu that has items like chane ki chaat, churan ka makhana and brown rice kheer to satisfy your cravings.
“Usually people go to wellness retreats for two weeks where they do everything right. And then you come back and don’t follow the regime at home,” says Wellness Director Rachel Lowe Mukherji. The idea behind Zehen is to make wellness a part of the members’ consciousness. But how does it differ from the various clubs like Belvedere and The Chambers at luxury hotels in India? “Those are more corporate. I think the closest Zehen comes to is the Soho House in New York and London,” says Mukherji.
The members’ terrace at Zehen
The team is not willing to reveal the number of members or the fee as it is still early days. “We have a committee to choose members from a database. After some time, referrals will add to the numbers as well,” says Mukherji.
An emerging favourite is the healing room with its beamer mattress that pulsates with electromagnetic energy, similar to the kind that you get from earth. Then there is the hydrotherapy room where a machine generates currents that you need to swim against. A therapist also offers the Watsu water massage, as part of which a therapist supports your back in water and massages the pressure points.
The calendar features a culinary demo by Mehrotra, Maharishi transcendental meditation, kickboxing workshop by Earl Jesse, a session on three namaskars with celebrity therapist Neesha Singh, introduction to yoga by Sara pilot and a farmers’ market, among other things.