Hospital serves up special festive meal for patients

Mr Vungaralu Rajendraprasad Pandurangan being served his Deepavali dinner yesterday. It came with a main course of baked chicken tikka and carrot rice flavoured with herbs to resemble briyani. There was also curried pumpkin soup without cream or coco
Mr Vungaralu Rajendraprasad Pandurangan being served his Deepavali dinner yesterday. It came with a main course of baked chicken tikka and carrot rice flavoured with herbs to resemble briyani. There was also curried pumpkin soup without cream or coconut milk and a dessert of anjeer barfi with 75 per cent less sugar than the traditional recipe.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Mr Vungaralu Rajendraprasad Pandurangan being served his Deepavali dinner yesterday. It came with a main course of baked chicken tikka and carrot rice flavoured with herbs to resemble briyani. There was also curried pumpkin soup without cream or coco
Mr Vungaralu Rajendraprasad Pandurangan being served his Deepavali dinner yesterday. It came with a main course of baked chicken tikka and carrot rice flavoured with herbs to resemble briyani. There was also curried pumpkin soup without cream or coconut milk and a dessert of anjeer barfi with 75 per cent less sugar than the traditional recipe.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Technician Vungaralu Rajendraprasad Pandurangan has been hospitalised for the past three weeks and had to give the Deepavali festivities at home a miss.

When asked what he missed the most, he said it was the mutton curry and "soup kambing" (mutton soup) his wife makes every year.

To help patients like him who wished to celebrate the festival, Yishun Community Hospital (YCH) prepared a special menu - a healthier version of the festive spread.

Yesterday, Mr Pandurangan, 45, had a main course of baked chicken tikka and carrot rice flavoured with herbs to resemble briyani.

There was also curried pumpkin soup without cream or coconut milk and a dessert of anjeer barfi with 75 per cent less sugar than the traditional recipe.

The main consideration, according to sous chef Francis Lim, was for the food to be low in fat, sugar and salt.

"This is in line with what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said during the National Day Rally to fight diabetes," said Mr Lim.

YCH's practice of serving up healthy meals for festivals is just a year old, but the hospital says it is popular with patients.

Mr Lim said only 40 sets were prepared and all were reserved by noon on Tuesday by patients of various races. The hospital intends toprepare more next year, he said.

The kitchen prepares meals for about 230 to 250 patients every day and offers about 10 main course options.

The hospital also prepares special healthy meals for other festive occasions such as Chinese New Year.

It started preparing for the Deepavali meal last month. The process saw a team at the hospital key potential recipes into a computer program that automatically calculated the nutritional make-up of each dish. The team then conducted taste testing.

Finally, cooking began at around 2pm yesterday and the meals were ready by dinner time at 5.30pm.

Mr Pandurangan, who is recovering from a stroke, said that although the food tasted different from what he is used to, he was happy he got a Deepavali meal.

Madam Rathna Abdullah, 58, who is recovering from a knee operation, also chose the meal.

She said she prefers Indian food outside the hospital because it has stronger flavours, but added that she liked the briyani that YCH served. "The taste is nice, with a lot of flavour... I want to eat it again."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2017, with the headline 'Hospital serves up special festive meal for patients'. Print Edition | Subscribe