Under my byline

Beauty bites

Posted in Diet, Foodie, Health, Profiles by Rrishi on 31 August 2008

Simal Soin, the expert behind A+ Medispa, makes us something good-looking

She’s been out all day at work, and has only just arrived at home, so she has to divide her attention between her two young sons and us — and the sons are winning.

It’s as if Karan and Arjun (no relation to the movie) are attached to bungee cords tied to their mother’s chair. Periodically admonished, they trot off obediently, only to come bounding back at the slightest hint of an excuse. In between bursts of practised explication directed at us, about her work at A+ Medispa, Simal Soin also has to kiss Arjun’s bruised finger back into health (“That won’t help,” he says gruffly), cuddle Karan, listen to their whispered confidences and mutual recriminations, and so forth.

Soin is medical director of the “medispa”, a novel business model that combines specialised medical services (mostly cosmetic) with a spa environment. The result: “Everything that makes you look and feel good,” Soin says. She is proudest of two cutting-edge treatments they offer, namely thermage, which is a non-surgical way to tighten skin on the face or elsewhere, and the Fraxel laser, which takes care of such horrors as acne scars, stretch marks and odd pigmentation. “This treats it where the actual pathology occurs, under the skin.”

This holistic focus is some distance from the conventional medical studies Soin undertook. She specialises in cosmetic dermatology, and did her postgraduate studies and research in England, before returning to practise at the Apollo Hospitals in Delhi (where she still consults).

“The English are very conservative as far as cosmetic dermatology goes,” she says. “I would do Botox and fillers over there — there was no Fraxel and thermages.” On the other hand, “We are more like America or South-east Asia,” which makes Indian customers more open-minded and curious about alternative skin treatments, especially if they involve elements of ayurveda, yoga, meditation and so on.

“Even the really expensive Estée Lauder, Clinique products don’t do that much,” she says. “I believe in supplementation from the inside.” Which is why she insists upon “coloured vegetables” on her dining table: “They’ve got higher antioxidant value.”

The salad and pasta she’s making for us in her little kitchen certainly meet this colour stipulation — with bright bell peppers, corn kernels, cherry tomatoes and fresh parsley, everything looks lively even as it’s being prepared. “There’s no value left in food that’s been overcooked,” Soin adds, so even on the table the food looks as crisp and toothsome as it tastes.


1 kg sole fillet, cut into medium-size pieces
Olive oil (liquid and spray)
Fresh lemon juice
Fresh, crushed garlic
A few sprigs of parsley
2-3 spring onions
4-5 asparagus stems
Salt, pepper

Rub fish pieces all over with a paste of olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Leave to marinate for 30-45 minutes. Separately make small amount of parsley paste by grinding together parsley with a little olive oil. Also make garlic butter by mixing together butter, garlic, a pinch of sugar and salt. Roll into butter paper and put in freezer for a little while.

Heat flat non-stick pan, spray lightly with olive oil. Cook fish pieces on it, each side for three or four minutes. When slightly brown, coat one side with garlic paste and other with parsley paste. Cook another three or four minutes on both sides. When done, add a little dollop of garlic butter on top of each piece. Serve with spring onions cut lengthwise, and steamed asparagus.

1/4 kg corn kernels
1/4 kg broccoli florets
1 large red pepper
1 large yellow pepper
Handful of cherry tomatoes
2 tsp vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
Crushed garlic
Salt, pepper

For dressing, mix vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and mustard together, and leave in fridge. For salad, steam all the vegetables together for about 10 minutes (don’t overcook, they should still be crunchy). When serving, add dressing and toss.


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