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August 5, 2021

A touch of Heart and Halo from Tusta Das

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Tusta Das from Heart and Halo with some of the delicious food he brings to the markets. Photo Allie Godfrey.

By Lisa Maych

Fair citizens of the Byron Shire… there is good news afoot. And it’s tasty!
The much-loved Heart and Halo – hearty, nutritious, made-with-love food – will now be at the Mullum Farmers Markets on a fortnightly basis, and what they’re serving up will warm you from your heart to your bones.
Owner Tusta Das, who ran Heart and Halo as a shop in Byron Bay for many years, now creates the delicious food from his home in Murwillumbah. He distributes these to local shops and health-food stalls as frozen meals, and will now be selling them at your local farmers market.
The meals are the perfect choice when you want something easy on a Friday, but aren’t willing  to compromise on nutrition or flavour for the sake of convenience. ‘To me they’re medicine,’ says Tusta. ‘And the farmers markets in our region are a way to live intentionally and connect with that nourishment in your life.
‘Food isn’t just food – it’s also our community. It’s not a commodity only. It’s energy and plants and caring for land and nourishing ourselves and therefore our relationships and communities.’
Heart and Halo have two lasagnes and four types of bean dishes on offer in their frozen meals: vegan gluten-free lasagne; Middle Eastern lentil and bean; Indian mixed lentil dahl; Thai coconut lentil; Indian chickpea chole; spinach ricotta lasagne.
All cooked in the ancient Aruvedic style, which embodies holistic whole-body healing of mind, spirit, and body, Tusta says his food nourishes all aspects of a person. ‘We use a lot of roots, seeds, bark, and leaves and whole spices rather than pastes or sauces – cinnamon bark, bay leaves, turmeric and ginger roots, star anise, cloves… these are the things that we use when we cook holistically,’ he says. ‘I have a garden here in Murwillumbah and am discovering more plants and flavours, and exploring some of the native Australian plants too.’
Be warned, however, as Tusta reports that addiction to his lasagne is likely.
It has big chunks of ricotta in a spinach, buttermilk sour-cream sauce with layers of cheddar cheese with a rich mustard-seed tomato sauce. It’s creamy and has cinnamon and nutmeg – it’s creamy and rich and pleasurable.
‘We all need a treat. To me health is not just about always being healthy. When you are too militant, you are uptight and end up getting sick. Food should be healthy but also have some treats and pleasure every now and then.
‘Lentils are not just about the flavour; they are about putting you back in your body. They are grounding; to me they are a medicine.’
You can purchase the high-protein frozen meals from Heart and Halo fortnightly at the Mullum Farmers Markets (held Fridays), from 9 July.

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