FvF Cooks: The yogi punk bringing her own blend of community and non-conformity to Kreuzberg - Friends of Friends / Freunde von Freunden (FvF)

FvF Cooks: The yogi punk bringing her own blend of community and non-conformity to Kreuzberg


There was a decidedly virtuous feeling among the FvF team after a visit from New Deli Yoga’s Maria Koimtzoglou. Perhaps it was the pre-breakfast yoga session, or the delicious vegetarian feast modeled on the menu served at her cafe, but it’s safe to say she brought a little slice of her laid-back life philosophy with her to the FvF Apartment.

A self-styled ‘yogi punk’, Maria rejects the assumption that her interest in yoga and vegetarian cooking means she must be clean-living across the board. “Just because you practice yoga doesn’t necessarily mean you’re holy or healthy,” she says. “I still smoke, drink whisky and party!” Keen to share her love of yoga, two years ago she decided to teach classes for free at her Kreuzberg studio.

“I wanted to make yoga accessible for everyone. So, in our space, it’s free.”

Although diminutive in stature, Maria exudes strength both in her personality and physical prowess, which may have something to do with growing up as the only girl in a family of five children. Luckily, she takes it easy on us in our enjoyable 90 minute yoga session, blending Ashtanga flow with strength poses and breathing exercises: revitalizing and invigorating, it’s a perfect start to the week. She discovered a passion for yoga while traveling through India “I started in Delhi, then went up north and to the Ganges, to Rishikesh, where all the yogis go. I saw all of this, but I thought there must be something more, a different yogic path. So I left it all behind and went to Varanasi.”

It was in Varanasi, an ancient city widely known as the spiritual capital of India, that a chance meeting led Maria to find her mentor Pankaj Seth. Although from totally different walks of life, the two immediately shared a bond, “I was not following a school or anything, I just wanted to meet people and hang out and learn Hindi,” she explains. “His yogic style was something different, so open and fresh, he had no rules. He just makes it up and brings it to life, like all good things.” Maria stayed with her new mentor, meeting his family and forming a deep friendship, later returning to India to stay again, this time studying every day from dawn to dusk. “I was like Karate Kid!” she says, laughing. “Every morning it was, ‘Take your shoes off! Clean the room!’ “

“If I need to cook with sugar, I’ll cook with sugar. If I want a piece of cake, I’ll have a piece of cake. There’s not much I say no to.”

As well as inspiring her study of yoga and philosophy, Maria’s travels informed her style of cooking. Originally from Cologne and born to Greek parents, there was no shortage of culinary inspiration at home. “They cooked all the time, but mostly it was Greek dishes, meaty dishes. Later I became a vegetarian, so I developed my own way of cooking.” As we chat about cooking and the dishes on the menu today, it becomes clear that Maria’s culinary approach is typically easy-going. “If I need to cook with sugar, I’ll cook with sugar. If I want a piece of cake, I’ll have a piece of cake. There’s not much I say no to.” In a time when an all-or-nothing approach to healthy living seems to be the norm, it’s hugely refreshing to hear.

Warm Crispy Egg Salad

Serves 4

  • Tomato and Onion Chutney
    • 1 4kg tomatoes
    • 2 2 large white onions
    • 3 1tsp coriander seeds
    • 4 1tsp mustard seeds
    • 5 1tsp curry leaves
    • 6 1 fresh red chile
    • 7 60ml urid daal
  • Croutons
    • 1 Half a loaf of dry white bread
    • 2 Glug of olive oil
    • 3 Juice of a half lemon
    • 4 Bunch of parsley
  • Crisps
    • 1 1 sweet potato peeled into strips
  • To finish
    • 1 8 soft-boiled eggs and a handful of arugula to garnish


Tomato and Onion Chutney

  1. Dice tomatoes and onions and set aside
  2. Mix dry spices together together in a bowl and set aside
  3. Sweat onions in vegetable oil on a low heat
  4. Add dry spices and urid daal to the onions and mix together
  5. Fry until daal starts to brown, then add chile and tomatoes
  6. Let simmer for about 30 minutes, until it becomes a thick sauce


  1. Dice bread and toss in olive oil and finely chopped parsley
  2. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 150°c
  3. Allow to cool, then pour over the lemon juice mixture and bake a further five minutes

Sweet Potato Crisps

  1. Bake sweet potato strips for 20 minutes on parchment paper at 120°c
  2. Turn heat up high for a couple of minutes until crispy


  1. Cook eggs in boiling water for exactly 6 minutes

Heap a large spoonful of your tomato chutney into the bowl, followed by the soft-boiled eggs, and place the croutons on top. Garnish with arugula and sweet potato crisps.

Vegan Omelet with Red Cabbage Slaw and Roasted Broccoli

Serves 1

  • Omelette
    • 1 220g chickpea flour
    • 2 1tsp turmeric
    • 3 1tsp nigella seeds
    • 4 1tsp ground flaxseeds
    • 5 1tsp apple cider vinegar
    • 6 60ml soy milk
    • 7 250ml water
    • 8 1 zucchini
    • 9 1 fresh habanero chilli
    • 10 Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 11 ½ red onion sliced into fine strips
    • 12 Handful of salad leaves
  • Red Cabbage Slaw
    • 1 ½ red cabbage
    • 2 1tsp sesame seeds
    • 3 Glug of sesame oil
    • 4 1tsp coriander, finely chopped
    • 5 2 limes
  • Roasted Broccoli
    • 1 Glug of olive oil
    • 2 1tsp red crushed pepper
    • 3 1 head of broccoli


Red Cabbage Slaw

  1. Slice the red cabbage finely with a mandolin slicer
  2. Add the sesame oil, finely chopped coriander, and the juice and zest of your limes. Toss well and set aside

Roasted Broccoli

  1. Break apart your broccoli and season and toss with olive oil and crushed red chilli flakes

Vegan Omelet

  1. Mix the soy milk with the apple cider vinegar and set aside
  2. Mix the flour with the turmeric, nigella seeds and ground flaxseeds
  3. Use a spiralizer to prepare your zucchini into noodles
  4. Whisk together the dry ingredients with the now curdled milk and water
  5. Fry the zucchini noodles, tomatoes and onion in vegetable oil
  6. Pour the liquid mix on top, and cook on each side for 3-4 minutes
  7. Bake for another 3-4 minutes at 120°c
  8. Garnish with your red cabbage slaw, rocket and and roasted broccoli

On the menu today are two dishes informed by the food served at New Deli Yoga, Maria’s Kreuzberg yoga studio and cafe, where the staff pitch in to teach yoga, cook, and invent new recipes themselves. The Crispy Egg Salad is one of these experimental dishes: healthy, yet filling, it consists of soft boiled eggs with spicy mango chutney sitting on a bed of rocket and avocado, and is topped with sweet potato chips. The second dish is similarly inventive: a kind of frittata, dubbed a ‘Vegan Omelet’, it’s served with stir-fried zucchini and cherry tomatoes. A crunchy and acidic cabbage slaw cuts through the flavors, providing a perfect accompaniment.

Opened in 2011, New Deli Yoga is both cafe and yoga studio. Maria stays true to her yogic roots with a do-it-yourself approach. “We just fold up the tables and push them to the side” she says. “Just clean the room and then do yoga right there.” It’s a community feel, with word of mouth spreading popularity and ensuring people return bringing their friends with them. “It’s great because a diverse range of people come to the class and we chat afterwards, sometimes they stay for breakfast, and they all exchange abilities.”

“People often do a cleanse for like two weeks and then they are back getting wasted. What’s the point of trying to be good all the time?”

The increasing popularity of the cafe, which started out just selling juices, is definitely reflective of a growing preoccupation with healthy living in the German capital. “It’s coming over like a big wave. The coffee scene grew, and now this aspect of the holistic system is growing as well.” But Berlin hasn’t lost it’s edge just yet, according to Maria “People often do a cleanse for like two weeks and then they are back getting wasted. What’s the point of trying to be good all the time? Just live your life, be a good person, try and improve the lives of others too.” It was the laid-back approach that drew Maria to Berlin 16 years ago and keeps her here, for now. She jokes “Even our shops open at 10:00! In London it’s more like 6:30! Like, no thanks, we’re a lazy city. But that’s why everyone loves to come to Berlin, because we’re so chilled!” And if Maria’s attitude is anything to go by, we certainly can’t argue with that.

Thanks, Maria, for providing us with the wonderful brunch and yoga session! For more information,  visit New Deli Yoga. And check out more recipes and culinary adventures in the FvF Cooks series.

Interview: Maddy Tickner
Photography: Daniel Müller