Chefs are not only adding organic foods on the menu but some of them are also starting their own organic food gardens.
Farm to table, spoon to skillet... these are a bunch of fancy buzzwords in the culinary food space right now. Although most restaurants try and market their menus and ingredients as ‘freshly sourced, sustainable and organic’, very few actually make it their ethos behind their menu.
At Kitchen Garden by Suzette, Mumbai’s popular Organic eatery, the emphasis is on ‘healing through health’. “We have tied up with a lovely organic farm located in the hills an hour or so from Pune, run by husband and wife Sanmitra and Amrita, two former IT engineers who have dedicated their life to organic farming. They grow the most amazing salads, herbs and veggies with an impressive passion and dedication in spite of all the difficulties that come with organic farming,” says Jeremie Sabbagh, head chef and partner, Kitchen Garden, and a former French lawyer turned restaurateur.
So committed was Sabbagh and his team to the organic drive that they started ordering more and more from the farm, and finally decided to increase their collaboration by developing a 8,000 square feet plot of land where they would grow sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beets, fresh herbs and all other delicious veggies on the menu.
“This is the beginning of a collaboration that will help us to experiment with new veggies and, more importantly, get a steady supply of high quality organic produce,” Sabbagh adds.
“The ever increasing demands of guests have forced chefs like me to come up with organic foods on the menu. Organic food, according to me as a chef, is food grown naturally without the use of food additives and artificial growth enhancers like pesticides and chemicals. Also, these foods have to be carefully cooked, ensuring the flavours of other ingredients used marry each other well and don’t turn out to be greasy, oily or unhealthy. Bearing all these factors in mind, I came up with my own organic food garden in the hotel backyard which caters to all my organic food needs.” says Chef Jerson Fernandes, Executive Chef, Jeon at Sea Princess Hotel, Mumbai
Chef Jerson grows aloe vera, which has been the differentiator amongst all in-house grown products. This potted plant, that is not just famous across the globe for its medicinal properties but also has been a go-to fix to soothe skin ailments, is now gaining popularity as a versatile ingredient.
“After experimenting a lot with it, I now have a couple of home-grown organic aloe vera delicacies on the menu. Surprisingly, these items are mostly sold out by the end of the day. Initially my guests were a bit skeptical about trying anything with aloe vera but what changed and worked in my favour was how versatile and refreshing this ingredient could be apart from the several medicinal properties it boasts of,” he adds.
WHAT IT ALL MEANS
Organic farming adopts practices that strive to use resources carefully, promote ecological balance, and promote biodiversity. Organic products usually are devoid of certain pesticides and fertilisers. Additionally, organic foods are also devoid of industrial solvents and any form of synthetic food additives.
Increasing number of restaurant goers are looking for food that tastes good but also nourishes and promotes good health. Going out doesn’t mean calorie-laden feasts of creamy pasta, oily parathas and the like..
And the organic trend continues not just in restaurants.
Personal Optimised Diet (POD) is a meal preparation service initiated by a group of four motivated young men, intent on creating a high-performance union between a healthy lifestyle in-sync with fantastic flavours to relish.
POD Supply turns cravings into healthy additions to your meal plan through a mad blend of science, exacting proportion and extreme creativity. The brand works closely with their in-house nutritionists, supplementing the diet chart of each client with their own research, innovation and expertise to customise each one’s very own unique monthly meal plan. The meal prep services people with very specific body/health/fitness goals to assure they look and perform a particular way. This makes POD Supply stand apart from other healthy or flavour food services.
Harsh Dixit, Head Chef and co-founder, POD Supply, relishes the challenge of deconstructing and reinventing ordinarily unhealthy or fat rich dishes and transforming them into healthier, fresher versions of themselves.
“We at a POD supply are in a constant struggle to make our meals from 100 per cent organic produce sourced locally. However, it’s quite a task to achieve it and we do our bit in whatever way we can. To give you an example, we source our avocado from an organic farm in Kodaikanal and we work closely with organisations who help us to connect with farmers producing organic ingredients,” says Harsh.
His co-founder is Chef Mohit Savargaonkar who had worked at organic fruits, salmon and mussel farms around New Zealand.
Obviously the trend for a ‘designer dabba’ has caught on as their client list reads like a veritable who’s who — Ranveer Singh, Akshay Kumar, Twinkle Khanna, Sonali Bendre and various industrialist families based in Mumbai.
Vegan Chia Seeds Pudding — Berry
Chia seeds 50 gm
Milk (depending on your taste: cow’s milk, coconut milk, almond milk…) 200 ml
Berry coulis (cook 100 gm berries in a pan for a few minutes, then blend)
In a bowl or mason jar, mix together chia seeds and milk, cover and put the mixture in the fridge to “set-up” for at least 5 hours. You can also prepare your pudding the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Pour the pudding in serving bowls and top it with berry coulis and toasted almonds.
Aloe vera cheesecake by chef Jerson Fernandes
For the cheesecake filling:
Philadelphia soft cream cheese 2 packets (8 oz each pkt)
Sugar ½ cup
Gelatin 1 tsp
For the base:
Cookie crumbs 6 oz
Honey 4 tbsp
Butter 150 gm
Salt ½ tsp
For aloe vera jelly:
Aloe vera gel 2 tbsp
Gelatin 1 tsp
Sugar 3 tbsp
Honey 1 tbsp
Salt ½ tsp
Mix gelatin in hot water and allow to bloom. Take a mixing bowl and mix all the filling ingredients using a spatula. Allow to chill.
Make cheese cake base by crushing cookies to form a crumb and later blending in honey, salt and chilled butter to form the cake base.
Pour cheese cake filling over cookie base placed into a ring mold and allow to set in a refrigerator.
For aloe vera jelly, mixed all ingredients together with the bloomed gelatin mix and allow to set in a refrigerator. Once set, cut into cubes and place besides or over the cheesecake.
Garnish using fresh fruits, mint or spun sugar garnishes.
Chef’s tip: To prevent alo vera gel from tasting bitter, cook it with some lemon juice and honey and then store in an air tight jar.
Energy bowl by Suzette
Organic bulgur (broken wheat) 120 gm
Raw organic baby spinach
Roasted organic beets 60 gm
Roasted organic sweet potatoes 70 gm
Organic apple, peeled and sliced 30 gm
Local artisan feta 30 gm
Spicy nuts and seeds 30 gm
Honey, Dijon mustard and balsamic dressing
Toss all ingredients together in a large salad bowl.
Put the bulgur, water and a pinch of salt in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes. When water is absorbed, remove from fire, stir and fluff with a fork to separate the grains.
Beets and sweet potatoes:
Roast for 35 to 40 minutes at 200 degrees.
150 gm nuts of your choice (cashew, almonds, macadamia…)
50 gm seeds of your choice (pumpkin, sunflower…)
Oil 1 tbsp
Honey 1 tbsp
Cayenne pepper 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Roast for 15-17 minutes at 170 degrees until the nuts turn dark brown.
Honey, Dijon mustard and balsamic dressing
Olive oil 125 ml
Honey 25 gm
Balsamic vinegar 2 tsp. Dijon mustard 1 tsp
Salt and pepper
Whisk together honey, vinegar, salt, mustard, and pepper until salt is dissolved. Add olive oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.