Restaurants are turning their backyards into kitchen gardens

More and more restaurants are turning their own backyards (and courtyards ) into kitchen gardens

Restaurants are turning their backyards into kitchen gardens

Chefs pluck lettuce leaves from the courtyard of a restaurant in New Delhi.

Bindu Gopal Rao

Hyperlocal cuisine is exactly what the name implies — extremely local cuisine. And it is local to the extent that the produce is cultivated or grown on the premises of the restaurant offering the cuisine.

Eating local and hyperlocal food is one way to get the healthiest of dishes while making a small contribution to the environment. “There are 22 varieties of greens, including kale and lettuce, that Pullman & Novotel, Delhi, grows in its in-house farm of 5,000 sq ft,” says chef Neeraj Tyagi, culinary director. The upscale property offers ‘Rooted in Nature’ buffets over lunch and dinner that focus on micro greens, sustainable farming and endless varieties of greens.

Andaz, Delhi, too sources organic vegetables, asparagus, lemony curried dressing and 780 edible flowers from Tijara Farm, its artisan partner. “The use of edible flowers in dishes sparks creativity, making a dish visually appealing to the eye. Some of our dishes, like the Nutrition Bomb, also involve the use of microgreens which are grown in-house under controlled conditions,” says executive chef Vikram Ganpule.

As ‘buy fresh, buy local’ becomes a global slogan, chefs are scurrying to be in the race. Chef and entrepreneur Tarun Sibal says, “The interest in sustainable development, where food is produced with an equal importance to responsibility towards the environment as well as economic growth and viability, has created a demand for locally sourced and hyperlocal food. Parmesan in India can’t be hyperlocal, but a soft burrata coming from the dairy farm next-door is hyperlocal. Though a lot of things can be hyperlocal, it is primarily kitchen gardens, backyards, window sills, rooftop and terrace gardens that are now used for growing herbs and plants which do not need too much space or maintenance. In Goa we use lot of avocado, passion fruit and papaya in our dishes as they are grown there. In Delhi/NCR, we use lot of black carrot, saag and bathua in winters.”

The onus lies with the chefs and how much and how quickly they can innovate. Rachel Goenka, founder of The Chocolate Spoon Company, says chefs have a better understanding of where their produce is coming from can translate this message through their food to customers as well. “Hydroponic farming has also made it easier for restaurants to grow their own produce. There is also the social responsibility of supporting local farmers and organic farming.”

The rationale behind the concept of hyperlocal food is freshness and high nutrient value. Hyperlocal food eliminates the process of artificial storage of food as the gap from farm to plate gets minimised. Chef Abhijeet Khot, sous chef at The Den, Bengaluru, says, “Hyperlocal ingredients are grown depending on the climatic condition of the place and space available. They need lots of care and attention too.” However, it also means tweaking the menu as per the seasonal produce. And a green plate is worth the trouble.


Nutrition bomb salad

Ingredients

  • For salad
  • Cucumber (diced) 40gm
  • Cherry tomato (halves) 40gm
  • Basil 10gm
  • Mint 10gm
  • Focaccia croutons 20gm
  • Microgreens 160gm
  • Flax seeds 5gm
  • Lime dressing 20ml
  • For dressing
  • Lime 400 mls
  • Oil 1.2 lits
  • Salt 10 gms
  • Black pepper 20 gms
  • Focaccia bread croutons 30 gms

Method:

  • For dressing: Whisk all dressing ingredients together in a bowl.
  • For focaccia crouton: Cut the focaccia bread into cubes and dry them in oven at 140 degrees till golden brown.
  • For salad: Toss all the ingredients together with lime dressing, salt and pepper. Add focaccia croutons to the salad. Sprinkle flax seeds as garnish.

Courtesy: Andaz, Delhi

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