Baked and crisped to a heavenly golden hue,glistening with warm chocolate sauce and caramel,the oat granola bar on the table at Terttulia,Koregaon Park,looks tempting,Once thought of as breakfast for only the most fitness-conscious people,oats are getting a makeover in restaurants and bakeries in India,as they begin to experiment and innovate new ways to use the humble grain.
Even the oat muesli served at Terttulia is an eye-catcher,with the golden oats,the creamy white milk and the vibrant dashes of red and green from the sprinkling of kiwi,apples and pomegranates swirled in the bowl. Apart from the muesli and the granola bar,the restaurant also offers oats and raisins cookies. Elaborating the oat-infused offerings at the restaurant,manager Newton Paul,says,Our muesli is very popular and we try to give it that explosion of colour and taste by adding fruits and nuts to it. In both the granola bar and the cookies,we try to bring out the natural flavours and textures of oats,which combine well with raisins or chocolate.”
Yogi Tree in Koregaon Park,Pune,serves oatmeal porridge in different combinations with fruits,nuts,milk and honey. Restaurant manager Sunil Pardeshi says,”The oatmeal porridge is very popular amongst customers,who often spend hours at the restaurant with some coffee,a bowl of the porridge and a nice book.” This is not surprising,considering Yogi Tree serves healthy,vegetarian food to a very health-conscious clientele. However,it is evident that oats have now crossed over to mainstream dining with popular restaurants and bakeries using it in different ways.
Take Andheris Woodside-All Day Bar and Eatery,where the oat and banana milkshake is a breakfast favourite. The chef at Bandras Pali Village Cafe has put flour away,and mixes powdered oat in the batter for waffles.
No longer restricted to breakfast menus,oats are now being used by Indian chefs to innovate starters,desserts and main course fare. Post 91,in Pune,not only serves oatmeal for breakfast but also uses the humble grain while making different breads,starters and desserts. Executive Chef,Kiran Patil’s advocates coating fish or meat with oats,to give it that extra crunch and crispiness. “Oats are a healthy option for crumbing meat or fish and are full of fibre. Oats don’t absorb too much oil and adds a great flavour and texture to any meal!” says Patil. Similarly,Blue Frog,in Mumbai now offers an oat-crusted potato chop served with a minced lamb patty.
At the JW Marriotts Bombay Baking Company (BBC) where oat and berry muffins and granola bars are stacked with the regular blueberry and chocolate varieties. The oat cookies at BBC move faster than the regular chocolate chip variety. Even at breakfast time,the porridge,which few opted for in the past,is more popular now, says Chef Savio Fernandes,pastry chef at J W Marriott,Juhu.
Oat is crunchier than flour,so its great when you want to play with texture and diversify the menu, says Pooja Dhingra,founder and head chef of Le 15 Patisserie,Mumbai. She uses oatmeal in the crust of the ginger cheesecake and made-to-order oat and Nutella cookies. But people shouldnt take the cereals healthy reputation for granted,warns Dhingra. It helps kickstart metabolism but only if made with healthy ingredients, she says,adding,Any dessert with oat can still have the same amount of sugar,honey and oils,keeping the calorie level almost as high.