Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014

Who says vegetarian food can’t be sumptuous?

Delhi too, like Mumbai, has seen an increase in the number of restaurants serving pure vegetarian food. Delhi too, like Mumbai, has seen an increase in the number of restaurants serving pure vegetarian food.
Written by Meenakshi Iyer , Shantanu David , Jagmeeta Thind Joy | Posted: May 19, 2014 12:15 am | Updated: May 19, 2014 4:02 pm

Earlier this year, there was a strong rumour that chef Joël Robuchon, who has been awarded with the highest number of Michelin stars —  28 to be precise —  is headed to Mumbai. With an unlikely location that he found in Mumbai’s Dadar, Robuchon is looking to set up his signature French fine dining restaurant L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at Kohinoor Square Tower. However, what surprised culinary experts was his confession: it was vegetarian cooking that got him interested in the city.

While waves of various kinds have been sweeping the nation’s consciousness to much uproar, India’s restaurants have another movement taking root in their kitchens and dining areas, one rather close to our new PM’s heart.

Though the country has always been a largely vegetarian nation, eating out options — especially for those who prefer their greens —  used to be fairly limited. However, restaurant owners are taking steps to mend this. For instance, Colaba’s latest entrant Burma Burma is a pure vegetarian restaurant that specialises in Burmese cuisine, which is inherently non-vegetarian. “We realised that there has always been a gap in the market that needed to be filled with imaginative and affordable vegetarian options,” says Ankit Gupta, the restaurant’s co-owner and a third-generation restaurateur.

Even a non-vegetarian may find delight in various vegetarian thoke (salads) made with interesting ingredients such as tea leaves, tofu, grapefruit and even a deep-fried samosa.

At Asian Street Kitchen — a pan-Asian restaurant in Mumbai’s Chowpatty —  dishes from Thailand, China and Japan have been reinterpreted to suit the vegetarian palate. For its Nasi Goreng —  an Indonesian delicacy — traditionally used prawn wafers were replaced with rice wafers while the scrambled eggs topping has given way to a tofu scramble. “Such innovations are sure to whet the appetite of even those who love their meat,” says Mitesh Rangras of Sid Hospitality that owns Japanese restaurant Aoi and pan-Asian restaurant Lemon Grass, both in Mumbai.

Rangras is also the brain behind Asian Street Kitchen’s experimental menu that features a veg version of the Vietnamese Pho that uses a concentrate made of shiitake mushrooms instead of beef stock. According to Rangras, innovation with fresh vegetarian produce is the future of modern cuisine.

Unthinkable a few years ago, but now Chandigarh —  where gourmands would have otherwise frowned upon the idea of vegetarian food —  is seeing a rise in all-vegetarian restaurants. In the heart of Sector 9 market, which houses a range of eateries offering meat specialties, is located Garlic and Greens, a newly opened all-vegetarian restaurant. Its menu includes everything from sandwiches, burgers, pastas, salads to a sizeable dessert line-up. The meats have been substituted with soya in some cases but the emphasis is on fresh vegetables and exotic flavours.

Unlike Garlic and Greens, the continued…

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New India, new ideas
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