Passionate growers make a deliciously persuasive case for using fresh, organic food as often as possible
Whether she is setting up the Dubai stock exchange or tweaking the menu at her farmhouse bistro, Earth Kitchen, Arati Venkat works with the same passion and purpose. Earth Kitchen, located on her six acre farm Grassroots, is fast becoming a popular hangout over the weekend, as a growing tribe of foodies are seeking organic menus synonymous with premium quality, conscientious farming and optimum health.
Farm to fork
“At Earth Kitchen, we welcome groups of visitors looking for a change of scene, a couple taking a quick break, or a family of four. We love it when they come here and discover how we grow our own food, maybe lend a hand with the cooking, get behind the barbecue or just chill out and relax,” she smiles. Venkat and her husband relocated to Bangalore from the Middle East over seven years ago, transforming the scrubland that she inherited from her parents into a delightful eco-friendly farm with over 1,200 trees, herb and vegetable patches, rows of wild rice and pulses, fruit trees, and bursts of colourful flowering plants centred around a charming home, built with red oxide flooring and mud blocks.
The menu is largely Mediterranean with a few West Asian specials “since we travelled and dined extensively in those regions” she explains. It includes a variety of lean meats, cheeses, fresh salads and dips (her tabbouleh made from freshly picked flat leaf parsley and hummus are hot favourites). And the liberal use of fresh herbs. Think fresh pastas stuffed with minced lamb or pumpkin puree, hearty Turkish meatball stews, flaky home-made tarts, and prawns tossed in garlic, chilli and drizzled with olive oil. Rounded off with slices of oven fresh cake, Middle Eastern sweets like umm ali and fresh seasonal fruit. Bottled sun-dried tomatoes and garlic-rosemary salt are also available.
Rs. 2,500++ for two adults, special rate for children. On Saturday and Sunday for lunch and dinner. Bookings close by Wednesday. Details: 9916668738
Over at First Agro, a full fledged organic farm in Talkaad near Mysore, run by former Canadian-based pilot Nameet Modekurti, a merry bunch of chefs from JW Marriott unpack their knives, ladles, meats and marinades and go wild among the carefully tended beds of heirloom tomatoes, Yutika baby carrots, cherry radish, wild arugula lettuce and premium European cucumbers. Modekurti, watching the whole exercise benevolently from the sidelines explains how eating conventionally grown food is sort of like “dating someone with a lot of baggage – there are serious health issues and it’s nearly impossible to get to the source of all the trouble”. The team at First Agro is also gearing up for overnight stays and proper cookouts that will encourage hands-on organic eating.
Patch of green
For those with a small patch of terrace or balcony space, growing vegetables, herbs or flowers is made easy with Anil Kapur’s regular workshops on square foot gardening – a scientific way of making use of limited space. Conducted both on his farm or in people’s homes, “even someone clueless about gardening will be able to produce an astonishing amount of vegetables in just two months from a very small area,” with Kapur’s expert guidance.
Rs. 1,000 per person. Details: anilkapur.org
— Jackie Pinto