With the country’s first raw food restaurant opening here, along with an eatery that serves
roots and tubers, this city is becoming one to keep track of
Nude food revolution
As a lifelong consumer of cooked and processed food, dining at Primate turned into a near-religious experience for me. Sure I’ve consumed the occasional ‘seasonal’ fruit platter, But I never expected to taste food so appealing from within a restaurant with no kitchen! Here, the only ingredients are fruits, vegetables, roots, nuts, spices, honey, jaggery, sea salt, microgreens and sprouts (grown in-house). This eatery—which makes you think about what we would eat if fire was never invented—is the brainchild of naturalist Eldho Pachilakadan. A green architect-turned-farmer, his eco-friendly sensibilities (think furniture crafted with sustainable wood) reflect in the inviting décor of the 1,500 sq ft spot, located on the top floor of the brand new GudFud Tower, in Panampilly Nagar.
“I’m part of the Travancore Natural History Society. For the past four years, I’ve been living in forests within the Western Ghats, surveying flora and fauna along with 52 other society members. That’s how I learned about raw food and its various health benefits,” explains Pachilakadan, as I tuck into their taco salad—which is fresh corn kernels, pumpkin seeds, green gram sprouts and tomatoes tossed in a spicy avocado chutney and tangy tamarind dip, all wrapped in crispy romaine lettuce. Their thick three-layer pure juice (coconut milk-orange-kiwi with wild honey) also pairs delightfully with the high-fibre salad. Next, I try the aptly-titled pineapple boat—the carved out fruit is filled with the sweet pulp, soaked chia seeds, and topped with microgreens (spinach) and almond shavings.
The food at this 50-cover eatery is prepared (live) by executive chef Jinto V C—who has over 16 years of experience, having worked in Vinacciolo (Naples) and Carnival Cruiseline (USA)—on a large log table within the dining area, yet all the healthy and toothsome recipes are the naturalist’s own. “Since my entire family only eats raw food, I’ve had a lot of time to experiment with my contemporary recipes. Since we’re operating on a trial/daily-changing menu basis, we’ve only listed 17 of my 40 recipes for now. Though I own sustainable farms in Adimali and Munnar, we currently source ‘non-poisonous’ produce from Bengaluru, Delhi and even Vietnam,” claims Pachilakadan, as I hesitatingly dig into an exquisitely plated apple dish (apple rings stringed through a robusta garnished with crumbled medjool dates and crushed walnuts).
Though cold soups and raw banana bread are yet to make it to the menu, one dish I highly recommend is their near flawless mango pudding. While Pachilakadan talks about hosting acoustic music/standup comedy events at the eatery, I find myself drifting away as the cold almond milk and chia seed-infused mango dessert serenades my palate.
From 10 am to 11 pm. `600 for two. At Panampilly Nagar, Kochi
Details: 484 4025599
Discover your roots
When rice was scarce, we relied on cheaper staples like tapioca. But with more prosperous times, these roots and tubers have fallen out of favour. Kizhangans, a month-old eatery in Kochi—claiming to be the “world’s first roots and tubers restaurant”—is trying to rekindle nostalgia by serving these healthy dishes that are native to the land. “These foods have a strong cultural connect and bring back memories of times when we lived off the farm,” begins Ajay R, co-founder, and an assistant film director in the Malayalam film industry.
When I drop by the 26-cover eatery, I am greeted with a chilled pomelo juice, before I move on to the restaurant’s signatures. Ajay serves me steamed tapioca and taro—both of which come with eye-watering bird’s eye chilli chutney. For some extra flavour, there is tender black pepper-infused fried clams, too. Ajay explains that though their roots and tubers—sourced from Kattappana, Idukki—are not certified organic, they are produced sans any fertilisers.
Next comes the mixed roots—a combination of mashed elephant foot yam, taro and yam, prepared with coconut slivers and black chickpeas. The perfectly-spiced yam—though a tad too heavy—pairs well with blue fin tuna gravy and beef curry. There is also a sun-dried tapioca served with green chilli chutney—which is quite similar to the steamed variety, but a little tougher.
I end the meal with a regional treat, a sliced pomelo topped with sugar. The tart dessert is a welcome change from the cliched pastries and ice creams served everywhere. “We are just starting off, so there are still lots to offer when it comes roots and tubers. Diners can also expect palm sprouts and ambarella-based dishes soon,” Ajay concludes.
Rs 300 for two. At Panampilly Nagar, Kochi. Details: 8289914931.