If you like your food unsullied by chemicals, savour the fresh taste of farm produce at this organic restaurant

It's not often that you really want to know, or rather, get to know, where the food on your plate came from. More so, when you are at a restaurant. So it's really reassuring when you bite into silky soft paneer at Lumiere and are told it's made of organic milk. That the tasty potato, tomato, and greens you just ate was grown without chemical fertilizer.

Lumiere gives you restaurant food that really doesn't taste like it was made in a restaurant kitchen. Some of you may even be disappointed. Because our tastebuds have become numb to food not laced with chemicals, kept simple, and largely unprocessed. Because the gobi manchurian doesn't look the bright orange you're used to. The smudgy brown that it looked on my plate made me nervous. But when you eat it, you'll actually taste the tender cauliflower under the restrained brown soy sauce it's cooked in.

Lumiere, in Marathahalli, is trying to get people a taste of all things organic. They have an extensive a la carte menu that is sort of multicuisine (with a generous choice of seafood' there's also ragi mudde!). What one must appreciate is their attempt to promote the “seed to table” organic concept — a task that's quite tricky, considering organic products are not easily and steadily available.

The veggies, milk, poultry, rice, wheat, spices, pulses and even oil are sourced from certified organic farms all over the country, says Manjunath Pankkaparambil, software engineer turned restaurateur.

A shot of emerald-green chlorophyll-rich wheatgrass juice sets the pitch rolling.

We're told that you must be patient if you want to order from the menu, because they start preparation only after you order. Hungry that I am, I head for the buffet.

The tomato-basil soup makes for a gentle beginning to the meal, with the basil surfacing well above the taste of tomato; no overpowering food colours are another plus. The soft brown bread rolls baked in-house go well with the soup, and salads — nothing fancy, and with minimal dressing — are a dieter's delight.

The fruit chaat I dug into was unblemished by any other overpowering taste, other than…fruit!

There's also just fresh chopped tomato and cucumber for those who like to do the minimalist thing. It goes well with the ginger-mango chutney if you like licking some off your fingers, between the crunches.

The main course draws from various parts of the country so you have ennai kathrikka rubbing shoulders with paneer pasanda, tawa-grilled vegetables, and cheera tomato avial. And that's what I liked about Lumiere — they aren't cooking up any exotic-sounding dishes to take forward the organic tag. The usual suspects (including daal, curd rice and papads!) are very much there, along with homey regulars. Teamed with the thin and light tandoori rotis and parathas, you'll tend to have more than your usual share, simply because the food isn't heavy.

The only dish where oil was visible was the ennai kathrika but “what's the dish without oil?” as Manjunath pertinently asks!

From the menu I was recommended a stir fry of vegetables with house-made wheat noodles — with no ajinomoto and very little oil, the stringy soft noodles combined with crunchy fresh vegetables is great for those who can't stomach the gastronomic gaffe it's turned into these days.

This, and a dreamboat of tandoor-baked (yet not rubbery) hariyali paneer marinated in a hint of mint, was worth the wait.

And yes, one does not resist dessert, specially when there's comforting custard with fruit, corn halwa and rice kheer on offer.

That was my vegetarian point of view. But there's lots more Punjabi, Chettinad, Keralan and other foods on offer for the non-vegetarian, as my drooling colleague pointed out, just seeing the menu. (The chicken has been raised cage-free and without any hormone supplements, Manjunath adds.)

They also have a bakery and a store where you can pick up anything ranging from organic spices to organic dessert.

The buffet (vegetarian) comes at Rs. 250 and the non-veg (Rs. 375); the menu is changed every day. Lumiere is at 27/7, Sri Kote Ashirwad Towers, Outer Ring Road, Doddanekundi, Marathahalli. Call 25405059 / 60


Promoting vegetarianismFebruary 9, 2010