Downtown

Restaurant returns to the roots

Ancestral spread: At Prems Graama Bhojanam. Photo: R. Ravindran   | Photo Credit: R RAVINDRAN

Sugar, white rice and maida find no place in this nearly 75-day-old food joint — Prems Graama Bhojanam — started by N.S. Krishnamoorthi. Despite abstaining from ‘the three whites,’ Krishnamoorthi has managed to offer variety and taste to his customers. The unique selling point of the restaurant is: rural dishes prepared from millets. To name a few, samai kuzhipaniyaaram, varagu idli, thinai doasai, varagu dosai, kambu roti, samai roti, raagi roti, kavuni idiyappam, kavuni puttu, samai thayir sadham, thinai sambar saadham, kuthiravalli and thoothuvalai rasam saadham. Besides the menu card, a customer is given a booklet as well which explains the health benefits of the various millets. Krishnamoorthy has a passion for cooking and he sees it as an art form. He talks about references to millets in Tamil literature and mythologies.

“To be a good cook one needs patience. It took nearly four months for me to identify the correct proportion, time and temperature to prepare varagu idli,” he says.

Krishnamoorthy has 34 years of experience, which includes working with various multinational food companies. As part of his job, he has visited villages of different States. He has been to the villages in Tumkur and Hassam districts of Karnataka. He has also visited coastal villages in Andhara Pradesh and Kerala. “During most of these visits, I would have to eat at a customer’s house or small hotels run by families. That’s when I learnt about village food, its ingredients, the taste and the way it was cooked,” he says. “But sadly, today farmers grow more of foreign vegetables and use a lot of pesticides and fertilisers. Villagers are also getting into the habit of eating noodles and other fast foods,” he adds.

“Various market researches show customers look for taste, novelty and affordability. Ours is a concept restaurant. As a principle, we do not use ‘the three whites’ — sugar, maida and rice — in any of our dishes. We provide millets food — exclusively. This is the novelty that I am giving my customer at an affordable price. We ensure taste too,” says Krishnamoorthi.

“Millets are resistant to pests and don’t require pesticides. That prevents the soil from chemical pollution. They can survive even in arid lands with a bare minimum of water. That does away with irrigation. Another important feature is that millets give yields in short terms,” he explains. At present, the restaurant provides lunch and dinner. Soon, it will introducing breakfast, soups and salads.

“Our soups will be made from neem flowers, drumstick leaves and flowers and other green leaves. Similarly, our salads will be prepared from plantain stems and pumpkins. We are also working on delicacies native to villages in Punjab, West Bengal, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh,” he adds.

The restaurant is located at No: 19, Sardar Patel Road, Adyar. For details, call 98400 62772 / 98403 13050 / 80562 81599.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 4:51:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/restaurant-returns-to-the-roots/article6646336.ece

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