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A blend of old and new

Karen Anand Photo: G. Ramakrishna   | Photo Credit: G_RAMAKRISHNA

Karen Anand is intrigued at the thought of sampling oil-free biryani. A day before her Farmers’ Market at Taj Krishna, she talks about how she and her team wanted the participating food stalls to dish out something healthy. Those who specialise in Mediterranean cuisine, she knew, would easily follow the brief.

Oil-free biryani

When she heard of oil-free biryani from Oryza, her curiosity was piqued. “I know how much oil goes into biryani. Hyderabad biryani consumes less oil. I’ve seen a Bohri cook at work; the oil that’s left over after frying onions is put back into the meat. Almost a litre of oil goes into a container that holds two to three kg meat,” she exclaims.

The celebrity chef started her first Farmers’ Market in Pune, her home town, egged on by her husband who knew her love for these markets in Europe. “Some of my favourite markets are those I saw in Venice. You could go buy anything local, not just fresh produce, meats and cheeses. There were stalls that sold swim wear in summer or winter clothes depending on the season, and even underwear!” she laughs.

Karen has tested nine cities with her Farmer Markets and Hyderabad is the newest addition. “We’ve stretched the idea of local to include stalls from all over India. In Hyderabad, 75 per cent of the stalls are from the city and 25 per cent from other cities. There are people who may not have sampled something unique from their own city and others may want to taste something different,” she reasons. Live music, great food, indigenous jams, sauces, honey and other products to take home are all what her markets are known for. She’s also testing her new range of preserves and sauces ahead of launching a new line of products commercially next year.

Her initiative in Hyderabad came 10 days after demonetisation, and she ensured most of the vendors had credit card machines. She cites the number of events that have been cancelled owing to cash crunch and says, “We may have a few logistical issues, but I believe we should support the move if things are going to get better in the long run.”

Karen Anand is aware of the many Sunday markets in Hyderabad that sell organic produce and products. For her markets, she says, she decided not to go fully organic. “Some players specialise in whole foods and do it the natural way, but don’t have organic certification. I felt it would be unfair to not include them. Our idea is to encourage more entrepreneurs,” she reasons.

In each city she travels to, she takes stock of changing culinary landscapes. She hasn’t frequented Hyderabad in recent years, but brightens up at the memories of the city 25 years ago, when she stayed here for a week to cover a film festival, as a young writer. “I stayed at a charming place called Rock Castle; is it still there?” she enquires. Karen talks fondly of her daily trips to Old City to dig into Nalli Nihari.

Today, though she delegates work to her team, she does the writing part. “I don’t have the energy I used to have 20 years ago. I have a team in place that helps me with my restaurant consultancy and the Farmers’ Markets. Initially, my husband and me did everything ourselves. Now my sons and my team do a great job. I am clear on vision and my role is more of an advisory. And I don’t delegate the writing. I enjoy that part,” she smiles.

Burrata cheese anyone?

Her travel to different cities to host Farmers’ Market has introduced her to new players. She learnt of a priest in Bangalore who was trained in a Benedictine monastery in Italy to make Burrata cheese. “I first tasted it at a restaurant and enquired where they got it from. I decided to have a Burrata station in the Hyderabad market along with truffle oil,” she says


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Printable version | Oct 14, 2021 4:38:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/A-blend-of-old-and-new/article16668282.ece

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