“The groundwork of all happiness is health.” It is a reassuring message to read at the entrance of a restaurant. In this case it also announces the food philosophy of the newly-opened Amulyam at Asilmetta. This is the latest destination of a complete millet-kitchen in the city.
Minimilism rules here right from the decor to the way food is served. The tables and chairs are spaced out and the lighting is comfortingly low.
As you wait for your meal to arrive there is enough to read on its walls about the benefits of cold pressed oils and advantages of cooking in a clay pot.
Amulyam is a pet project of K V Suresh Kumar and an example of sustainable practices in the food business. It was a leap of faith for Suresh to start a millet-meal restaurant in a sea of burger joints and fast food centres. Suresh, however, saw value in reviving India’s traditional way of eating. “Millets are making a comeback and many have realised their goodness, ” says Suresh. His passion for organic food and naturopathy led him to start his entrepreneurial venture called Swaraj Organics at Peda Waltair. Amulyam restaurant was an off-shoot of this venture. He cultivates organic fruits and vegetables on a leased land at Anandapuram in Visakhapatnam and also procures organic produce like millets, honey, pulses and spices from across the country.
Amulyam’s menu is simple and non-pretentious. They have four choices in the millet thali category – two vegetarian options and two non-vegetarian options. At the end of the menu card is a special message for the customers. It reads: “Most of the items are cooked in non-glazed clay pots. We use virgin oils like sesame, groundnut and cow ghee. Most of the vegetables are organically grown at our farm. We use no/very limited red chilli powder.”
Explaining this further, Suresh says: “To start a millet-based lifestyle, awareness is key. We make efforts to tell our customers how this restaurant is different from others.” They also have a technical collaboration with the Indian Institute of Millet Research. The restaurant’s chef Sheik Gayas and his team were trained by Hyderabad-based popular cook book author Rambabu, who is fondly known as ‘Millet Rambabu’ by virtue of the number of new recipes he created for the different varieties of millets.
The vegetarian thali includes a jowar and ragi roti, millet flavoured rice, millet curd rice, veg curry, green salad, papad and pickle. The special thali comes with millet soup, a starter and a sweet dish.
As I step into its cool interiors on a hot summer day, I am offered refreshing sugarcane juice, in a copper glass.
The main meal here is served on a banana leaf, spread over a steel plate. The millet and beetroot soup I start with is semi-thick consistency with a refreshing peppery flavour.
- Millets are whole grains, which are an excellent source of fibre.
- They are considered good for the heart and are high on antioxidants.
- Millets have a lower glycaemic index as compared to rice. As a result, the grains are digested and absorbed by the body slowly, lowering the blood glucose and insulin levels.
- They are gluten-free, which makes them suitable alternatives for wheat and expensive Western super foods, such as quinoa and oats.
- Millets are also good for a water-scarce country like India, as they require less water to grow than rice and wheat.
- The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics that works to promote millets and pulses in Africa and Asia reports that the highest folic acid among cereals is in bajra (46 mcg/100g) while ragi contains three times the calcium content of milk (340mg/100g).
Then arrive the piping hot ragi and jowar rotis served with potato brinjal curry and peanut chicken masala (which is a part of the non-vegetarian thali). The tastes are subtle and light . The dessert is payasam made from foxtail millet and jaggery, which rounds up the experience nicely. On Sundays, the restaurant serves millet special chicken biryani.
They also serve lemon pepper fish steamed in banana leaf on advance orders.
- Hits: Peanut chicken curry, millet curd rice and millet biryani
- Misses: Potato brinjal curry
- Price: ₹ 99 (veg thali) and ₹ 149 (non-veg thali)
Chef Gayas believes in a limited menu. “The idea is to perfect each dish and keep it healthy. When we cook in clay pots and with minimal oil, the preparation takes longer. We want to strictly follow the philosophy of ‘healthy’ food that Amulyam stands for,” he states.
The restaurant also has a small outlet that sells the farm produce of Swaraj Organics like mangoes and vegetables as well as some of its organic products like foxtail millet rava, little millet, palm date syrup, coconut bee pollen, millet cookies and mono-floral honey.