Chefs in Bengaluru are offering some unique fusion fare at their restaurants
From introducing more vegetarian items to fusing north and south Indian cuisines and adding local ingredients to French desserts, chefs are giving their menus a makeover
It’s safe to say that the the palates of Bengaluraens have changed over the pandemic. From being conscious about the ingredients to sampling fusion fares, the combination of one’s comfort food and health factor have clearly taken over. And chefs too are re-inventing some of the popular regional dishes with the dishes they already served at the restaurant.
Chef Naren Thimmaiah, executive chef of Vivanta Bengaluru Residency Road, explains that they always add a few new dishes now and then to the menu at Karavalli. “As much as it’s not true, people assume that Mangalurean cuisine is all about seafood. However, since the pandemic hit, we’ve seen an increase in demand for vegetarian dishes. We’ve been working on adapting some of those vegetarian dishes onto our menu while still keeping the focus on Mangalurean cuisine,” he says.
Patrode (steamed, savoury cakes made using rice and colocasia leaves) and pundi (rice dumplings) are hot favourites these days, says Thimmaiah. “The concept of starters doesn’t really exist in south Indian cuisine but we’ve adapted some of the dishes we otherwise have as main courses to create starters,” he adds.
Taking fusion to another level is chef Suresh Pillai of Chef Pillai restaurant, now open in Whitefield. Apart from his signature dish Fish Nirvana, which is still a favourite among customers, the menu includes north Indian dishes in Kerala flavours. He explains, “Pani puri is a favourite but it’s not a Kerala dish. So we’ve innovated the pani puri concept to have mango pickle instead of the potato and use sambaram (Kerala-style buttermilk) as the liquid.
And for those who like street food, they can enjoy a sweet, tangy version of it with our banana fritter chaat.” Combining the two cuisines has given more reason for people to enjoy Kerala dishes. “Our Inji Puli Chicken Wings is a humble take on the popular barbeque chicken that everyone loves. So, you get the whole experience of the juicy, crispy chicken but with the spicy, tanginess of the inji puli which substitutes the barbeque flavour,” he explains.
The demand for bread over sweet dishes has also gone up, according to chef Avin Thalaiath of Lavonne India. “In fact, bakery items have seen a huge demand from last year. Sourdough is one of the items people have been obsessing over, especially because it’s healthy and made in the most natural way possible,” he says. Along with the baked goodies, like Pillai mentions, local flavours seem to be in demand in these offerings too.
“Our Kerala Onion, Ham and Cheddar Croissant, along with Tomato and Feta Cheese Danish are hot sellers. People enjoy the Kerala-flavoured onion croissant as we give it a homely touch. The tomato we use for the Danish is locally grown in Bengaluru too. The idea is to also focus more on artisanal food and encourage sustainability,” says Thalaiath.