ITC Grand Chola Chennai's new Zesty Mornings menu serves black rice crepes and ragi cocoa granola
Twenty five chefs from ITC Hotels across India were engaged in a culinary think tank of sorts — before Zesty Mornings was rolled out recently. Think Eggs Benedict served on black rice crêpes and Buckwheat pancakes drizzled with jaggery syrup. As you can tell, ‘health’ is the buzzword here and what better time to — focus on wholesome eating than the first meal of the day, starting the first month of a new decade. We spot an eclectic selection of heritage grains (pearl millets and amaranth), sugar alternatives (jaggery), vegan milks (soy and almond), veggie juice blends (Green apple and kale) and a liberal selection of micro-greens (ranging from beetroot to sunflower).
But what really shines through for us is the thoughtful R&D and attention to detail — as we get a tour of the breakfast buffet at Cafe Mercara. For instance, how often does one get to bite into a croissant baked with ‘sprouted’ grain flour? In effect, this creates a vegetable not a starch, which is naturally easier to digest. The Pavilion Boulangerie shelves artisanal alternatives to wheat like rye, pumpkin seeds, oats and ragi.
Flour your information
• Mindful eating also means mindfully placed ingredients for easy navigation. Like yoghurt alongside healthy sprinkles ranging from nuts to seeds to fruit (breakfast bowl section) or the 18 odd nutrient-dense bakes (Pavilion boulangerie) including a must-try Baklava croissant prepared with a whole wheat and multigrain flour.
• Expect four aesthetically plated dish options like a creamy Goat Cheese Scramble with Rosemary Polenta Cakes, to ensure an element of luxury. These arrive at your table, but are inclusive of the buffet package.
• Look out for locally sourced artisanal cheeses like Tomme from Mumbai and Camembert fromTrichy to reduce the carbon footprint.
Sous chef Sujosh Kahali tells us that perfecting the formula for his yoghurt (for the breakfast bowl section) alone took a month to master. “I use the culture used for Greek yoghurt, Bulgaricus, and it takes me four hours to make it in a insulation box of exactly 45-degrees Celsius.” The temperature, he stresses, is all-important. “35-degrees Celsius for 24 hours works just as well, if you are okay with sour yoghurt,” he tells us, based on his hands-on experimentation.
We find heaven in a bowl as we dive into swirls of yoghurt, jaggery, toasted almonds and strawberries. Sweet, tart, crunchy and beautifully creamy — all in a single spoonful!
Chef Sujosh tells us that ever since he introduced homemade varieties of granola six months ago — the consumption of commercial sugar-heavy cereals has gone down by 30 per cent. “That’s our whole aim behind Zesty Mornings — to empower the customer with healthier choices which are easy to access,” he tells us, as we pop a crunchy bite of ragi-cocoa granola. Also expect combinations like jowar fig and dates, red rice and jaggery granola, and buckwheat almond granola.
Although, we must say that our highest praise is reserved for the unexpectedly spectacular Chakhao Poireiton rice khichdi with green gram. Served to us khao-suey style with an assortment of condiments like wedges or lime, browned onions and crushed peanuts for texture — a bowl of this is like a warm hug, with measurable health benefits!
Available daily. 7 am to 10.30 am. Price: INR 1,350 plus taxes.