From millet pizzas to ragi coco cold coffee, Coimbatore’s food entrepreneurs are offering a western twist to age-old millet recipe
Young food entrepreneurs are offering a newfangled spin on traditional cuisine using millets like varagu, thinai, kambu, ragi and solam to restore wellness through experimentation.
In recent years, with hyperlocal grains making their way to superfood lists, the gastronomic landscape has seen a revolution with the inclusion of millets into every day meals. Tapping into the ancient knowledge of our forefathers, young food entrepreneurs are offering a newfangled spin on traditional cuisine using millets like varagu, thinai, kambu, ragi and solam to restore wellness through experimentation.
Deal or Noodle?
Promising to serve their customers a wholesome meal, Buddies Cafe is bringing in a healthy twist by introducing millet noodles. With five outlets out of eight—including their flagship cafe at Peelamedu—serving multigrain, ragi and red rice noodles, Buddies is satiating people’s noodle cravings with loads of crunchy vegetables, mushrooms and chicken in the mix. “We sell around 20 to 25 plates of millet noodles per day and the grains are specially cultivated by our farmers from places like Sathyamangalam, Theni and Hosur,” says Nirmal Raj, owner. Rs 70 onwards.
For a brew-tiful day
An exclusive joint dedicated to healthy eating, Thinaiyamuthu Millet Restaurant serves a signature ragi coco cold coffee—a healthy cuppa infused with finger millet, milk, chocolate syrup and fresh coffee. The restaurant whips up a fine canvas of traditional millet-based south Indian cuisine for lunch and dinner that is cooked over firewood in mud utensils. Be it refreshing beverages or traditional dishes like ragi kali, millet puttu or kaaka muttai millet dosa stuffed with spicy country chicken and mutton chops, owners Murali C and Gayathri S offer a wide array of nutritious eats. Also, this organic eatery features another must-try, the sprouted wheatgrass juice. Rs 55 for the wheatgrass juice and Rs 160 for the ragi cold coffee.
Stirred and shaken
From Popcorn and Go Havana Fruit blends to Tiramisu Dessert or Nutty Professor Healthy Shake, Zucca offers a wide range of decadent beverages with the right proportion of millet add-ons. Being the only brand offering millet drinks in the city that is on par with other milk malts, Zucca blends traditional grains like kambu and ragi with scoops of ice cream and fresh milk. Talking to us about how their servings are made, Arun Kumar, who runs this pizzeria chain, says that they neither use artificial sweeteners nor ice cubes in their millet milkshake. Rs 120 onwards.
Need this dough
With a generous spread of handmade base sauce and gooey cheese topped with slices of fresh tomatoes and carrot scrapings, Dr Linn’s Kanya Organic is experimenting with a millet variant of the Italian flatbread. Baking this zero-maida pizza base using a multi-millet flour, this restaurant situated at Saravanampatti, includes a variety of pizzas—country chicken, mutton and prawn—and stuffed millet rolls among its list of dishes. “We started Kanya Organics eight years ago with a motive to serve healthy eats made from forgotten ancient millets and cereals,” says Sashi Rekha, co-founder. Apart from the restaurant’s menu, the store manufactures an array of 300 millet by-products like poha, noodles, vermicelli and ready-to-make pongal, puttu, porridge and energy drink mixes. Rs 150 onwards.
For every die-hard health conscious biryani lover in the city, Saravanan Varadharajan, the founder of Iyal Vanigam is offering a steaming millet vegetable biryani for lunch. The spicy meal is accompanied by vegetables along with raita. As an exclusive outlet for their farm produce, this store prepares every meal from the groceries and vegetables cultivated on their agricultural lands. “Besides these, packaged products like millet avil in kambu, ragi and sevappu kouni avil, millet ladoos and health mixes are also available,” says N Karthikeyan, a partner. Rs 50.
Stacked in your favour
This cafe and fusion cuisine eatery located at Saravanampatti serves Dorayaki, a Japanese pancake fashioned as burgers. Mugs and Brews packs this dish with freshly sliced vegetables stacked in-between the buns along with a crunchy vegetable or minced chicken or mutton patty. Made out of a mixture of millet flours like kambu, kuthiravali, varagu arisi and thinai these pancakes serve as a hearty alternative to regular burger buns. The cafe also promises health drinks like fruits and nuts smoothie and coconut chillers. Rs 149 onwards.
Making hot ragi rotis, Seeragam—The native store located at Peelamedu offers authentic evening snacks at the lowest possible price. This pancake-like light eat that is popular in the Kongu belt is a millet flour-based roti mixed with sautéed onions, green chillies and drumstick leaves and is the perfect accompaniment for your evening cuppa. Talking about their other goodies on offer, Gowri Masadhusudhanan, one of the partners of the store, tells us that the snack bar serves two kinds of chutneys along with a wide array of traditional short eats like varagu kuzhi paniyaram, kudiravali adai and millet flake cutlets. Rs 10 onwards.
Determined to come up with a healthy serving of namkeen for north Indian street food lovers in the city, Harsh Lalka, the founder of Bombayy Chaats is introducing three millet chaats—pav bhaji, bhel and tawa pulao made with a signature ‘secret’ millet flour. The chaat house will begin serving the delicacies by the end of the month. As a part of their market debut, 550 portions of the millet-based pav bhaji and tawa pulao were served for Christmas, we learn. Rs 100.
Millet mamma mia!
Located at R S Puram, Nal Unavu serves a wholesome millet meal. Catering fresh home-cooked meals made only with cold pressed groundnut oil, this traditional food joint serves koddo millet sambar rice, little millet rasam rice, barnyard millet rasam rice, finger millet kali that is served with a spinach or tamarind kozhambu, pearl millet curd rice, foxtail millet payasam along with variants of poriyal, roasted papad and buttermilk for lunch. Also don’t forget to take a sip of the special elaneer vettilai punch, a fusion of tender coconut water with betel leaves. “We offer preservative-free dishes and also make it a point to serve food on the banana leaves and water in copper tumblers,” says Bala Saraswathy V, founder. Rs 110
Offering a wide array of millet sweets and savouries, Noruks serves handmade eats like garlic kuthiravali murukku, karasev varagu chilli, samai ottu pakora and millet ladoos. Recommending their signature thinai murukku and spray-dried aloe vera palm sugar kambu and thinai ladoos, Vivin Solomon S, the founder tells us that they use only semi-polished millets from Theni for their products. Having established six branches across Coimbatore, Thanjavur and Hosur this city-based snack house is looking at cultivating healthy snacking habits across various markets. Rs 320 onwards per kg.