Updated: Mar 10
Sustainability, Natural, Real-Food have become buzz words, but how many of these do really address the cause? Who am I to question, but these are things that are very close to my heart, philosophy and therefore this cause, mission, menu will always remain special.
Having done a few restaurant pop-ups, this is a great opportunity to do a private dining pop-up, at Ms. Amala's.
She is the founder of SaveAGram, a social enterprise that believes in fair trade and was formed to support the farmers who toil in remote Indian villages and produce food using indigenous, traditional farming methods followed by their ancestors.
Saveagram sources exceptional organic produce, from these small farmers and sells these products online in Singapore.
Her passion, drive to create an impact by helping you appreciate the upside of simple lives led in villages she set up SaveAGram, a pun intended on the "Gram" that means grain in English and (ग्राम meaning) village in Hindi.
First, she set up a homestay to provide a stable revenue stream to the villagers and a chance for people to stay, experience and eat sustainably produced food grains that the villagers grew around their houses.
From Garhwal, the foothills of the Himalayas to Wayanad, in the South of India, SaveAGram became this umbrella body saving one farmer at a time. These farmers grow food mostly for subsistence and store what they need for the whole year. They are conscious about not using any chemical pesticides and/or fertilizers in their farms and grow very unique strains of grains and spices, then sow the soil with the seeds harvested.
All SaveAGram produce collected for sale from these farmers is all organic and available in Singapore on their online marketplace.
Ms. Amala built a beautiful home in Singapore and opened it for people by way of dining. Living in one of the oldest condos of Singapore, that prides of spacious homes with a balcony and a backyard. Curated with artifacts from her home town, her home reflects her keen sense, taste for art and beauty. Therefore the dining venue, our table in Singapore is set at her home.
As show of support all things done old school and preserve skills with our hands, our poster and menu for the dining session is illustrated and painted by @illustr8_by_sujitha
The edible flowers and micro greens used across the 5 course are all grown in a Singapore farm, Pocket Greens by @engtingting who is an authority in the field!
The 5 course menu for the dining is inspired by the cuisines of Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh to represent the regions from where the farmers of SaveAGram produce.
Each course curated to help taste the quality of this amazing produce, the meal includes a non-alcoholic drink inspired by a street fruit food experience.
The Amuse Bouche is based on a street food favourite in India, the bhel. Bhel usually made of puri (puffed rice flakes) and therefore goes by the name Bhel Puri. It is essentially puffed rice mixed with chopped onions, tomatoes, coriander, some Coriander-Mint Chutney and Date-Tamarind Chutney served with some chick pea floss like crisps. This dish showcases the humble millet, usually used as a substitute for rice across India when the Rice was only affordable by the affluent. To give a texture contrast it is served with a helping of the puffed Amaranth, again from SaveAGram with the same signature flavours sauces and presented with some pea shoots.
The drink, Pink Guava Soda is India's favourite way to eat the fruit. Instead of eating it with a plum powder, it is eaten with chaat masala, red chilli powder.
Served with a Green chilli garnish to establish the chilli hit to the drink that is all sweet, spicy, fizzy with the potential to become a favourite drink.
The first course, Urad Dal Pakodi is made with off-white, unpolished urad dal that is best for all batter, ferments. A signature dish of the "Pahadi Cuisine" from Uttarakhand, it is very similar to the urad/ulatham parupu vadai, that in fact also has the signature hole in the middle of the vadai, but is different in flavours. The dish showcases Urad dal, Naurangi Dal, Clove and Dry Ginger. Deep-fried with sesame seeds that are the star highlight as it represents life, not black or white but in shades of wild organically grown produce that is not typecast. Served with a Blue Berry Chutney from the recipe book written by the founder of Sahaja Yoga (http://www.singaporemeditation.org) "Cooking with Love", a Pahadi Raita that is made with coconut yogurt, mustard and an Onion-Garlic-RedChilli Chutney. Garnished with colourful Pentas flowers.
The second course, is a celebration of Red Chilli, Cumin and Turmeric from SaveAGram. These spices along with the typical flavours of a thepla and kadhi showcases one of the milder sauces of India that is full of flavour, fragrance with a balanced touch of the chilli-heat. The sauce made with a coconut yogurt from @raglanfoodco is cooked delicately over heat until it emulsifies to a pasta sauce like consistency's in all its yellow turmeric glory. Inspired by the recipe to make perfect theplas I reached out to @janki.dholakia who learnt from her mom-in-law, the dish Thepla Ravioli and its is filling with Pea Paneer from @agrocorpinternational offer an experience of paneer with theplas. Adorning the dish are "Gutke" traditionally made with potatoes but here presented with Arabi or baby yams, that is roasted with whole spices. Garnished with Garlic Flowers and Star Fruit Flowers.
The third course, is again an inspiration from the "pahadi cusine" as it highlights the Himalayan Rajma. This Rajma, is so tender, fluffy, that it represents what any Rajma should aim to be! Cooks literally in a few whistles, this perfectly cooked rendition by Ms. Amala, is served on a bed of cooked Amaranth. Amaranth is an ingredient that costs an arm and leg in the market, but available at a fourth of the cost at the SaveAGram marketplace, this ancient, gluten-free grain is my favourite. It tastes much nicer than most ancient grains, starchy, small and still can fill you up. Served with some fritters, Pomelo and Pisyun Loon! Pisuyn Loon is a herb salt that is made with green shoots of garlic, also called green garlic, black salt, coriander, mint, ginger and green chilli.
The story goes that in the hilly regions of Uttarakhand, salt is a precious commodity as it comes from Tibet. It was much more expensive and therefore, in the "Pahadi Cusine" they make flavoured salts to increase the quantity of the salt, its flavour and thus conserved the salt. With fresh garlic in season, I managed to procure the Green Garlic and make this beautiful salt that was served on the Pomelo. Garnished with Torenia or Wish Bone flowers and Pea shoots.
The fourth course, inspired by the cusines of Tamil Nadu, Andhra and Karnataka, showcased a Finger Millet Tortilla, made with the most amazing Finger Millet flour there is in the market. This gluten free, low GI, high fibre flour is high in calcium and is eaten in several forms. The handmade tortilla was served with a Sweet Potato Masala, Spicy Sambar and Coconut chutney to showcase the Mustard Seeds, Fenugreek Seeds, Tamarind, Jaggery, Tur Dal and Cashew Nuts of SaveAGram. Some Peas to provide that freshness that completes the dish. Garnished with Begonia flowers.
The fifth course, is light on the palate, not too sweet, essentially cools you down after the spicy rendition of the sambar in the earlier course. The Amaranth-Cashew Muesli, off the SaveAGram Marketplace is made with puffed Amaranth seeds, Oats, Goji Berry, Almonds and Cashew.
A muesli begs for milk, so here with a Rose flavoured Oat Milk cooked with Palada (Tender Rice pieces) that is boiled to provide that jelly like textured bits and served with macerated Strawberries. Garnished with Rose petals.
A five course dining journey of the SaveAGram produce directly sourced form the farmers of India to a Chef's table in Singapore.
We would like to sincerely thank all the people who came to the sessions, for all their heartfelt comments, conversations and spending the evening with us.
The love and good vibes for such, always bring out the best in all of us.
For those who missed out, fret not, as we have been overwhelmed by your support and response for this experience and therefore, we will continue to repeat it in the months to come. So keep a close watch on my stories on @kechil.kitchen and @sowmiya.venkatesan.sg !
Here are some behind the scenes pictures taken by @muther_teracy. Enjoy!
Thank you, I hope to see you in one of the dining sessions!
#FarmertoTable #RealFood #Plantbased #Meatless #Fairtrade #Ispupportfarmers #indigenousfarming #natural #saveagram #comesaveagram #kechilkitchen #whatsdoneisplated #sowmiyavenkatesansg #cometastemystory #biodiversefood #sustainability #illustr8bysujitha #muther_teracy #singapore