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A menu mindful of the food’s carbon footprint
Amid the ongoing global movement calling for action against climate change, it is important to be conscious of the carbon footprint of our food choices as well.
While one may love the taste of well-marbled wagyu beef that is flown into our country by many restaurants all the way from Japan, the long process involved in landing the piece of meat onto one’s plate doesn’t make it very friendly for the planet. Making the best use of ingredients locally available within our country, the new menu at The Park’s 24-hour diner Six ‘O’ One is attempting to cut down the carbon footprint of food.
The hotel’s Executive Chef Ashutosh Nerlekar, who has worked in kitchens around the world, admits to wondering many years ago on how his food could be created with fewer carbon emissions. “During an air travel many years ago, I noticed a note from the airline that said travellers could contribute to cutting their carbon footprint.
I wondered how contributions could help cut emissions. But, after years of working in the industry, I realised how local ingredients could be eco-friendlier over the foreign ones. We in India get many high-quality ingredients. Through this new menu, we are trying to use local ingredients wherever we can, without compromising on the quality,” he tells us.
For instance, the new menu’s baked filo wrapped camembert honours the soft cheese from Auroville, making it a great substitute for the native variant that originates from France’s Normandy region. The cheese, stuffed with cranberries, is wrapped in a filo pastry (thin pastry dough) and then baked. Served with a fig jam, the dish is packed with crunch and gooey goodness of cheese, complemented with fruity and nutty flavours of cranberries and walnuts. The much-loved street snack aloo tikki has been elevated with a stuffing of burrata cheese (an ingredient typical of south Italy), sourced from a cheesemaker in Gurgaon. As one cuts through the potato patty, the oozy cheese gives it an extra buttery flavour.
Ashutosh also notes that one can find high-quality vegetables fit for fine-dining right from Red Hills region, good standard of fish from Chennai’s Kasimedu fishing harbour and sashimi-grade (of such high quality that it can be eaten raw) tuna fish from the port city of Kochi. The crisp Mediterranean-style pan-fried halibut fish on the menu, served with a creamy cauliflower puree, is sourced right from south Indian coasts. The farm-to-table movement that is growing popular around the world, also features in the new menu through the serving of Thooyamalli rice (indigenous variety of rice from Tamil Nadu) along with a roast hoisin chicken, that makes a comeback to the menu from an earlier version.
Ramen, which has been a crowd-favourite at the restaurant for long, is presented in a new avatar of Madrasi ‘meen’ ramen, paying tributes to our city. The ramen is turned into a bowl of comfort with masala prawn, home-style fried potatoes, and a runny soft boiled egg — all soaking in a rasam-like broth. There are several other notable ingredients that feature in the menu from around the country, including the deep-red Mathania chilli powder and kachri (Rajasthan’s native small pumpkin used as a meat tenderiser) in Rajasthani laal maas (mutton curry), gondhoraj lemons native to Kolkata used in a cheesecake and Uthukuli butter (from Tirupur district) for dosas.
When it comes to ingredients like the Belgian Callebaut dark chocolate, the chef is certain that there cannot be a compromise. The rich chocolate cremeux made of 70 per cent dark Callebaut, a hazelnut chocolate sponge, and some snicker crumble — eaten singly or together show that there can never be too much chocolate on the plate.