There is nothing more representative of a locale’s culture than what is put upon a plate. Local cuisines usually marry the local produce with traditional cooking methods and is often designed keeping in mind the weather of the city. While soups and dumplings reign supreme in the north east states of India to battle the cold weather, in the humid south of our nation, vegetables that possess cooling properties are often made in to curries and poriyals.
Thriving in its multi-cultural influences, Pondicherry is a veritable melting pot of unique culinary experiences. While French and Italian restaurants are common owing to the colonial influences, it is also home to several culinary initiatives that dare to go beyond the obvious. In this article, we look at different establishments in Pondicherry that are not set apart due to their cuisines, but also owing to their cooking or serving styles.
I. Maiyam Past Food
In Kuyilapalayam, near Auroville, Tamil Nadu stands a thatch roofed establishment with hand written board – Maiyam Past Food. That’s right, in the era of lighting fast food, this establishment is proudly flaunting the fact that their meals are anything but fast. This organic food joint offers Dravidian cuisine and follows a slow cooking style that involves charring, hand grinding and such. The 30-seater restaurant serves their meals in earthen crockery as is common with Ayurvedic cooking style. Featuring seasonal vegetables and heirloom grains, the menu is ever changing and the best way to enjoy all that they have to offer is to ask for the proprietor’s suggestions.
#HGLoves the Maiyam Plate that features different seasonal dishes that play to all the senses and is a sumptuous meal that is not just good for the body, but also for emotional well being.
II. The Solar Kitchen
The best way to truly experience is to partake in communal dining and The Solar Kitchen in Auroville is a great way to do this. Serving around 1000 meals to the inhabitants of Auroville as well as to nearby schools and institutions, this communal kitchen is an important part of life in Auroville. The vegetarian menu ranges from western staples like pasta, fresh salads and mashed potato as well as eastern favorites like Idli/Dosa, chutney, dal and such. Characterized by the big solar bowl on the roof of the building which provides part of the steam for cooking the meals, the kitchen is located on Crowd Road, Auroville. While they expect visitors to book in advance on a monthly or daily basis, one can also join the lunch queue around 1PM every day for unbooked diners.
III. Chez Pushpa
While continental menus reign supreme in the streets of Pondicherry, the traditional home meals in the coastal town are a delectable mixture of varying cultures. But it is hard for most tourists to eat like a local in the popular restaurants. However home cook Pushpa has made it her mission to serve up authentic Pondicherry cuisine that draw influence from French, Vietnamese, Cambodian, South Indian, Portuguese and Creole cuisines. The authentic meal is served at her home and can also be accompanied with a cooking lesson from the home chef.
You can stay tuned to the Chef’s different menus on her Instagram page.
IV. Naturellement Garden Cafe
A social enterprise that works out of Auroville to serve up organic and wholesome jars, preserves, nut butters, fruit syrups and such, Naturellement is one of the most popular brands that you can see across the stores in Pondicherry. The brand’s garden café nestled in an isolated garden in Auroville is a worthy experience. The quaint garden setting and the use of fresh organic produce in each dish makes for a very wholesome dining experience. From organic auroville bread slathered in your choice of jams, marmalade or cheese to rich spinach and ricotta ravioli, the menu is wide and appealing to everyone.
#HGLoves to order the hibiscus fruit syrup with soda that is a unique and refreshing drink that goes with almost every item on the menu.
You can know more about the café and stay tuned to their updates on their Instagram page.
V. Bread and Chocolate
Founded by the creators of one of the nation’s best artisanal chocolate brand Mason and Co. and Auroville’s Wild Yeast Bakery, Bread and Chocolate is an organic café whose menu ranges from healthy summer bowls and hearty sandwiches made on delectable sourdough bread to praline filled chocolate bon bons and vegan milkshakes. They also feature an assortment of chocolates and chocolate products straight from their factory for sale in the café.
#HGLoves the Quinoa Summer Bowl with poached egg, ricotta, oven roasted tomatoes, marinated onions and basil pesto that makes for a wholesome and healthy meal.
Whether you are someone who loves to vacation in the lap of luxury or seek out the everyday slices of life on foot while in a new city, Pondicherry has many more unique experiences that will appeal to you, provided you look for it.
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