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The Bombay Canteen to create a video series on ‘unsexy’ vegetables


The Bombay Canteen teams up with OML to create a video series that lend an X-factor to ghas phus that rarely make it to restaurant menus

A couple of months ago when co-owner Sameer Seth and Thomas Zacharias, executive chef at The Bombay Canteen sat down with their team to draw up a list of “unsexy” vegetables, the results were surprisingly exhaustive. From parwal (pointed gourd/snake gourd), to tindli (ivy gourd) to turai (ridge gourd) and lauki (bottle gourd), they were spoilt for choice. “We ultimately zeroed in on the petha (ash gourd) and kamal kakdi (lotus stem) for the first season, because there were hardly any recipes available on them, on the Internet. It also helped that they were easily available in the local markets,” says the chef.

In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Bombay Canteen has collaborated with digital agency OML (Only Much Louder) to create a series of recipes that bring to life humble ingredients commonly found in Indian kitchens. Titled, The Unglamorous Series, the videos are a peek into the possibilities of working magic with these vegetables. The first episode that goes live today on the restaurant blog, canteennetwork.wordpress.com, is a tutorial on whipping up a bowl of petha pumpkin soup. With a groovy background score and no voice-overs, the videos are easy-to-follow and have given the vegetables a glamorous facelift. “We were inspired by what we eat at home. But, it was necessary to make the vegetables look appetising, and that’s where OML came in,” says Seth, adding that the first season will comprise four videos of 90-seconds each. All videos can be accessed on the social media pages of The Bombay Canteen.

Speaking further on the idea behind the series, Seth says, “We strongly felt that more than grabbing an opportunity to work with these ingredients, we also need to spread awareness in a manner that it appeals to today’s eaters. We wanted to create food content that is different from what’s available.”

The ingredients that go into the making of the soup
The ingredients that go into the making of the soup

While some recipes in the series are borrowed from the restaurant menu, some others are from general experience. “For instance, the petha and pumpkin soup is inspired by the Kerala Onam, but, it’s presented as a hearty, comforting soup with a blend of two different purees,” says Zacharias.

While the restaurant has worked with local produce since its inception, the effort to make less popular vegetables palatable has been challenging. “Our first menu change was in the summer of 2015, where we decided to add lauki. But, soon we realised that people didn’t want them at a restaurant. Over the years, we’ve learnt to play around to make these ingredients more fun and exciting,” says Seth. Zacharias points out that the way the videos have been shot lends the veggies an X-factor. “The dishes are not gimmicky. They are soulful and comforting, the kinds that will, hopefully, inspire people, including rookies, to try them.”

The vegetables were chosen on the basis of their availability. “Ideally, we would have loved to start with the jamun dish on the restaurant menu. But jamun is available only for a month, and if you don’t end up finding the ingredient after watching the video, it breaks the loop,” says Seth. Although Seth and Zacharias are playing it by ear in terms of generating content for the upcoming seasons, they also plan to launch a series on cocktails that can be prepared at home. “We consider the bar as an extension of our kitchen. So working with drinks using fresh ingredients will be a natural progression,” says Seth.

 Source:  Mid-day

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