We sat down with the chef for a candid tete-a-tete, where he spoke to us about his new menu, breakfast staples, celebrities she would love to cook for and more.
Folks at Bengaluru rejoice! Araku café is introducing a whole new bunch of seasonal small plates as part of their new menu. The fun breakfast menu curated by chef Rahul Sharma takes a single-ingredient approach, and through it, extracts and celebrates the full potential of food. Brace yourself for some interesting, wholesome options like, Fried Chicken with Mango Kosho – where fried chicken is topped with a seasonal mango kosho and scallion emulsion. It is ARAKU’s take on the classic Japanese yuzu kosho, which is a condiment typically made with fermented chillies and yuzu citrus. If you happen to have a sweet tooth, you can try the Damask Rose Five Ways is a fine example of this; this oatmeal tart uses different stages of rose; fresh rose custard, pickled rose cream, fresh petals, come together for this delectably fresh and innovative delight by Chef Rahul. We sat down with the chef for a candid tete-a-tete, where he spoke to us about his new menu, breakfast staples, celebrities she would love to cook for and more.
Q. Do you remember the first time you prepared your first cup of coffee?
I remember being introduced to a great cup of coffee at the MAD Symposium, 2014 in Copenhagen. The coffee partner for the symposium was Tim Wendelboe, one of the largest coffee roasters and buyers in Scandinavia. They inspired me to see coffee in a completely different light. I discovered the importance of the third wave of coffee and how it has impacted coffee consumption in the world. I remember sampling coffees from different countries: Ethiopian, Kenyan, Latin American and brewing a cup of coffee in a Chemex for the very first time!
Q.Can you talk about the new menu at ARAKU?
At ARAKU Coffee, we source responsibly. At least 90% of our produce comes from within a 300km radius of the cafe. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, we source within three circles: first being our network of urban farms, which deliver the most frequently consumed perishables. Second, includes special seasonal vegetables, homegrown cheese and artisanal produce. The third, and furthermost circle, seafood and grains. This allows us to ensure excellent quality and traceability.
As part of our specials, we are also re-introducing our Monsoon Cassata, a play on the classic cassata ice cream, in seasonal ingredients such as cocoa juice and rosemary ice cream. For one of our vegan desserts, we are using almond skins, a by-product of our almond croissant, to create a fresh almond ice cream.
Q. Your favourite go-to breakfast:
Bangalore is a blessing for someone like me who loves a good breakfast! I am particularly fond of the South Indian Tiffin with dosas and idlis. I also enjoy a good fried egg with cereal.
Q. Are there any kinds of foods that pair best with coffee?
Much like wine, speciality coffee has many complex flavours based on where or when it's grown, how it's processed, how it's roasted, and even how it's brewed. Based on its flavour profile, it can be paired with fruits such as stone fruits and berries and with chocolate, nuts, brown butter and sweets. However, pairing it with savoury foods is trickier. We took this up as a challenge and created a Marmite-inspired condiment called Coffee-Mite, which we use generously to glaze our roast chicken making it super juice and crispy.
Q. Your comfort food:
Sticky rice with soy, raw egg yolk, spring onion and toasted sesame — easy to make, in less than ten minutes.
Q. If you had to prepare breakfast for your favourite celebrity, who would it be?
I would die a happy man if I could cook for Snoop Dogg or René Redzepi.
Q. Some breakfast favourites or staples you cannot do without:
Eggs, fresh bread and some house-made butter or ghee.
Q. Are there any foods that make you very nostalgic?
Of course! Food is often inspired by memories and nostalgia. The simplest curry or dal with rice can invoke memories from my childhood. Two that come to mind immediately are Doodhi Paneer, a unique dish my mother used to make in which she lets the milk reach to the point of curdling so that the whey adds an extra layer of flavor to the dish; and Shawarmas made by Levantine immigrants in Europe. Even today, I compare every Shawarma I eat to the ones I ate in Copenhagen as they were absolutely delicious!
Q. Your favourite item on the menu and why.
Our cherry tomato cake with tomato jam and mascarpone cream. I have always been fascinated by the flavour possibilities of tomatoes – often used as a vegetable, but very rarely as a fruit. It also packs a lot of umami. It began as a personal project, to understand the full potential of the fruit in the form of a dessert but when we received large quantities of beautiful red cherry tomatoes from the farm, we decided to add it to the menu.
Q. Hardest thing to prepare in your kitchen:
The ARAKU Viennoiseries are our biggest pride. Making them is always challenging as it requires a lot of technique and precision, in addition to some very special ingredients. We make them using our house-made butter made from fresh organic cream. The cream is fermented, made into butter and then used to bake the viennoiseries. They taste incredible, so obviously they’re worth the effort!