Farmer's Brunch In Vizag Popularises Millet
Image Credit: Farmer's Brunch, Image Source: Aditya Muppidi

There has been a renewed interest in millets in the past few years. This healthy grain has been a part of Indian cuisine, and the country’s various regions consume it as a staple ingredient in their diet. However, Indians had lost their roots somewhere, relegating millets to an obscure corner. But the good news is that millets are rising again as a mainstay in our food habits. With India's incessant efforts, 2023 will be celebrated as International Millet Year. As a timely measure, Farmer's Brunch by Radisson Blu Resort Vizag served a decadent spread of millet-based culinary fare to popularise these healthy grains and revive their glory.  

Spanning over two Sundays, this brunch at this five-star property in Visakhapatnam attempted to showcase the hard work of the country's farmers and how millets can be included in our daily meals in various creative ways. Rakesh Sethi, Corporate Executive Chef of Raddison Group of Hotels, has initiated the campaign. "Millets are not only the oldest crops but will also be the future crops. It's time to connect with our motherland through these humble grains and their cultivators," said Sethi. 

Echoing the theme, 365, the eatery was given a rustic look. At the entry, a live counter served three variants of ragi dosa, upma, and idli. But the highlight was the live ‘Land of Maharashtra’ popup, which served hot bhakris with pithala, batatyachi sukhi bhaji, kombdi cha rassa and mirch cha thecha. Next to it, there was a push-cart stall preparing Bobbatlu and Poornam boorelu or Poornalu,  native desserts of Andhra Pradesh. 

Live counter of millet dishes, Image Source: Aditya Muppidi

As soon I entered the eatery, visuals of countryside charms emerged with the meticulous detailing in the decor. Black earthen pots replaced the regular serving dish on the buffet spread. The staff were dressed like farmers, and even the microgreens on every table reminded me of cultivation fields. The mind-boggling dessert spread had signature elements of farmland, titillating one's visual imagination.

"It was the second Sunday which proved the success of our attempt to create a taste for millets among the patrons. Many are elated to see how this crop can be prepared in delicious ways. It is the responsibility of five-star properties like us to do their bit in the revival of millets. In accordance with such thoughts, we had tied up with Manyam Grains, a social enterprise extending support, procuring, processing and marketing of naturally grown millets primarily from Tribal farmers," informed Alex Koshy, General Manager, Radisson Blu Vizag. 

Live counter of Bobbatlu and Poornam boorelu 

The millets used for this food fest were procured from this organisation. There was a dedicated counter by the same, displaying and educating guests about the varieties and health benefits of millets. 

Millet dosa and upma

I opted for dosa with kombdi cha rassa, and the blend of Andhra and Maharashtra flavours was unique. A glass of freshly churned sugarcane juice with a hint of lemon and ginger was a perfect start for my brunch. I was yet to catch up with the rest of the dishes, which left me confused about what to pick first. 

To my rescue arrived Sujit Chakraborty, Executive Chef, who had designed and planned the elaborate menu and informed me, "We are displaying an array of more than 100 dishes in our brunch today, including 14 dishes curated out of millets." So, I decided to stick mainly around the latter bit. 

Chef Sudhakar E, Sous Chef Western, who worked on curating the local millet-based handpicked dishes on the menu straight out of farm plated on the plate, had some cues. I helped myself with Herb Roasted Pumpkin and Millet soup and Brown top Millet chaat in parmesan baskets (from the salad section). For the main course, I picked Menthu Kura Pappu (fenugreek leaves lentil), Ragi Kodi pulao (Finger millet chicken pulao), Munnakaya Jeddipappu, and Chui Mui Kofta Curry (millet, bottle gourd and khoya kofta). The Ragi Kodi Pulao was a burst of flavours, and it proved how the finger millet can replace rice in a decadent rice dish such as biryani and pulao. What amazed me was the Green peas and Foxtail Rissotto with Feta Cheese. Had not the name been mentioned, no one would believe it was cooked with foxtail millet. 

Ragi kodi pulao, Foxtail Rissotto, Munnakaya Jeddipappu 

I skipped an array of other attractions, such as the staggering range of starters, salads, and entrees. Not to miss the two of the Chefs Interactive Counters, which included Aqua Farm (serving mackerel, Anchovy, pin pouch, river salmon, squids, pomfret, and prawns) and Farmers of Punjab (dishing out Makkai Ki roti, Sarson ka Saag, Baigan Bharta, Amritsari Chole and Tandoori bhutta). 

Millet cheesecake

It was time to satiate my sweet tooth, and I behaved like a child in a candy shop. Convincing myself not to land up in a sugar rush, I settled for Foxtail Dry Fruit Kesari, Ragi Payasam, Millet Poha Ladoo, Mix Berry and Foxtail Panacotta, Sticky date pudding, and Millet Baked Cheesecake. 

Ragi poha laddoos

I know it doesn't sound any bit sober, but that's the least I could do. What would one do when the dessert spread includes as many as 35 varieties? Those millet desserts were divine, and I got my inspiration for what to cook/look for the upcoming Diwali festive sweet spread. 

This Sunday Farmers Brunch at Radisson Blu Vizag was a testament that cooking is an art and even millet can be turned into such scrumptious delicacies. It's time we must include this crop in our diet and festive fares and relish the wholesome taste.