City restaurants grow their own herbs and veggies

Basil, mint, coriander and tomato are popular items grown

It’s said that most things taste better if you grow them yourself, and some city restaurants are doing just that. 

Restaurant owners and chefs are taking out their farmer’s hat and growing their own food. From herbs to vegetables, they are using whatever space they have to make the most of the farm-to-table concept. 

Bheema’s, Church Stree

It’s been about six years since the owners started their own terrace garden.

They have everything from coriander leaves, curry leaves, mint leaves, tomato, beans, okra to brinjal. They even have bananas, rose apples and coffee. 

Vijay Kumar, co-owner of the Andhra restaurant, says, “We just do this as a hobby but whatever we get out of it, we use it in the kitchen. Having said that, 60 per cent of our produce is from the local markets. There isn’t enough on the terrace garden to feed everyone.” 

The open-roof area has saplings of close to 150 plants which are pesticide-free. The staff bring plants from their hometowns after visits.

They have a full-time gardener, and use kitchen compost as manure.

Vinny’s, Banashankari

Owner Vinay Hiremath has invested in hydroponic systems to take care of his leafy vegetables. With about 200 pots, for the last couple of years, Vinay is the proud owner of fresh basil, celery and parsley, to name a few. 

“I think every restaurant in Bengaluru should have their own garden in some capacity. You just need to find some sunlight. It adds an oomph to your ambience too,” says Vinay. 

While it may look good and help one have fresh ingredients, it’s not always the best experience. He says, “You need to find the right seeds and the right quality. If you have a hydroponic system as I do, you have to make sure that there is no problem with the water flow because sometimes the pipe breaks.”

He hopes that one day he can add more plants to his collection and use fresh produce in his menu.

Maaia, Bellandur

Maaia follows a farm-to-fork concept. They use the restaurant’s open area to grow passion fruit, mint, coriander, basil, spinach, rosemary, lemon, cherry tomato and other seasonal vegetables. 

Shikha Santosh, co-owner, tells Metrolife that the vegetables and herbs they grow are enough for their day-to-day use. “Unless we have a bigger event, we don’t order from outside,” she adds. 

The restaurant changes its menu every three months or so. The produce that’s grown also changes accordingly. 

“It’s very easy to maintain your own garden and the city’s weather is usually always good. Our garden has been going strong for two years and we want to continue this,” says Shikha.

Their latest addition to the garden is mulberry and fig. 

Red Tomato, Jayanagar

The two-week-old restaurant has started on a good note. They made sure that they added a vertical garden so that they can have their own microgreen garden which they can use for cooking and to make drinks. 

Shivanth Nishkam, owner, says, “The last week has been challenging as the weather was cloudy. The germination process is slow. However, we are new to this and it’s been a learning experience.”

He says that it’s easier to grow microgreens as vegetables need more space.
“You usually use only a pinch of the greens in your dish. And when you know it’s from your own garden, you know the quality will be good,” he adds. 

The team makes sure that the soil stays moist and the plant receives enough sunlight. They hope to add more to the garden, “Perhaps have a hanging or green garden soon,” says Shivanth. 

Shangri-La Hotel

The hotel has a fresh herb garden with basil, mint and edamame beans. They also grow their own tomato, celery, lemongrass and radhuni. 

Gangadeep Singh Sawhney, executive chef, explains, “Depending on the cuisine, we use all the herbs and vegetables grown in our garden . The horticulture department of the hotel takes care of the plants and makes sure that they are fresh to use.” 

The hotel turns kitchen waste into compost. “We want to add lettuce and arugula leaves to the garden as they aren’t easily available all the time,” says chef Gangadeep. 

 

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