The farm-to-table concept has been all the rage in the country lately. OMO: Soul Food Community, which opened its doors for the NCR last year, is championing this concept in the most wholesome ways. With the café turning one last weekend, it was a fun fare with lots of soul food.
OMO: Soul Food Community
I entered a bustling crowd of food lovers rejoicing in the celebrations of the café completing its first year. A gelato station greeted me upon entering with eight types of flavours. I tried their Burnt Butter flavour, a delicious, creamy concoction with the perfect balance of summery sweetness. For their first-year celebrations, the cafe had an exciting spread of their organic vegetarian menu, all made with ingredients sourced from the Northeast. Some of the most stunning dishes were whipped up using a range of mushrooms, Naga chillies, black rice and purple snap peas for the guests to indulge in.
"I had to use two layers of protective gloves while fermenting the chillies, so they are very potent, and only a little bit goes a long way," said Chef Vanshika Bhatia, who heads the kitchen at OMO. Their name stands for the ideas of "Original ingredients sourced from the farms; Maternal nourishment in every morsel; Omniscience about the botanical world." And once you experience their menu, you would do nothing but agree with this.
Of Coffees and Ferments
A dedicated ferments station was where most people stopped by. Black rice, white sticky rice, banana, wild apple, and black grape were the day's flavours, with big glass jars filled to the brim with these colourful concoctions. The cheese and artisanal bread station, along with the coffee station, were the ones that I frequented the most. Their Ngarum coffee, made with handpicked, single-origin and organically grown beans from the hills of the Northeast, is bursting with earthy flavours. I tried their Kachai Lemon Americano, made using a dash of syrup from organic amber-hued Kachai lemons from Manipur.
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Raviolis and Rice
Next on my plate was the rasam ravioli which I paired with a side of soft Brie and charred baby corn. The rasam flavour went surprisingly well with the pasta in all its subtle tanginess that replaced a marinara. The sweet aftertaste of the sauce made it easier to start on my next plate of black sticky rice. The black rice, sourced from Nagaland, was the best thing on the menu and had me asking Chef Bhatia about the recipe.
"This is why I decided to place small recipe cards on every second counter with some of the recipes from today's menu," she said, talking about the stacks of recipe cards at different counters that guests could take home. Chef Ayush Sood along with Chef Bhatia, anchored the lip-smacking and innovative spread for the afternoon using all handpicked ingredients from the laps of the Northeast.
Make Your Own and Take Your Own
I was too full for dessert by the time they brought out the two-tiered fruit cake garnished with wheels of oranges and slices of other seasonal fruits. But my favourite part of this delicious afternoon was the make-your-own-goodie-bag activity, where all the guests could pick from a range of farm-fresh ingredients, including mushrooms, Naga chillies, black rice, red rice, purple Naga snap peas, ginger, and raw turmeric. I ended up filling half of my bag with these "Original ingredients sourced from the farms" while asking the chefs about their takes on the use of each ingredient. Carrying my big bag home, I promised myself to return to this land of good food and its even better feeders.