Suman Tarafdar

With nearly a dozen hotels, in addition to some food courts and standalone restaurants, Delhi’s Aerocity is fast becoming a food destination with a difference. And of some unique propositions. One of the more remarkable of which is the newly opened Soul Pantry at Andaz, Delhi, a hotel that stands out for its individuality – a testament to its brand.

Soul Pantry is located well away from Andaz’s acclaimed eatery Annamaya. Indeed, in the labyrinth that Andaz can sometimes seem to be, especially if you are traversing the lobby to residences distance, it is easier for visitors to enter Soul Pantry from the residence entrance.

Unlike Annamaya’s vast repertoire, the menu here is selective – nutritional flatbreads (yes, the thinner, and you might say, healthier cousin of the oh-so-popular pizza), healthy bowls, fruit and yoghurt-based beverages and an indigenous coffee programme. Yes, there’s tea too if you want – look for it in an innovatively designed menu.

Actually, before you tuck in, have a look at the wonderful interiors. Light, casual, playful, relaxed – any or all of them are apt descriptors. Not a large space by general eatery standards, its deli-like look is probably designed to attract the more casual diner who may not otherwise venture inside a luxury hotel for a bite. Also, like Annamaya, there are Andaz curios on sale here too – though sales hadn’t started when I went.

Soul Pantry’s uniqueness lies in its sustainable sourcing of native grains and seasonal local ingredients. For example, the flatbreads are available in three sizes, and guests can choose their dough from healthy grains from across the country – amaranth (Uttarakhand), finger millet or ragi (Tamil Nadu), buckwheat (Arunachal Pradesh), barley (Ladakh), and barley. These nutritional, and very delectable, flatbreads are then paired with locally sourced toppings with a wide range of options. Current toppings choices include fresh burrata and arugula oil topping, avocado humus with crispy chickpea and fresh mint & sumac, pork belly & barbecue sauce, susegado with chorizo and belkot cheese, Mangalore prawn & curry leaves. If you be of sweet tooth variety, there are sweet flatbreads too – topped with banana, chocolate, baked yogurt and sweet apple.

Then there are ‘nutrition’ bowls aka salad adjacent. You could choose from options such as the Italian bowl (tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, pesto, walnuts), Feta bowl (vegetable salad, feta cheese, herb vinaigrette) Green bowl (cucumber & fennel salad, spring onion, spicy French dressing) Nutrition bowl (sprouts chaat, onion, tomato, lime, fresh coriander) and Artisan rice bowl (puffed rice, jhal muri, peanuts, onion, tomatoes, lime). The last is in the bhelpuri / Kolkata jhalmuri category – very different from the rest of the bowls.

The beverage menu offers nourishing yoghurt-based drinks with the goodness of kale, flax seed, jaggery, fox millet, chia seeds, ginger, yellow lentil and more. The fruit-based beverages feature healthy seasonal fruits paired with energizing ingredients and seasonal herbs.

Unique Tea and Coffee programs have been created in collaboration with 3 Clive Road and Roasted Today Coffee respectively. Cold brews, signature blends and seasonal specials make up the menu.

A special feature is the packaging. For those wishing to order take away or indeed order from home (Soul Pantry delivers in the neighbourhood, yay), the packaging of each flatbread box carries stories of the space and comes with a seed tag that will help you grow your own kitchen garden. For planet friendly who plant the seeds, and sent a pic of the sprouted, there was chatter of discounts on showing the pic! Incentive indeed – along with the moderate prices.

 

The majordomo here is the affable Chef Kapil Chauhan, Sous Chef at Soul Pantry, part of the Andaz Delhi launch team. He describes the concept of Soul Pantry on sustainable lines – “we are taking seeds from the earth and seeing what we are giving back to the earth.” As for the menu options, he says there was a lot of demand for flatbreads and pizzas.

Chauhan is quick to point out that the flatbreads – yes, they are the star of the show – have no cheese or tomatoes and are much lighter than the usual pizzas generally encountered.

Of course, all ingredients are locally sourced. Chef says the reason for using just local grains (well local as in the subcontinent) carries forward Annamaya’s principles of locally sourced ingredients. Of course, none of the doughs are entirely made of say amaranth or barley. The menu mentions the percentages – 35 per cent for amaranth, 20 per cent for finger millet, 40 per cent for barley and so on. Only the buckwheat dough is 100 per cent. “We can’t make dough just with amaranth,” chef explains, saying “it contains a lot of starch. Finger millet is a very heavy and dry flour. The balance is whole wheat farina”.

When next in Aerocity, Soul Pantry could be your perfect choice for the perfectly balanced meal that fills you with nutritional goodness!

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