Puducherry’s well-known café, Bread & Chocolate is taking a leap of faith this new year. The café, popular for its breakfast and brunch options, has introduced its first dinner menu. Now, people will be able to enjoy breakfast bowls as well as pan-seared fish with salad in the evening at their location on Rue De La Marine.
Developed in collaboration with Mumbai-based chef Anandita Kamani, the menu is French-themed and will feature vegetarian, non-vegetarian and vegan options. “Dinner is new for us. Since our focus was until brunch, there weren’t many meal options for people after 5 pm which is something we hope to address with the dinner menu,” says Mansi Reddy, marketing director at Bread & Chocolate.
For Kamani, it's all about presenting hearty meals. As she grew up watching her grandmother and mother cook, it didn’t take long for her to fall in love with feeding people. “It’s a different kind of joy when you nourish someone,” says Kamani, the co-founder of Danda Food Project, which focuses on curated dining experiences in Mumbai and Goa. The core idea of the new menu is centred around making people experience different flavours through comforting meals.
An integral ingredient of the dinner menu is cacao butter; it’s the thread tying all the dishes. “The best part about cacao butter is that it smells like chocolate, but doesn’t taste like it. When the plate arrives, you get a whiff of the cacao which instantly opens up your nose and palate. It’s smooth, light and a delight in the mouth,” Kamani says.
One of Kamani’s and Reddy’s favourites from the menu, the abundance platter, celebrates this ingredient. Conceived about six years ago at Danda Food Project’s cacao dinner in Mumbai, the platter, which is made of roasted vegetables in cacao butter, promises to be a one-of-a-kind experience for people.
“Interestingly, Mansi and I had worked together on bringing the abundance platter to the table at the pop-up dinner years ago. Since the theme was farm-to-plate, we visited a cacao farm, tasted the fresh fruit, which was delicious, and experimented with ways to use it. For the new menu, we have taken this forward and created a sharing plate for two people featuring different vegetables, like beetroot, potatoes and radish,” Kamani explains. It is served with vegan dips such as the spicy coriander cashew cream.
The menu also shows different ways in which cacao can be used. For instance, Kamani has also used cacao juice to make the orange and fennel salad, one of the many vegan options on the menu. “The cacao juice is sweet; it almost tastes like a mangosteen. Since it has a fruity taste when you pair it with orange and fennel, you get a fresh flavour,” Kamani says.
So far, the most well-received dish on the new menu is a vegan dish, mushroom bourguignon served with a cauliflower mash.
Bourguignon is a French winter speciality that’s traditionally made with beef. Since it’s known to be a comforting dish, Kamani wanted to recreate it for vegetarians and vegans. For the menu, they used different kinds of meaty mushrooms cooked in red wine and mushroom stock. The accompanying cauliflower mash is enriched with cashew cream.
“During the food trials, it was interesting to hear people who don’t like mushrooms talk about loving this dish. Even people who are non-vegetarians liked it. It’s one of the dishes that I’m most excited about,” says Kamani.
Since Bread & Chocolate is cuisine-agnostic, the menu presents a variety of flavours without having to stick to a single theme. As Kamani has good experience in working with Asian flavours, Reddy says, they wanted the new menu to also showcase that. With that thought, they have added pan-seared fish with Burmese-influenced tomato salad. The vibrant salad is enhanced with a lot of fried garlic and shallots as well as fish sauce and jaggery.
“One of the main ideas was to make use of the local, seasonal produce in the menu. And to make it as inclusive as possible,” says Reddy. “From vegan and gluten-free options to hearty non-vegetarian meals, we made sure there is something for everyone.”
The new menu will be available from 19 January at Bread & Chocolate’s Puducherry location on Rue De La Marine.