A UNIQUELY REFRESHING ORGANIC CAFÉ BY THE ANOKHI BRAND
◊ By Ritika Kapoor
Amidst the old world charm of ethnic Jaipur lies a European-style organic café called Anokhi. Owned by the Singh family (Faith and John Singh) behind the Anokhi chain of boutique stores and the Anokhi Museum of Handprinting (also in Jaipur), the family’s son, Pritam—who is also at the helm of the Anokhi brand since 1995)—founded the café as a departure from the plethora of Indian food offerings in the city. Melissa Millward, an expat from New Zealand, took over the operations in 2005, and is the creative force behind the mouth watering menu.
Besides enjoying the distinction of being one of the handful of non Indian food cafés in the Pink City, Anokhi’s laid back but comfortable décor, along with its fresh vegetarian and reasonably priced organic international fare sets it apart as one of the ‘Do not miss’ destinations for city dwellers and tourists alike. A majority of the café’s dishes are prepared using fresh organic ingredients from Anokhi’s own organic farm. Lettuce, spinach, carrot, tomato, broccoli, chillies, basil, and fennel are used the same day as they are picked to ensure fresh, nutrition-rich food for patrons.
Starting with the beverages, I would recommend the Lime Ginger Water (Rs 70). Although a little sweet for my taste, the tangy drink proved refreshing. With my thirst quenched, next I sampled the Iced Tea (Rs 100). Sweet and dark, and blended with lots of ice, the concoction was vastly superior to the usual, packaged, processed ice tea mixes that most restaurants tend to favour. The café also serves freshly squeezed juices (starting from Rs 180) made from seasonal fruits (pomegranate, pineapple, orange, etc), which are devoid of additives. The Organic French Press Coffee (Rs 90) from estates in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh is the perfect option for a mid-morning coffee run; or one can select from an array of teas (Rs 90) including chamomile, lemongrass, mint, Assam tea, Darjeeling tea and green tea. The pièce de résistance of the café is its assortment of generously portioned fresh salads (Rs 120 onwards), comprising Asian mixed greens, baby spinach, chard, lettuce, parsley, cucumber and mixed basil varieties. Anokhi breathes new life into run of the mill recipes with its farm fresh, crunchy veggies dressed in light, delectable salad dressings. My favourite was the salad with Feta Cheese, Onion and Kalamata Olive & Fig Tapenade on Crostini (Rs 250). The flamboyant flavours are distinct yet perfectly in harmony, creating a dish which is pleasing to the palate and refreshing.
Anokhi’s menu is noteworthy for its continental flavours. The Middle Eastern Platter (Rs 350) comprises four crisp fresh pitas, hummus, baba ghanoush and mint cream chutney, and is adequately accompanied by fresh salad. I quite enjoyed this dish; the crispy bread paired well with the smokiness of the baba ghanoush, the tangy mint chutney and the flavourful hummus, collectively form a culinary chorus that is in perfect synchrony. Akin to the salads, the portion size of the platter is also ample, and can be shared by two.
For dessert, I tried the Baked Mascarpone Cheesecake (Rs 180). Rich and creamy, the cheesecake was sublime, a stunning climax to my delightful meal. Indeed the café, with its organic, wholesome and unpretentious delicious food lives up to its name, which literally translates to ‘unique’. Certainly, for international tourists it is a delightful oasis within the tableau of traditional Indian food outlets dominating the city. But also it is a welcome change for citizens who yearn for varied flavours. Little wonder the tables are hardly ever vacant for more than a few minutes at Anokhi. A visit to Jaipur would be incomplete without a pit stop here.