Taste this fusion food menu by Latin American cafe and Koji ferment makers in Bandra

24 February,2023 10:41 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Phorum Pandya

A Latin American all-day cafe in Bandra is collaborating with trending koji ferment makers for a 10-day menu to offer a scrumptious umami hit

XOXO. Pics/Sameer Markande

Brown Koji Boy, India*s first Koji-based fermentary located in Goa that makes traditional and modern fermented miso paste, soy sauce, tamari, condiments and amazake, may be yet another lockdown baby but the germ of the idea began when founder Prachet Sancheti signed up for a fermentation course at University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo, Italy.

Although he had to pull out of the course when the pandemic hit, he came back charged to follow his pursuit back in Mumbai, clocked in a short stint at Slink & Bardot, and continued collaborative experiments with fermentation experts. Starting today, foodies can taste his products that have been incorporated into a menu by chef Urvika Kanoi at Cafe Duco in Bandra. With her affinity towards spice, it comes as no surprise when Kanoi reveals that she loved his condiments after tasting them at an event last year. "I didn*t have to overthink the dishes when we were working on this menu. Not all the dishes are strictly Latin American but the flavours and elements complement the cuisine," shares Kanoi.

Peaso pork taco

For the layman, a classical miso is a fermented paste made of rice koji, soy bean, barley koji and salt. Koji is a filamentous fungus used to make miso, soy sauce, sake and amazake (Japanese non-alcoholic drink from fermented rice). "You cannot make miso without koji, which produces enzymes to break down anything you add to it - protease that breaks protein into amino acid and is responsible for the salty umami flavour, and amylase that breaks starches into simple sugars, making them more digestible. Umami is not just a taste, but making your body digest food better and leaving you with a good meal feeling," Sancheti explains.

Before we taste a few dishes from the collaborative menu, Sancheti invites us to try his creations - a paste of aged miso, dehydrated miso powder that is spiked with curry leaf and fenugreek, an XO sauce made with shiitake mushrooms for earthiness, and a miso chili oil. "In the easiest explanation, miso is natural MSG. The aged peaso miso is made from chana dal, moong dal, charred jalapenos and salt, and aged for six to seven months. The hot sauce uses kefir [fermented milk] and chana dal koji blended with a cashew miso and oil from the XO sauce that gives a flavour kick," he elaborates.

Koji Mama

We first strike our fork into koji mama (Rs 450), a Jicama salad which has shankhalu from Bengal. The crispy, juicy slices are seasoned with tamari and miso chili, and are served with seasonal green chickpeas (hara chana), bean sprouts, and an intense tomato tamari. The XOXO (Rs 495) is a rice-based dish served in terracotta, and the mushroom is braised in a flavourful and gently fiery XO sauce, offering green amaranth and crispy fried garlic-forward notes.

Urvika Kanoi and Prachet Sancheti prepare their collaborative menu

The playfulness shows up in chips on crack (Rs 365) that includes Latin American annatto seed-dusted potato fries with a side of miso hot sauce and garlic cream. This is a homage to British chef Heston Blumenthal*s triple-cooked chips where he first simmers them, cools and drains them by freezing and then deep-fries them twice after cooling.

Our favourite is the juicy and meaty bite of peaso pork taco (Rs 425), which has pulled pork, pickled coriander, a gooseberry salsa and aged miso. "The beauty of koji-style fermentation is that you can control not only sourness but also the type of ferment as it is an enzymatic breakdown as opposed to people mostly associating fermentation with sourness due to additions like kimchi and sauerkraut," reveals Sancheti. And if you miss tasting this collaborative effort, Kanoi has plans to retain the miso chilli oil on the menu. "It*s not going anywhere," she quips.

Creamy shiitake miso pasta

>> 1 block soft tofu
>> 15 g BKB roasted shiitake miso
>> 15 ml soy sauce/ tamari
>> 1 tbsp sesame oil
>> 15 ml mushroom/ veg stock
>> Angel hair pasta

Blend all the ingredients to create a glossy tasty mousse-like sauce. You can season with black pepper and a bit more soy sauce or salt too. Boil the pasta and set aside after reserving some of the pasta water. In a pan, add olive oil, garlic and fresh red chilli. Let it soften and sizzle a bit. Drop in the cooked pasta. Add some black pepper and a bit of the reserved pasta water. Finish it off with a tsp of the roasted shiitake miso blended with compound butter. Top it up with some grilled mushrooms, parsley and a touch of black pepper.

From: Today, till March 4; 11.30 am to 11.30 pm
At: Cafe Duco, Kalpitam Chamber, 16th Road, Bandra West
Call: 9137076462

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