Inspired by the growing appetite among Indian consumers for sustainable and naturally available alternatives to animal-based meat, Hilton India, in partnership with Wakao Foods, has put up a sustainable food showcase for guests. The exciting food festival – ‘The Wakao Fest’, aims at offering an unforgettable dining experience through an exquisite menu with jackfruit as the core ingredient. The innovative food menu will be available across dining outlets at Hilton properties in the country.
With the joint vision of placing jackfruit as a sustainably sourced plant-based meat substitute, the collaboration between Hilton and Wakao Foods aims at supporting local producers and products, as well as bringing plant-based alternatives prominently to the food and beverage scene in India. A sustainable crop, sourced locally, which does not need irrigation, pesticides/herbicides, Jackfruit can be intergrown with other crops to create a regenerative ecosystem.
Sairaj Dhond, Founder & CEO Wakao Foods said, “As the world looks at more plant-based alternatives, which are healthier and more sustainable options, there is a growing interest in meatless meals off late. The versatile and indigenously grown jackfruit is bursting onto the scene and finding itself being used more often. The pop-up therefore explores the versatility of the humble jackfruit, which is considered a superfood but needs to be more relevant across the cuisine culture of the country.”
Unkrate’s Suman Prasad had an opportunity to experience The Wakao Fest menu at Conrad Bengaluru, which has been curated by Chef Praveen Shetty and his team. The artisanal menu offers multiple cuisines and gourmet delights comprising a three-course meal, by leveraging the versatility and richly layered flavors and textures of the Jackfruit.
While Jackfruit is well-known in the Indian kitchens, used in both savory and sweet ways, this food pop-up stands out in so many ways – one it explores different cuisines to hero the jackfruit as a core ingredient, two it is deceiving to the eyes of the diners. Chef Praveen and his team have a done a tremendous job to score high on innovation and showcasing the diversity of jackfruit.
The first course is comprised of three dishes – Faux Pao, Jaca Loaded Potato, and Phanas Pepper Fry, whereas the second course comprises of four dishes – Wakao Krapow, Parmesan Polenta, The Wakao Burger, and Kathal Biryani. The final course comprised of two desserts – Jacky Edamame Crumble and Bar of Bliss.
While all the nine dishes on the menu were fantastic, there were five that simply bowled me over.
Faux Pao was the first dish that was served. The first bite was enough to make me understand what amazing things were about to come our way. The goodness of raw jackfruit in this dish is sandwiched between the deep-fried sesame-encrusted bread. This is meat for non-meat lovers in the true sense.
Phanas Pepper Fry, a Chettinad-style mini dosa was another belter of a dish by Chef Praveen and his team. Staying in Bengaluru, nati chicken curry or chicken sukha along with dosa has been a regular affair and this dish made me believe that it couldn’t have been anything else but chicken stuffed, only to be deceived. The crispy mini dosa was instead stuffed with jackfruit pepper fry, which made for an interesting and fresh combination for everyone’s taste buds.
The Wakao Burger will give any good mutton or chicken patty burger run for the money. The disguised harissa-spiced jackfruit patty is packed with some serious flavor punch, making this one of my favorites and a must-try for everyone else.
We have often heard people say that there is nothing called veg biryani, it’s rather pulao. However, this Kathal Biryani for me debunks this belief. The chunks of melting jackfruit, flavor of the rice combined with spices and caramelized onion served along with salan and raita – everything combined packed a wholesome punch that will leave you asking for kathal biryani instead of chicken or mutton next time when you are craving for a biryani.
Jacky Edamame Crumble was the perfect dessert, which was like a fitting finale to this finger-licking menu spread. I bet the first glimpse of this dessert will make you think like you have been served with an apple crumble but by now we knew that it is the disguised jackfruit as an apple. Served with a scoop of ice cream and chunks of jackfruit, this is certainly not to be missed.
As I scooped the last bit of crumble from my plate (was also tempted to lick the plate), it made me think how unique this pop-up is. The Wakao Fest, a collaboration between Hilton India and Wakao Foods that celebrates sustainable eating through the goodness of jackfruit is a masterstroke that needs to reach out to more diners. It is genius to be precise. As a person who loves non-vegetarian food, not once was I disappointed in being deceived by a jackfruit on the plate.
What: The Wakao Fest
Where: Across all Hilton Properies in India
When: Until 30-November-2021
Cost: 1800++ for two (at Conrad Bengaluru)