We have had The Soul Company on our radar for quite some time, for their dedication to curating amazing, authentic experiences across India and for their finger on the pulse of everything that is cool, yummy and different both in Bangalore and in the rest of the country. When lockdown hit Bangalore, it became apparent that many experiential businesses will have to drastically adapt their business models and The Soul Company was no exception. What they did however has been exceptional. The Vine team had an opportunity to sample a few of the dishes from their new concept, Soul Food Menu, which brings together best chefs and restaurants for a once a week flavor extravaganza, in the comfort and safety of your home. But first, we spoke to Somanna Muthanna, the Founder of The Soul Company about the menus and what’s in store for The Soul Company.
Tell us a bit more about what The Soul Company does!
The Soul Company is a guided discovery platform for all things soulful. From creating intimate experiences with experts across Food, Art and Heritage to travel experiences across the country. For more please do check our website – www.thesoulcompany.in and our Instagram @soulcompanyindia.
Why did you decide to launch the Soul Food Menus?
The idea all started in the lead up to the Easter weekend where every year we would go to some great Easter meal to a friend’s place or restaurants doing special Easter menus. But without that this year, something felt empty, so we decided to get all the chefs we were working with on our experiences in the city and a couple of home chefs, and created our first menu around Easter. It was a roaring success, so we have kept it going and it has been a lot of fun creating themes, working with chefs on new concepts and delivering the menu to our lovely consumers in the city.
Who are some of the chefs you have collaborated on the Soul Food Menus so far?
Most of our menus have had Gautam Krishnankutty (Ex Thulp and Smoke Co), Bengaluru Oota Company, Navu Project, Loafer & Co, Caroselle Cheese, Tradition Kitchen, Lore and we have worked with Christine who was the ex pastry chef at Smoke Co, Lazio Caterers who made a legendary haleem for our Eid menu, The Restaurant Coorg and introducing hidden gems every week, including Apron Tales started by two girls and their love for cooking in our menu this week.
What’s next for The Soul Company in the post-COVID world?
There are many projects underworks. We have just launched Soul Sessions, which are 1-on-1 sessions with food writers, content creators, therapists, and more to enable our consumers to upskill or learn from the perspective of experts to add depth to the work they do. We are also launching Soul Getaways, which are 2-3 day weekend getaways from Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi where through a multi-layered experience and stay at a boutique hotel we ask consumers to revisit a city or region through our eyes. And finally, we are also creating an ‘At Home’ version of the Soul Food Menu, where we create a theme, menu and decor for a home dining experience or celebration in the city. For all of this reach out to us on [email protected].
And now, onto the food!
What was on the menu: A Pork Extravaganza of Pork Pulav, Pork Bafat with Sannas, Pork Chops, Rum Chocolate Bacon pie and Apple Cinnamon Bacon Pie
Who: Jana Henning
We had been invited to test some menu items of The Soul Company, which is an exciting concept staring weekly different menus from different chefs and kitchens. This week’s topic was pork extravaganza so we had been surly-looking toward some pork dishes and haven’t been disappointed. We started off with a hearty lunch presented by the chefs of the Bengaluru Oota Company that left us happy and satisfied. All of us know the standard pulav that comes as non-veg option normally paired with mutton or chicken. This pulav was a “grown up pulav” that stepped out of its comfort zone and came paired with pork. And it was absolutely amazing. The right dish for a rainy season. For our second main we had a hearty, flavor-packed Mangalorean pork bafat that came with the airiest and fluffy tasty sannas (little steamed rice cakes) we had since a long time. The highlight of the afternoon was the arrival of the pastries by Christine Barretto. The rum bacon chocolate pie came in strong with smoky bacon flavors. Surely nothing for the faint-hearted but definitely an interesting tasty treat combining smoky bacon with warm rum and chocolate aromas. The second pastry was an apple cinnamon bacon pie. Another opinion piece for a rainy afternoon adding the sweetness of apple with some hints of cinnamon.
Who: Aimie Dagger
Pork Pulav: This dish was packed full of flavor and very satisfying. I really enjoyed the chili relish that packed a punch. Nice to eat on a cold monsoon day. My only slight criticism is that I would have preferred less fat on the pork.
Pork Bafat: The light steamed rice cakes were so fluffy and completed the pork perfectly. I could really taste the cinnamon flavors and found this delicious.
Pork chops: This was my favorite dish of the day. The meat was so succulent and fell into my mouth. The sauce was divine, sweet apple balancing out the meat flavor. Two pieces of crackling that were perfect and not all soggy. The mash and veg were also really well cooked. Yummy.
Apple bacon pastry: So I can appreciate the skill that went into making this and the flavors were well balanced but for me, apple and bacon in a sweet pastry are just not right! I would not be going back in for seconds!
Bacon and chocolate pastry, ah another thumbs down for me, I found the chocolate flavor too overpowering and just did not enjoy this dish. Sorry.
Who: Tiggy Allen
What was on the menu: pork rillettes with bread, pork bafat with sanas, pork chips with mash, crackling and veggies, pork pulav, rum chocolate bacon pie, apple cinnamon bacon pie
The Pork Rillettes with Bread was rich and satisfying, especially for a bacon fat hoarder. As soon as I saw the frozen lard on the insides of the glass jar, I felt a tinge of guilt, and spades of gluttony!
The texture was gooey and delicious. Think of it as a spread, which it is, and it would also be great as a party food. I found it satisfying, but my partner who is Indian and used to more masala and spice, found it a bit bland.
Flavor-wise, I’d personally add a dash of salt at my plate, but that’s about it. The tangy sliced gherkins added an interesting dimension, and I made it a point to spoon a few into my mouth with every bite.
The bread was delightful. Not too chewy, and not too soft either.
The Pork Bafat with Sanaas: The Sanaas were as light as clouds. Non sticky. Easy to tear. Absorbent with gravy. The Bafat has a good balance of texture and weight, with a mild sweet-sourness to it. Delicious.
Pork Chop with mash, crackling and veggies: A treat to have this meal at home after 3 months of lockdown. Tasty sauce, even though I’d have preferred it slightly thicker. The meat was soft and well cooked. The veggies were great, and I wish I had more of it. Do note, that it had gone slightly soggy, perhaps because of the home delivery, but that can’t be helped. Perhaps re-sautee/grill the veggies at home once the delivery arrives. The pork crackling was a lovely touch – again, slightly soggy, but still salty and yummy.
Rum Chocolate Bacon Pie by Christine Barretto: Extremely rich, so glad I ate just a slice. It was delicious, but I could not eat more than that for the sake of my rapidly clogging heart.
The slightly bitter rum and the velvety chocolate with chunks of bacon were a match made in heaven!
Apple Cinnamon Bacon Pie by Christine Barretto: The pastry was flaky and crispy and tore apart with ease. The bacon, apple and cinnamon were woven together in ways that I never knew were possible. The chunks of bacon were considerable. Shocking even. At points, my tongue and mind couldn’t fathom whether this was breakfast or dinner. Again, this was extremely rich and heavy and I could not eat more than a small slice. Indulgence to share with family or friends, I would say!
Pork Pulao: The rice and meat was cooked perfectly, with a great balance to the spice. The meat was nice and chunky, not fatty, and it’s quantity allowed for a bit of meat per spoon of rice, which is the ideal biryani/pulao balance. It may be too spicy for the average expat palette, but works great for anyone used to Indian spice. The raita and chutney added new tangy and fresh dimensions to it – highly recommended.
Overall, for any fans of pork or bacon, any one of these meals or sweet treats would be a delight. Eating them all at the same time was perhaps a bit much, but when you do order a main course – do yourself a favour and order one of the tarts for dessert!