GOD Café by Harrit Farms in Mumbai’s Dadar serves naturally grown, fresh vegetarian food made according to the principles of Ayurveda. Owner Sheetal Bhatt is on a mission to promote healthy eating and believes it could be the key to a more sustainable lifestyle.
In the heart of Dadar, one of Mumbai’s iconic midtown neighbourhoods, right off a busy intersection lies the neat little GOD Café by Harrit Farms. Sheetal Bhatt, the woman behind the café, is on a mission to introduce a whole new generation to the benefits of a clean and natural diet through Ayurvedic food made fresh.
Sheetal has been closely associated with Ayurveda all her life and it’s this experience and exposure that prompted her to start off her initiative with the cafe. “I’ve been associated with Ayurveda since I was a child. I’ve worked extensively with my father in the same field. Now, I have a couple of shops in the city, where we have doctors and patients coming in. Most folks have similar ailments: blood pressure, diabetes…
“When I speak to the doctors to try and understand this pattern, they tell me the same thing. It’s related to our lifestyles and the food we eat. So, food is what I focused on, and with this café, I want to let people know about the importance of eating fresh and healthy. It can have a huge impact on our lives.”
A resident of Dadar herself and armed with insight into the local communities eating habits, it seemed the perfect location for her to set up GOD café. What was particularly important for her was the team she was choosing. “I was asked by many about choosing highly trained chefs but that’s not how I wanted to do things. A professional chef would have their own ways of doing things as well. I needed a team that would follow my instructions to the T. I needed fresh young minds who would be eager to learn. So, I chose youngsters who had no background in the culinary world, who needed jobs. We trained them for two months, did plenty of trials and things have been running smoothly ever since, for over a year now. My kitchen is also open because I want people to see and understand what fresh, natural, Ayurvedic food is.”
The GOD in the name stands for ‘goodness of dairy’ and the dairy products which come from Sheetal’s own Harrit Farms are among the key ingredients on the menu at the café – from the yoghurt and milk to ghee and paneer.
“I source these ingredients from my own farm because there’s zero compromise on quality there. And it’s the same story with the other things I source. I deal with both small farmers as well as larger concerns. I have a detailed conversation with them regarding their growing methods. It’s very important to me that the food is grown completely naturally, without the use of any chemicals; those are essential principles of Ayurveda as well. Every thing that we serve in the café, down to the minutest details, I ensure there are no impurities. Even with the ketchup we use, it’s made from jaggery.”
Sheetal’s philosophy on natural products extends beyond the food and into GOD café’s day-to-day running as well. All the packaging material is biodegradable, with plastic completely banned. “We have to take these measures as responsible citizens. If we don’t do it, who will?”
One of her biggest goals with the café is to reach out to the youth, a newer generation with clean, natural, Ayurvedic food. In fact, all her son’s meals are from the café and his words of appreciation are a big boost for her and a definite sign that young folks would be quite welcoming of this kind of food.
With so much talk about the food, it was finally time for me to sample some of it. To start off, there was green moong dal dhokla. Not just shaped differently, but with quite a distinct texture too, it was possibly one of the better versions of dhokla I had tasted. And as yummy as it was, the fact that I knew it was all natural and healthy, made it completely guilt free.
As tempted as I was to continue stuffing my face with the dhokla, I had to move on to the main course – multigrain paratha with choley masala and veg Kohlapuri. The simpleness of the fare really stood out and there were none of the overwhelming flavours that you usually associate with Indian food made in restaurants. And although nothing was too spicy, I kept sipping on the delicious rose lassi which came in these cute, earthen glasses.
Dessert was walnut sheera which honestly, I wouldn’t have pegged for sheera if I hadn’t been told. I understood why Sheetal’s son, a teenager, had taken to the food so happily. It was also one of the few meals at a restaurant where I didn’t feel like I had overdone it and felt completely satiated, yet light.
It’s quite a small space, GOD café, and yet very well designed. From the dairy and Ayurveda motif on the walls to the well-spaced out tables, you can tell a lot of attention has been paid to the details, pretty much like everything else here.
The good news for those of you craving the natural and fresh, vegetarian Ayurvedic food of GOD Café is that Sheetal is already looking for other spaces in the city to set up more outlets. In the meantime, you can either make the trek to Dadar or order in at home.