On a sunny autumn day, we went picnicking on the most beautiful patch of green with Bani Nanda, patissier extraordinaire at Miam Patisserie and Radhika Khandelwal, the masterchef at Fig&Maple and Ivy&Bean. While Bani whips up the most swoon-worthy French desserts, ones that would get Wes Anderson’s stamp of approval, Radhika creates exhaustive seasonal menus at two of our favourites restaurants that work on locally-sourced, farm-to-table concepts. They also happen to be BFFs who discuss food like its a religion, take the best selfies and blow steam with intermittent gossip sessions on their “secret chefs group” on Whatsapp. We chat with them about comfort food, travel and perfect picnic menus. (Scroll all the way down for their favourite picnic recipes!)
“Poi saag, red amaranth, and onion flowers are a great find at CR Park market if you go really early”
Bani: I wanted to popularise French Entremets and Macarons in Delhi and constantly work towards evolving the typical Indian palate. I love experimenting with flavour pairings and cake designs to develop a distinct style of presentation at Miam.
Radhika: Use local, seasonal & fresh!
Bani: I studied in Paris for a year and worked there for a bit after that. I feel like I imbibed the city completely. Also on a recent trip to Japan, I was really inspired by the pastry techniques there and the weird combinations that just seem to work well!
Radhika: Melbourne showed me how using local and seasonal ingredients can change everything. From chefs to local supermarkets, they try to spread awareness about how using fresh ingredients can help elevate the taste of a dish along with helping farmers and the economy in the long run.
Bani: At home I really love eating eggs and cheese toast. It's the most comforting thing!
Radhika: Egg salad sandwich.
Bani: I’d say Japan! Melon Pan, which is a sweet brioche of some sorts is my favourite street food in Tokyo. In Osaka I spent hours at the Dontonbori Food Market. I also ate what Sumos eat — Chanko Naabe at a restaurant in Ginza where we sat on the floor surrounding a large communal pot filled with tofu, pork, eggs and vegetables in an aromatic broth!
Radhika: San Francisco is my go to food holiday spot. Atelier Crenn is one restaurant which blew my mind.
Bani: I'm a crazy fruit smuggler. In Vietnam I found Hand of Buddha which is the most beautiful citrus fruit. I got back 6 of them and did a menu around it. From Japan I got back kilos of Yuzu! It's again a citrus fruit — almost like a huge lemon which is crossed with a mandarin.
Radhika: Dried and fresh produce! I got trumpet mushrooms and truffles back from Spain recently.
Bani: I feel like INA is a one stop shop and making just one trip there can help you tick off everything in your ingredient list.
Radhika: I like to buy fruit like mangosteen, fish & meats from INA market. Poi saag, red amaranth, and onion flowers are a great find at CR Park market if you go really early!
Bani: I love the carrot cake and also the Belgian Chocolate & salted caramel cake!
Radhika: At Ivy&Bean, my favourite dish is potato and cheese pancake with mushroom sauce and at Fig&Maple, my favourite dish is the classic Benny.
Bani: A very delicious lemonade ( most likely spiked ), good bread with charcuterie and cheese, a very fluffy lemon pound cake, a potato dish and chocolate.
Radhika: Cheese and crackers, finger sandwiches, a pasta salad, sour dough with balsamic and olive oil, and a bottle of wine.