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14.12.2017

Some weeks ago, Neha Sumitran – writer, aspiring farmer , and cook – and her husband Vahishta Mistry, a “startup guy,” packed up their lives and moved out of maddening Mumbai. Their goal: to head to farms across the country, lend a hand and learn about tilling their own piece of land in the future.

Their first stop is Kikui Farms, an hour’s drive away from Ooty, which overlooks the Avalanche Lake in the Nilgiris. Between rushing out of her cabin to pluck fresh thyme for her omelettes and digging out carrots for dinner, the duo have teamed up with Vishanth Kumar, the chef-turned-farmer and Kikui Farms’s founder, to host The Farm Table, a starlit barbecue dinner for which they invite you to drive in and make camp, to be bid goodbye the next morning with a big fry-up breakfast.

 All The Thyme In The World

In their first edition, held last weekend, Neha and team served up pit-cooked, flame-charred vegetables, chicken marinated in a soy and mustard sauce and grilled over an open-fire, lamb stew, babaganoush, smoked mackerel and more along with the bread, butter and cheese that has been made on the farm. “We wanted to showcase the herbs, veggies and dairy products – we’ve just begun experimenting with cheese,” Vishanth says. Kikui has hosted campers before, he tells us, but with Neha and Vahishta’s arrival, the food becomes part of the attraction.

Feelin’ Bleu 

For their second edition this weekend, however, they’ve stepped out of the bounds of Kikui’s 200-acre farmland, and are presently trawling the fish markets of Pondicherry. “We wanted to bring more seafood into the mix. So, we’ll be looking for mussels, tuna and crab,” says Neha.

As if that wasn’t enough good news, they’re already planning for their third weekend cookout. “We want to do something Christmassy, so there’s going to be lots of pork – maybe even some Coorg Pandi Curry,” she says. Snouts up!

Vishanth promises that The Farm Table will continue operations, even if Neha and Vahishta move on the next farm to get more hands-on experience after an unspecified number of weekends. “We want to continue to experiment and showcase the produce – as well as give city folks a place to relax and unwind, and get their hands dirty,” he adds.

We’re already packing up our woolies to drive to the hills for the good food, good cheer and if nothing else, “the insanely gorgeous views and the spectacular winter skies” as Neha promises. Chill scenes, y’all. 

Getting there: The Farm Table will be held between 4pm on Saturday December 16 until noon the following day at Kikui Farms near Ooty. Rs 3500 for an all-you-can-eat barbecue under the stars plus a fry-up breakfast on the following morning. The event is BYOB. Call Vishanth on 9442471754 or log on here to book a place. 

This story was contributed by Joshua Muyiwa, a Bangalore-based poet and writer.

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