“I don’t want PRIMATE to be seen as a restaurant. It is a natural concept” says ELDHO PACHILAKKADAN, OWNER of the first raw foods eatery in Kerala. Walk into Primate and somehow, you feel at ease. The room is airy, bright and boasts of a certain natural setting that many restaurants lack nowadays.
Eldo is part of TNHS-The Travancore Natural History Society, an NGO that conducts bio diversity surveys; studying the food, habitat and life cycles of various species; the findings of which have coxed him to turn to a naturalist movement. An architect by profession, it took Eldho 5 years to shift to a way of life that looks to a harmonious co-existence with nature.
“Nature has a deep relation with food. Every animal has a duty. Take for example pollination. The way we live right now throws off the delicate balance of nature. Not many people understand the alarming facts. Animals generally are quite healthy upon inspection. This is because they derive their nourishment directly from nature. This is where we humans suffer a lapse. When we process the food nature provides us through cooking, we lose sight of our position in the cycle.” explains Eldho.
Several customers who visit Primate out of curiosity have become regulars; each with a different purpose. Be it weight loss, detox or a plain communion with nature, Primate holds the key and all of its customers have embraced the concept with absolute delight! “We live in a kill and survive environment; mostly because those are the skills that have been handed down to us. If only we tried to grasp our environmental role, we would be able to live harmoniously along with nature.”
According to Edho, food is a medium through which stories could be conveyed. It is a basic necessity without any secrets. Food, he says, should never hold any secrets. With this thought in mind, Primate hosts classes that help customers understand how to best prepare raw food without losing any vital nutrients. The Primate Kitchen uses only organically grown produce with nut milk substitutes for cow’s milk. What I found most interesting was the artistic creation of similar tastes. A lot of taste testing went into each of the offerings at Primate in order to make them resemble their counterparts made using milk, cheese, meat and cooked foods.
“A vegan is different from a naturalist” says Eldho “Naturalists understand what man is and his role in the environment and lives accordingly.” Cochin being Eldho’s hometown, seemed like the best place to start something as unique, what with the multitude of concept restaurants mushrooming everywhere. Apart from serving raw foods, Eldho dishes out a side of philosophy which many customers listen to in rapt attention.
“Three families have already shifted to the naturalist movements” says Eldho with a big smile “all our staff members are also naturalists. I was a non-vegetarian with an intense love for pork, but shifting to a naturalist way of life has been a calling. I cannot move from something I believe in. Keeping requirements of people in mind, we have also introduced biriyanis which are cauliflower based with dried onions, nuts, raisins, broccoli and carrots. We have patrons who swear by it!”
Food can be identified using just our senses. Our powers of sight, smell, touch and taste; that is the natural way of identifying edible foods. “One needs to change the environment through one’s diet. It is not just the food habits but the overall lifestyle and outlook as such that needs a change. We need to become more attuned to nature.” Says Eldho.
Eldho brings out an array of delights for me to review. I start with a delightful and tangy lime cooler replete with the luscious full bodied honey.
I can’t tell you how big a fan I am of their spring rolls! A yum medley of fruit and vegetables wrapped in crunchy lettuce leaves. Dip into their chunky and piquant house made tomato ketchup and get set for some firecrackers exploding in your mouth!
The taco salad was a thing of beauty! A delicious nut based sauce mixed into some chunks sweet papaya, pineapple and juicy vegetables topped with more of their house made tomato sauce. Scooped onto a leaf of purple lettuce, each bite was absolute delight!
The happy cow salad was a tame little prince when compared to the fiery queen I had before. A creamy mix of chopped up veges was filling and quite mellow on the tummy!
My utmost favorite I’d have to say, was the crudité with labneh! Labneh is traditionally made from Greek yoghurt; the Primate counterpart however is cashew based. It paired beautifully with the
succulent pieces of cucumber and peppers lifting the overall taste to a whole new amazing level!
We wrapped up the tasting with a trip of desserts: Cheesecake, choco-nut ball and cookie. I cannot believe how perfectly the tastes and textures of the desserts had been mimicked! The cheesecake was nut milk based, with a moist base of walnuts and raisins. I was floored by that choco-nut ball made with nuts, dates and cocoa, sprinkled with desiccated coconut. The cookie was moist and nutty drizzled with a rich dark chocolate sauce that could be lapped up on its own!
“I wouldn’t force anyone to change but I do pass on the message and hope logic strikes!” says Eldho in closing.