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When food critic Anton Ego takes his first bite of the ratatouille whipped up by the tiny protagonist of the Pixar movie, the beauty in its simplicity remind him of his childhood. Most of us would agree with his sentiments – this traditional French stew and its gentle, nourishing flavours are undeniably reminiscent of home.
A bunch of restaurants in the city have incorporated this wholesome mishmash of vegetables and herbs into popular dishes, making for interesting culinary fusions. The ratatouille bruschetta at the German Bakery outlets, for instance, has warm, crunchy sourdough toasts topped with that hearty mixture of finely chopped tomato, zucchini, aubergine, onion, peppers, garlic, and a light drizzle of olive oil. Quite the epitome of scrumptiousness, it makes for a filling entrée.
French bistro, Le Plaisir Patisserie & Bistro on Bhandarkar Road does a lovely take on the dish – here, roasted ratatouille comes capped with a layer of bubbling, melted cheddar and sits on a fluffy, buttery muffin. This savoury spin on the baked goodie is ‘très beau’ indeed – but it is only available for breakfast, so make sure you show up early in the morning. Prems in Koregaon Park, on the other hand, uses a blend of sautéed eggplant and zucchini tossed in a tangy tomato-pepper sauce as a filling for a crispy crêpe. Accompanied with a burnt tomato coulis that lends a smoky flavour to the preparation, the paper-thin, ratatouille-stuffed pancake is an entire meal unto itself.
Over at The Little Door in Kalyani Nagar, the ratatouille is stuffed into a rich cottage cheese steak doused in a velvety, whole grain mustard sauce. Since the French delicacy is packed with the goodness of fresh vegetables, the cottage cheese imparts a very welcome proteinaceous texture to the dish, and just in case you are a rice fiend beginning to miss your dose of carbs, there is a heap of paella on the side.
April Rain in Aundh whips up a lasagne ratatouille cheesy bake which is as sinful as it sounds – think layers of al dente pasta, creamy, golden-brown cheese and elements of ratatouille mingling together in one glorious bowlful. Yet another innovation is Independence Brewing Company’s gorgeously flaky in-house pie with a lip-smacking filling of peppery ratatouille and paneer. Or if you are looking for something simple to nibble on a book date, head to Just Baked, grab a cosy spot near the seating area above the bakery with a low roof and order their utterly luscious ratatouille roll.