Ghee Field Trip at Chef Niven Patel's "Rancho Patel"
Beyond the sparkle of the blue waters of Biscayne Bay and just an hours drive south is farmland where many organic farms reside including Chef Niven Patel’s farm in Homestead.
Chef Patel was inspired to be serious about having his own farm three years ago after one of the cooks in his kitchen was about to throw out a precious heirloom tomato. Chef Patel was so aghast at this person’s immediate willingness to throw something out that he decided to take everyone from his kitchen to his two-acre property and asked them to help construct and plant all of the containers for his farm. Chef Patel’s colleagues in the kitchen quickly realized how hard it is to grow that heirloom tomato and have continued to work with Chef Niven Patel on his latest project, opening this Friday, May 5th. (Yes, it has been a little delayed.) Ghee Indian Kitchen across from the Dadeland Mall, 8945 SW 72nd Place. “Good things come to those who wait”!
Chef Patel has quite a long and prolific resume, his latest was as Executive Chef at Michael’s Genuine. He started planting his farm after purchasing a home in Homestead four years ago and realized his backyard would be the perfect place to start his own organic farm. The property is entirely surrounded by lychee trees and was what drew him to this piece of real estate.
I was fortunate to be included in a farm field trip sponsored by The New Tropic, an on-line Miami newsletter. It was a gray, soggy Sunday as we drove down but we were granted a brief spell of dry weather as we toured the farm.
We were immediately greeted by Chef Patel’s infectious smile and his freshly made mango lassi made with the mangos from his farm, cardamom, mint and yogurt (of course made from scratch). All of us assembled outside for our farm tour where Chef Patel eagerly showed us all of his “treasures” as he called all of the trees and plants around his property that will provide sustenance to his newest endeavor.
We looked, touched and felt everything including those lychee trees, a curry leaf plant, black-eyed peas, taro, mangos, avocados, eggplant, ochre and more.
Chef Patel explained his style of farming includes crop rotation, herb interplanting and picking his vegetables while they are young and tender. Unfortunately, the rain returned so we all retreated back into the house for a flavorful lunch of lamb biryani (lamb layered with pomegranate juice, rice and pistachios).
We also noshed on an eggplant dish and rice, pakora fritters and a selection of desserts called a mithai platter - a selection of five traditional Indian sweets.
Ghee Indian Kitchen is scheduled to open for dinner only and will be a 100 seat restaurant featuring dishes from all regions of India but also influenced by his roots of Gujarat, a state in Western India. Chef Patel’s family style menu is created to enjoy a little bit of everything to create a total Indian culinary experience. Also, included in the restaurant will be a partnership with J. Wakefield Brewery to create Ghee’s own specialty beer made from mangos, betel leaves, kakum spice and dried mango seed. As we left, we passed by jars and jars of what was 2,000 lbs of tomatoes canned and ready for use in Ghee Indian Kitchen. We can’t wait to go!
8945 SW 72nd Place