Organic Garden in Maldives: An interview with Executive Chef at Gili Lankanfushi
WRITER: Elwin Chan PHOTOS BY: Alvin Toh
Organic Garden in Maldives: An interview with Executive Chef at Gili Lankanfushi 30. January 2020, by Elwin Chan, Photos by Alvin Toh

If you think vegan food is boring, think again. Under Chef Hari’s inspired hand, a daikon can become a scallop, an eggplant can turn into a juicy slice of strip loin, and a concoction of almond, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt can be magically transformed into parmesan cheese.

Chef Hari’s passion comes through his food. His latest creation is the 8-course vegan dinner that takes place at Gili Lankanfushi’s very own organic garden. The garden is one of the largest in the Maldives and provides a fresh supply of organic vegetables and herbs for the kitchen.

Two dedicated gardeners tend to more than 20 kinds of crops, including eight different types of lettuces and 14 different herbs including rosemary, garlic chives and lemon verbena. The gardeners work closely with the chefs to cultivate what is required by the kitchen.

“For me, the garden is the heart and soul of the kitchen,” Chef Hari says. “When I walk in the garden, it speaks to me. What we grow here gives me so much inspiration and ideas.

Take for example the lemon verbena. When you taste it, you get five different flavours. Carrot, ginger, lemongrass, green apple and orange. It is one herb, but with so many flavours.”

It is this sense of playful curiosity that has led Chef Hari to create the very engaging and refreshing vegan dinner experience. “I wanted to redefine and push the boundaries of vegan cuisine. There are so many possibilities. All you have to do is use your imagination,” he says.

The vegan dinner takes place around the chef’s table in the middle of the organic garden, surrounded by the earthy aromas of fresh herbs and vegetables. It starts with a tour of the garden, led by Chef Hari himself. During the tour, the chef will also pick out leaves and flowers that will be used for the dinner, making this a truly farm-to-table experience.

The dinner itself will delight and entertain, with course after course of delectable creations—from the wonderful pan seared scallop (an imaginative interpretation of daikon) to the barbecued strip loin (an expertly prepared eggplant). This is vegan cuisine at a whole new level—inspired, original, and full of surprises.