How fancy can oats really get? 2021 was the year of the most random food trends — from potato milk to hibiscus-flavoured bakes. But how much gourmet potential does granola have? If Instagram is to be believed, oat is the next G.O.A.T.
Last year, around 17,000 people were on the waitlist for a label called Tom’s Perfect 10 Granola which earned the moniker of the ‘Birkin of Granolas.’ “Created in New York; perfected on Instagram,” their tagline reads. And if tastemakers are to be believed, it is the trendiest breakfast this season.
Last October, influencer-turned-granola maven Tom Bannister introduced his original granola label to his followers. “Each month for the next six months, I'll be making a new granola flavour in a very limited edition batch. The first flavour is a bright, fresh, and zingy ginger,” Bannister wrote alongside a photo of the Ginger Zing granola pack, which is made with ginger-infused maple syrup (sourced from a small batch syrup maker in Vermont) and blended with candied ginger, almonds, pecans and black pepper. The flavour is described as a ‘pert, perky, pick-me-up of a granola.’
It does sound pretty tempting, the ingredients are undeniably cheery and could probably make a difference in your morning. The exclusivity is a big draw since the flavours are all limited-edition — unless a flavour gets an onslaught of great reviews and earns a perfect 10 and lands itself a permanent spot on the brand’s line-up. Though individual packs are available on the label’s site, to get each month’s new flavour automatically, you have to opt for the subscription since Bannister only makes a limited number of single units for non-subscribers. As modi operandi go, it’s pretty snazzy and maybe even waitlist-worthy.
And no, the brand isn’t shipping to India at the moment (signing up to their newsletter couldn’t hurt though). Although its widespread appeal does beg the question when and how did granola get so chic?
In India, it hasn’t been a staple for long. In fact, it only graduated from energy bars to breakfast cereal base in the past decade or so. But should you be making a bigger deal about your granola this year? Kolkata-based pie maker Tripti Agarwal who runs the label The Apple of My Eye recalls a time when granola was only available as mass-produced energy bars.
“Granola is still somewhat of a niche in Kolkata at least. Not many people perceive it as a breakfast staple. So I see a lot of repeat customers, mostly it’s people who know and love it and make it their go-to pick. My granola has lots of nuts and berries, I primarily use honey as a sweetener and a little brown organic sugar. Everything is made-to-order and hand-made. Granola is basically oats, but most people don’t like mushy, cooked oats. Cornflakes are processed, packaged granola bars are sugary. So homemade, non-chunky granola really is the most versatile variant. You can eat granola any time of day which is so great. It can be used as a yoghurt-topper or with ice cream,” Agarwal shares.
The artisanal approach to granola is key to identifying its appeal. While some people treat granola as pretentious muesli, granola loyalists swear by its adaptability. Lakshmi Parakh who runs the Lake Town-based home bakery Cake It Up started making her own granola when she needed a post-workout snack. “There’s always fruit but you don’t want it every day. I just wanted to munch on something after my workouts so I started making granola. I use honey, extra virgin cold-pressed coconut oil, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds so it’s definitely healthier than store-bought options,” Parakh tells us.
The idea behind craft granola labels like Tom’s Perfect 10 or Mumbai-based Brownsalt Bakery is to perfect the classic breakfast food. It’s not just about mixing nuts with jumbo rolled oats but it’s meant to fine-tune its potential. “I make a ‘nolen gur’ and sesame granola, something I developed myself after a few tries. It’s earthy and so distinct. I released it during the ‘Sankranti’ period because I wanted to come up with some homegrown flavours, especially since we get such great ‘nolen gur’ here,” Agarwala says.
DIY hack: If you’re planning on making your own granola at home, chances are you already have what you need in your pantry! Kolkata-based chef and Masterchef India season 5 winner Kirti Bhoutika has an easy step-by-step DIY recipe for making granola at home. Watch the video below.