From haute to cricket cuisine

by Andree Lau, CBCnews.ca

Growing up in Vancouver, I was lucky enough to remember Vij's when it was a tiny place on West Broadway. Today, it's one of the world's leading Indian restaurants, attracting fawning food critics and celebrities alike.

Owners Vikram Vij (front-of-house and husband) and Meeru Dhalwala (head chef and wife) are best-selling cookbook authors, bringing their signature modern Indian dishes to kitchens around the world.

Vij's has added cricket to its world-renowned menu. (CBC)

This week, the duo is pushing boundaries once more, as they add insects to their menu, right next to the infamous lamb popsicles.

Dhalwala wrote about their high-end experiment in this article, explaining the potential health and environmental benefits of occasionally replacing meat with insects as a viable protein.

"Insect farming is much more efficient than livestock farming, which is one of the main polluting industries in the world. And let's not forget my favourite complaint about all the hormones and antibiotics in our meats. In comparison, insects are very clean," wrote Dhalwala.

Vij's spicy cricket paratha (CBC)

She pointed out cooked grasshopper contains about 60 per cent protein and 6 per cent fat, while the same serving of hamburger contains 18 per cent protein and 18 per cent fat.

Dhalwala acknowledges there's a yuck factor, so she's starting off customers slow, roasting crickets and grinding them into a flour to make spicy paratha, an Indian flatbread. (Two thousand crickets make enough paratha for a dozen people.)

"It's really not as gross as we think it is," she told CBC News when we did a TV story on the new dish.

If that catches on, she may move on to roasting grasshoppers with lemon and cayenne. And who knows, restaurants looking for Vij's success may just follow in its footsteps.