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Treating the tongue and the nose


A busy chef at the Kabab Caravan Festival. — Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

THE LITTLE poster proudly claims: Aromatherapy by the Kabab Caravan. And you wonder what the two have in common. But if one of them tempts you enough to venture into the Le Meridien Food Festival, you are in for a treat.

Laid out by the poolside, soft North Indian music playing in the background, and fairy light lanterns hanging everywhere, the Kabab Festival is ready to be tasted.

As you seat yourself and take in the ambience, the food and beverage person and the hospitality person are by your side, asking about food choices, comfort, and explaining the different aromas available.

Once you pick between vegetarian and non- vegetarian food, you realise that the meal has a generous number of courses.

It begins with three courses where you are introduced to the large varieties of kababs available. A breather follows, where you are given a simple roti-dal combination.

The kababs come back with a vengeance where, in round five, you are asked for a refill of your favorite kababs. You assume course six of biryani and raitha is the end, when they bring along the last serving of your favourite kababs.

The stewards are kind enough to give you a few minutes to settle the six courses down, and they come back once again with four kinds of dessert. All the seven courses are typically washed down with a large mug of Kingfisher draught beer.

The entire meal is priced at Rs. 395, plus taxes.

The meal has been designed after many rounds of food trials and careful experimentation.

The trials not only involved research on different varieties of kababs available, but trying out different aromas while tasting the kababs.

Out of the hundreds of scents used in aromatherapy, Pijush Bhattacharjee, Assistant Manager, Food and Beverages, has carefully shortlisted six aromas that blend well with the food.

The choice is between lavender, which is known to harmonise the body, peppermint, which cools, patchouli, which treats mild anxiety and insomnia, frankincense, which is known for its anti-stress properties, and cedar wood, which makes one feel together with nature.

A few drops of the chosen oil are added to the water in the diffuser and the candle under the diffuser is lit.

Once the water becomes hot, the aroma rises into the air.

With this unique and first-time combination of aromas and kababs, Le Meridien hopes to serve not only the tastebuds but also the mind and the olfactory senses.

No fixed menu has been designed for the 60 kababs offered. Naming the ones available on one single day would be futile as the menu changes everyday.

During the course of the meal, do not be surprised if one member of the crew sits at the table to tell you a story behind the kabab. It all began in the rocky passages between Afghanistan and Pakistan and the arid landscapes of North India.

Travellers and traders in their caravans carried flocks of sheep and lamb, along with their spices. During meal times, all they had to do was roast the meat of the lamp and soak it in the spices.

It was a taste that grew out of their lifestyle and culture. In the valleys, the traders made vegetarian kababs, while in the desserts they tried meat kababs.

This was how the kabab was born. Le Meridien is planning to extend the concept of the Kabab Festival, along with aromatherapy, into a full-fledged restaurant.

Call 2262233 for details.

M.V.

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