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Flavours from the South

MARIEN MATHEW

Dakshin, at Park Sheraton, has a new menu. Besides a State-wise categorisation, the menu has a section, Sarvottamam, culled from all the food festivals held earlier.

Kelyachi bhaji or dry raw banana preparation and karamoosa vattichularthiathu or raw papaya sauted deserve the distinction. The first is of Thanjavur Maratha lineage and the other from neighbouring Kerala. The flavours are subtle and entrancing. The mushroom curry, putta godugula koora, representing the Amalapuram Rajus, is another delicacy.

The chef, Praveen Anand said he had isolated the ethnic masala combinations of the South that give the dishes the exact native touch. Taste the kari varatharatcha masala and bite the sombu and you know it is from `Chenthamizhnadu'. The rustic mutton dish will hit the right spot, no doubt.

My personal `sarvottamam' was the tallale jahalke, crispy pan fried fish from Karnataka. It is everything a seafood enthusiast can hope for. The contrast in texture and taste was captivating. Fiery red coarse covering hid a moist buttery flesh.

The Mangalorean keerai poriyal, padpe upkari, too was excellent. The greens of the evening were the red spinach.

The combination of the fish and the spinach was simply lip-smacking.

The Telugu kadi, majjiga pulusu, will be a hit with the Mallus too. It has an uncanny similarity to the katchiya moru of Kerala.

The Mallu flag bearer of the evening, Alleppey chemeen charu, was tasty. But it had that five star sheen which didn't come from the land of its origin.

Now, for the best part of the meal, desserts. Again the all-time popular date toffee reigned supreme. Dum ka rote, a saffron flavoured semolina cake, was the next choice. It is topped with basundi.

hrow caution to the wind and try this sweet. The poppy seed payasam takes some getting used to. There are plenty more treasures to find and places to go to at Dakshin. So eat and be merry.

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