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Flavours from across the country


AT ST. MARK'S Hotel, the 64-cover Indian Pavilion, is aptly named so because it offers a variety of dishes from the north, south, east, and the west. Not to forget our colonial legacy, the menu also includes a range of continental delicacies such as the grilled prawns Italienne (served with parsley butter) and beef or chicken stroganoff (served with saffron rice) to name a few.

The walls have an interesting display of colonial paintings and to enhance the leitmotif of a pavilion, there is a surfeit of pleated curtains in muted browns and beige. The menu impresses with its careful selection of dishes from each region.

One can start off with Arambh (starters) and then the main course. You can indulge in the north India sonhe ke tikke (Rs. 120, finely chopped prawns, mixed with Indian spices) or the popular Mangalore chilly paneer (Rs. 80, which is marinated in yoghurt and curry leaves). The restaurant also offers the famous Kolkata dish - cocktail samosas. The special soup, served here, is mildly spiced with chicken, shrimps, noodles, and bean sprouts, and is priced at Rs. 70. Its jumbo prawn dish (Rs. 475) is a must try.

In the main course it offers vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies. You could try the bhappa macchh (Rs. 190), a Bengali delicacy made from Hilsa fish that is cooked in traditional masalas. Yoghurt and fresh ground mustard paste, it goes best with sada bhaat. If adventurous, you could try litti with mutton curry, a Bihari treat of grilled wheat dumplings stuffed with fried Bengal gram daal and spices served with mutton curry.

For vegetarians, there is bhendi Jaipuri, phool bataka, Marwari ghatte ki sabzi, and the khatta meetha Gujarati daal. You could get Ullithiyal, button onions in a tangy coconut gravy. The fluffy appams, with vegetable stew come at Rs. 30 and Rs. 120, respectively. The latter is not listed in the menu, but the staff is willing to oblige.

Fish koliwada (seer fish marinated in masala) and mutton Xacuti (Goan lamb cubes in masalas and wine vinegar, Rs. 180) are among the interesting offerings.

As for the South, you can choose from Thalassery chemmeen thiyal, fresh prawns in masala, simmered in roasted coconut gravy. Then there is the Malabar meen curry, the dry aatukaal varuval or the kozhi varutha curry.

Kadai paneer, paneer saagwala, makai gucchi mutter, kofta, daal makhani, daal tadka, are the north

Indian vegetarian offerings and kadai murgh, Kashmiri rogan josh, bhuna gosht (Rs. 185-195) can be the non-vegetarian choices.

In the "English Connection" section of the menu is a delectable range from grilled prawns Italienne (Rs. 475, served with parsley butter) to vegetable cordon bleu (Rs. 160), a cheese centred vegetable patty served with French fries. Ratatouille (Rs. 160) is a vegetable marrow, pepper and aubergine dish in a garlic flavoured tomato concase. This dish is rarely offered elsewhere and is a must try item.

To end a sumptuous repast, choose from rabri rasmalai, shahi tukda, kulfi falooda, pal payasam (Rs. 70 each), Black forest sundae (Rs. 180) or the intriguing fig and apricot fantasy (stewed figs and apricot in a sweet pancake steeped in honey and butter sauce, Rs. 80). At lunchtime, there is a more affordable buffet (Rs. 250 plus 20 per cent tax) with a vast spread of soups, salads, sandwich, raita, curd rice, ten vegetarian dishes (two continental, eight Indian), three non-vegetarian dishes (one continental, two Indian), two rice preparations, rasam, buttermilk, Indian breads, bread rolls, and eight desserts. If that were not enough, on Sundays, the buffet (Rs. 275 plus 20 per cent tax) has, in addition to the above spread, a special chaat counter.

Valet parking is not available, credit cards are accepted and the lunch timings are from 1p.m. to 3 p.m., while dinner is from 7.30 p.m. to 11 p.m.. For more information, contact St. Mark's Hotel on 2279090/2245981.

ARUN BHATIA

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