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An 'encounter' with Mexico

`Go Mexico', a Mexican food festival at Encounters, Taj Krishna, gives a glimpse of the cuisine of the country.



TEMPTING TEMPTATIONS: Chef Sergio (L) and Chef Roberto spread out delicacies.

WALKING INTO Encounters gives one the impression of being in the land of tequila and salsa. For there are waiters dressed in ponchos and hats. The entrance to the coffee shop of the Taj Krishna is filled with cactus plants (from which tequila is obtained) and other objects associated with Mexico.

Go Mexico for a change. Besides the taste of Mexico in terms of food, there is music as well; courtesy the two chefs Roberto and Sergio dressed in Mexican attire (with a colourful sarape, which serves a multipurpose function. It can be worn on the shoulder like the dupatta, wrapped for warmth in winter or laid as a mat at home).

Do not be surprised if the chefs come to the table and sing songs with a tambourine in hand. The enthusiasm of the chefs is to be admired for after all their cooking they are game to entertain with songs as well.

"Mexican cuisine is perhaps one of the few cuisines with a deep history going back to perhaps 750 B.C," says Executive Chef Banja. This country with a rather barren rugged landscape has an amazing variety of 144 chillies besides the famous corn and kidney beans. The terrain is ideal for the growth of cactus, which perhaps accounts for the popularity of tequila.

Chefs Roberto and Chef Sergio are not new to India. They have visited almost every part of the country except "Orissa, Assam and Andaman and Nicobar Islands," according to Chef Roberto. "In fact when we go to other countries like China or Thailand we miss India more than Mexico," he adds. While in India they eat Indian food - fond as they are of fish (Kerala style) and biryani (which is a must if they are in Hyderabad). They are equally at home pronouncing Indian delicacies in the right way and love eating at dhabas.

The fare dished out by the chefs is available as a buffet and as a la carte as well. The Mexican fare is part of the regular buffet. "These chefs bring home-cooked food," says Chef Banja. And when you eat the spread you will endorse this.



MEXICO IN HYDERABAD: Just get in

All the Mexican favourites - tacos, nachos, enchiladas is all there with salsa and jalapeno peppers in brine (they are pretty pungent). The breads (banana or corn) are also worth trying out although they are a wee bit sweet.

The enchiladas are stuffed with cubes of paneer and topped with onions, tomatoes, salsa and cheese. There is a non-veg version too. The tacos are crisp and one should eat them quickly to retain the crispness. Both these are piquant enough for the Indian palate (in a way they remind one of bhel puri).

The famed chilli con carne (made of beef and lamb alternatively) is very much present. For the non-veggies there is cordero asado chichimeca (lamb), camarones maya (mango prawns), mole poblano (chilli chicken) and there is an equal variety for the veggies. Spinach crepes (pancakes stuffed with spinach), refried beans, baked potato and rajas poblanas (corn with capsicum and tomatoes). Carrot cake and brownies are the Mexican desserts. There are different menus for lunch and dinner and this menu will be changed once in four days.

The a la carte fare is standard for all days - prawns soup alvardo and sopa de tortilla (soups), tacos (vegetable and chicken), pescado a la veracruzana (fish fillets grilled), chicken in the basket (Mexcian deep fried chicken), chilli con carne, Aztec tortilla, chilli garlic potato and nachos. The desserts include brownie Mexicana and helados (a combination of orange, black currant and figs-n-honey ice cream).

For the adventurous there is tequila served the traditional way - put some salt on your hand and sip it. All gourmets get ready to go Mexican. But remember to do it before April 13. Also note that the meal comes at five-star rates.

RADHIKA RAJAMANI

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