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Kerala flavour

Rare Kerala dishes are being served at a Kerala food festival held at The South Park.

Photo: Santhosh Pangode

The South Park, which organises a food festival every three months, has been holding a Kerala festival (buffet dinner) from July 4.

Says B. T. Francis, executive chef, "Organising food festivals every month is not feasible in a place where there is no nightlife."

The food festivals at The South Park are planned a month in advance, and in the case of special ones, such as a continental food festival, planning is done two month beforehand. This is to enable them gather (and even import) the ingredients necessary for their fare.

The 10-day Kerala food festival at Regency in The South Park is complete with a touch of Kerala - from the thulasithara outside to the Kerala paintings adorning the walls, coconut palm leaf decorations and mundu-clad attendants. But the live Carnatic music, which is aimed at soothing you, turns unmusical at times, annoying you. But the pains taken to bring in the perfect ambience is commendable.

This festival gives you a chance to taste some of the rare Kerala dishes which you never knew existed, some of them being duck korma and Mundakkayam fish curry.

"Menu for the whole festival has already been decided. Each day will see a new set of dishes, which would hardly be repeated," says Nagappan Nair, the F&B manager.

The first thing that catches your attention as you enter the buffet bay is the aesthetic arrangement of pickles, and salads served on vegetable carvings. You have a variety of pickles to choose from, some of them being chemmeen chammanthi, mango chammanthi, coconut chammanthi, lime pickle, fish pickle, bitter gourd pickle and pineapple chutney. Among the salads, you can find the dry prawn salad, rice and pineapple salad, and netholi salad.

The main dish consists of plain rice, chamba rice, lemon rice, appam, cheratta puttu and kappa. There is a wide spread of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Duck korma is a yummy dish, with the gravy of pure coconut milk. The Mundakayam fish curry is excellent, so is Karimeen pollichathu, which is fish covered with banana leaf and steamed. Health freaks can sure freak out on this. The Malabari mutton korma and Syrian beef fry vie with each other in taste.

No Kerala feast is complete without avial, kalan and theeyal. One of the specialities you find in this festival is Banana kalan, which is sweet and sour with a hint of spice.

The sumptuous meal can be topped up with payasams - Ambalapuzha payasam, ada pradhaman and mango pradhaman. Neyyappam is another choice. But the recommended one would be stuffed banana with coconut sauce. This is nenthrapazham stuffed with coconut and raisins and steamed to perfection. This tastes best with coconut sauce, which is coconut milk and sugar whipped with cream.

Though priced at Rs. 300 per head, the buffet is worth every penny you pay and leaves you satiated, at least till the next morning.

AMBIKA VARMA

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