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Mixed flavours

Authenticity is the watchword at the Cajun and Creole food festival.


CAJUN AND Creole are the regional cuisines of the American state of Louisiana. Though the dishes have distinctive culinary history, years of evolution have resulted in a blend of Cajun and Creole influences to produce what is called `Louisiana Cooking'.

A Cajun and Creole festival is currently on at the Chola Sheraton's coffee shop, Café Mercara. Though titled `Cajun and Creole', the festival is a fusion of these two varieties. Executive chef Ramesh Javvaji says, "Cajun and Creole is a mixture of French, American, Spanish, Caribbean and Mexican flavours. The dishes are characterised by spiciness, herb content, seasoning and flavours."

There are over 20 varieties of dishes on the menu, including Creole rice and potatoes. "The dishes have been selected keeping in mind the authenticity and customer palate," says Javvaji. Since Louisiana food is essentially meat based, the chef has paid special attention to vegetarian items. Among his recommendations are the Creole onion soup, Cajun toast (garlic bread topped with baked beans and tomato), spud skins with Creole sauce, (fried potato skins with vegetable mixture, herbs, cheese and bread crumbs), Louisiana bell pepper poppers and assorted Cajun vegetable fritters.


In the non-vegetarian section, the New Orleans Gumbo Creole soup is perhaps the most famous dish of Creole tradition. A combination of chicken pieces, chicken stock, okra, tomato juice, pepper and rice, the soup can be served even as a main dish with bread. "The difference is when served as a soup Gumbo Creole will be thin while as main course it will be thick like stew," says Javvaji.

The Cajun fried prawn with pepper sauce as starter is succulent. But the chef is liberal with oil, so the cholesterol-conscious need to be cautious. In the main course, Louisiana fried fish with lemon scented butter or Cajun tartar sauce (mayonnaise with chopped gherkins, dill pickles, capers, parsley and par boiled egg) and blackened chicken supreme deserve special mention. The latter is a trademark Cajun dish with fiery-hot spicing.


"Blackened chicken supreme is chicken breast crusted with black pepper." The method of cooking, according to Javvaji, helps retain the juices within the chicken pieces. There are also grilled chicken with Carribbean pepper sauce, spiced chicken supreme with choice of plum sauce or honey lime sauce and marinated lamb fillet basted in Creole sauce with bouquetiere of vegetables.

For desserts, one can round off from the almond mousse with blue curacao, the delicious nutty divinity cake (chocolate truffle with a dash of mocha) or honey and banana loaf with fruit coulis. As Louisiana food is rich in calories the desserts have been made using low calorie whipping cream.

SANGEETH KURIAN

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