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The men behind the menu

The Casino Hotel gives diners a look at its chefs


IN MOST cultures the world over, food forms an integral part of celebrations. Live to eat is a credo that has many followers. This could be because food satisfies the most basic of human wants - taste. From the rough, spicy textures of a roast chicken leg to the smooth softness of a chocolate mousse, food is a living sculpture that encourages everyone to experiment and innovate. If it were not for an irate cook in a Hyderabadi Nawab khana, the delicious `dum' biryani would never have been born. Whatever the reason behind innovations in food, it's taste that reigns supreme and gourmets always wait to try something new and different.

Celebrating their chefs with a new menu is the Casino Hotel. How many times have you tasted a dish at a restaurant and wanted to either congratulate or berate the person who laboured to serve it to you? Ever wondered who stirs those pots and thinks up exotic delicacies for your pleasure? Who is the chef is a question that is often left unanswered. Well, not if you are going to dine at the Tharavadu. Doing away with the established format of featuring dishes under various cuisines, the Casino Hotel has given their chefs a section to create and present the best in their repertoire. "This is a tribute to the chefs at Casino who are making wholesome dishes that they consider their personal best. They may not be exotic but they have been praised by many a connoisseur," said Corporate Chef Jose Varkey. Each section gives you a short introduction to the presiding chef and a caricature also. After all a picture can speak a thousand words! With no definite cuisine, it's the culinary skills of the chef that do the talking.

Take the example of Master Chef Sheik Asif Ali (an Oriya by birth and a Keralite after living here for 15 years) who dishes up traditional Kerala dishes like Kuttanad Konchu roast (tiger prawns of the Kuttanad backwater roasted in toddy shop tradition) and Mopillah Roast Chicken with élan.

French cuisine can be pretty daunting given the different sauces, herbs and oils used. However Chef Joice Pathipallil seems to be confident that his Lobster Thermidor or Tournado Rossini (beef steaks topped with pate and mushroom demiglase and croutons) will find many takers in Kochi.

For Chinese, turn to Chef Kurien Padivathilkal who will serve you with Drunken Fish, Sliced Duck in Hot Beans sauce or the all time favourite Stir Fried Lamb in Peking sauce.

If Hyderabadi cuisine haunts your eating moments, Chef Shivram Sahu can help you. Raan e' Shaan, a whole leg of lamb marinated in herbs and spices and served with garlic naan and dal makhani is enough to make you feel like a Nawab of yore. Or you could begin with the heavily spiced mutton soup Yakhni Shorba and wolf down the delectable Murg Banjara Kebabs.

For the lovers of sweet desserts there is a tiny selection presented by Chef Kumar and drinkers of the non-alcoholic kind can get Chef Murali to whip you a Turkish coffee or fruity yogurt.

Tharavadu in keeping with its name is a languorous place where one needs a minimum of three hours to do justice to its latest menu. Sip, savour and then swallow seems to be the way thing are done here! For those who don't want the bother of reading through lengthy menus, opt for the pre-plated composite meals in each section that comes for around Rs 275.

Each chef has very thoughtfully created special vegetarian dishes that blend traditional with the modern. The stuffed snake gourd (Rs 200) is a combination of nuts, spices and vegetables stuffed into a snake gourd, smeared with herbs and wrapped in banana leaves. Baked in a charcoal oven, it is served hot with coconut milk and steamed rice. Try it!

V.N

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