Flavours of the South
Soak in the atmosphere of South India at this food mela
IF YOU enter the Coffee Pot at The Residency expecting to savour in the by-now familiar Victorian ambience, you'll be in for a surprise. What greets your eye is South Indian splendour, all trappings intact. So, you have the kurithola from Kerala and moram, ammikkal and ural from Tamil Nadu right at the entrance of the redone restaurant.
Stewards clad in regional attire, tumblers in earthenware and leaf-lined plates add to the overall effect. So does the idea of displaying the names of the dishes on bits of green bamboo.
The menu in The South Indian Food Festival throws the spotlight on many traditional dishes that were till now confined to kitchens in the countryside. " We have been holding this fest for three years now and wanted to do something different. And, since this property is in the Kongu region, we are offering hitherto unknown traditional dishes from the region," says Corporate Chef, M Manohar.
Some help was got from the Catering Science Department of the Cherraan's Arts Science College, Kangeyam, which recently conducted a research on Kongu cuisine.
During the fest, on till February 1, over 150 dishes will be served. "About 45 items will be served daily, including six non-vegetarian and 10 vegetarian, and we are trying to ensure minimal repetition," says Manohar.
The buffet counter has been artistically arranged, with enough space for winding your way through the entire menu. The panagam, which takes the place of the regular welcome drink, was delicious. Mildly flavoured with ginger and lime, it tasted just like what you make at home for Ram Navami. Also on offer are sugarcane juice and chukku vellam.
Visiting the spot counter, which makes dosas, parottas and the like in a jiffy, is a must. The soft and layered parotta is a must-try. Different from the regular fare you eat outside, this is melt-in-the-mouth stuff. The set dosa, the Karnataka version of Oothapam, is delicious too. Accompaniments are tomato and coconut chutneys. In the rice platter, thengaai sadham, bisibela bhath and Nagore kozhi biriyani are on offer.
In the non-vegetarian section, choose from chicken, mutton and prawn delicacies. The Kongu Kari Kozhambu, heavily flavoured with jeera and sombu, tasted authentic. Whole chillies and powdered dhaniya that went into it, rendered the dish spicy.
Sunkat Jeeri Meeki, the prawn variety from Karnataka was a sour delight. The fair sprinkling of tomato and vinegar added to the tangy taste. Kozhi vellai kuruma, the gravy made with coconut paste, had a sweet flavour thanks to the addition of cashewnut.
Nagore kozhi biriyani was the kind of biriyani that would satiate the palate of a non-vegetarian lover. "We wanted to give variety of flavours in the non-vegetarian items. So, every dish tastes a little different," observes Manohar.
For a change, there are lots on offer for vegetarians too. You can choose from the tangy Pudalankai Pulusu, spicy Pallipalayam Kalan Curry and Venkaikai Milagu Piratti. The ladies finger was sheer delight, with whole pepper and the coarsely ground masala lingering on the tongue long after the meal.
Those used to the spicier Bangalore version of the bisibela bhath will find this a little bland. Thankfully, it is not choc-a-bloc with vegetables, like many are wont to prepare it now. Sample it with the colourful vadams on offer.
In the desserts section, one can savour halwa kali, panchamirtham and a host of other sweets you get to taste at home. For those who still prefer to go West for dessert, you can dip your fork into the pastries on offer.
SUBHA J RAO &
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