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As south as it gets

Taj Tristar is hosting a south Indian snacks fiesta this week


A COBBLE-STONED sliver with red awnings and wrought iron furniture radiates the sunny climes of a Parisian sidewalk café. Only the aroma is not of freshly baked croissants but the zesty tang of mirchi bhaji.

Step into Taj Tristar's Sidewalk Café for a festival of South Indian snacks. At Rs. 75 you can lay claim to the gustatory passions of the south. Culled from the hearths of the backwaters of Kerala (aapam and stew), the temple towns of Tamil Nadu (thayir vadai), the Deccani opulence of Andhra (double ka meeta) and the culinary skills of a coastal town in Karnataka (should have been Bisi Bela Bhat (h!)), the spread is a gourmand's delight.

But in the heart of the south will they be many takers for a south Indian snacks festival? "You will be surprised how many!" says P.K. Dutt, General Manager. "In an age of burgers and potato chips, ellu sadam and guliappam are getting phased out. Some of our older patrons bring their children to taste what was once part of their lives. This is also a follow up to the Awadhi food festival we had last month."

"Ashok Shetty, the executive chef will be preparing special treats for Holi. The snacks are as filling as a three-course dinner," says Ramesh K. Potty, the Food and Beverage Manager.

The festival is on till Sunday and the café will conjure up delicacies between 5 and 11 p.m. The discerning connoisseur will be welcomed with any one drink from a choice of panagam, coconut water, lime juice and rose milk. The ocular experience is part of the exercise as the snacks - Mysore bonda to onion bhaji to masala vada and the dosas - from the ubiquitous masala variety to set (of two!) to pesarratu is all prepared while you wait and watch.

The rice assortment offers a choice of two from the exotic mango rice to pulihora, the sumptuous Malabar biriyani and that choice of all ages, curd rice with avvakai.

Semiya payasam, pineapple rava kesri and ice-cream wrap up the meal. If the mixed bag has left you staggering burp it off with some filter coffee or tea or ruminate on it with some paan. Check out the festival, rediscover cuisine from this side of the Vindhyas and forget the calories for once.

DEEPA ALEXANDER

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