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Where health food is tasty

The newly opened Citrus at Hotel Savera, boasts of a health menu designed by Karen Anand

V. Ganesan

SHE IS the Queen of Lean. Years ago, when Hummus, Kimchee, Guacamole and Hawaiian Chicken were unknown to us desis, Karen Anand demystified them through her simple, easy-to-follow recipes in newspaper columns.

Before fitness studios and slimming centres became a rage, she argued eloquently for harmony and balance between taste and tradition. She has worked as a consultant to five star hotels and corporates, started the first salad bar in Mumbai, anchored TV shows, launched her own brand of food products and now has her own exclusive cookery school, Karen's Gourmet Academy.

Could there be a more impressive CV? Understandably, when Hotel Savera's signature restaurant, Citrus (ph: 28114700), opened last Saturday, there was quite a loud splash. Karen was in her element, holding forth on how the menu has been designed to erase the `taste-like-sawdust' image of health food. The restaurant also plans to offer the services of a masseuse, nutritionist and tarot card reader.

The sound of water cascading down to the pool is pleasing and the ambience at Citrus couldn't have been better. The table ware, the uniformed waiters, the service, all speak of attitude.

Now does the food have the same flair? Yes, but only in patches going by last Thursday night. The starter, broccoli and red pepper mousse (Rs.150) didn't have much of it. Were high expectations to blame? Maybe. The balance of colours and flavours was skewed in favour of the domineering broccoli.

V. Ganesan

The Thai raw mango and papaya salad with shrimp (Rs.175) was tame. And the salad was a non-starter, the bland shrimps living up to their clichéd health food image.

My sleepy taste buds perked up with the arrival of the Szechwan style noodles and tofu (Rs. 225).

The coconut-chilli cream smeared on the tofu and the faint bite in the noodles got them humming. With the honey mustard chicken (Rs. 225) there was melody, the meat pale pink and gloriously moist.

Figs poached in red wine and tea (Rs.175) continued the music. This is a simple song of hidden beauty. In the dessert section, the Swiss chocolate soufflé (Rs.195) was good, but seemed a bit confused, more cake than soufflé.

There were quite a few loose ends that night. The ordinary garlic bread passed off as Melba toast, chicken skin was present on a supposedly low cal dish and the overdone soufflé may have been a result of teething problems.

What Citrus team needs to keep in mind is the time-worn cliché, "God is in the details."

MARIEN MATHEW

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