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Wednesday, Jun 16, 2004

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Tantalising thali

Mullangi sambar, kozhi uppu kari and karuveppilai yerra... it's delicious home food served in style at the Thali Festival at the Connemara's Raintree


AT RAINTREE, Taj Connemara, the Thali Festival is on in full swing till June 30. When I reached there, it had just rained, the skies were grey, the stars were hardly visible, and freshly washed greenery, drenched flower petals and leaves, a forlorn wet lamp and moisture-glazed cement slabs awaited us. It was damp, yet refreshingly beautiful. The rainproof enclosure was almost full. To me, a thali means unrestrained eating. So when my thali arrived with ten katoris filled to the brim (whether it was appam, idiappam, dosa, parotta or oothappam... the choice was yet to be made), it was with a sigh of happiness that I dipped my finger into the beans usili. The menu changes every day.

Let's stray a bit beyond the festival fare. If you are one of those who can't start a meal without nibbles, then podi kozhukkattai is just the thing for you. Steamed dumplings made with semolina, rice flour and seasoning make for a simple yet scrumptious fare. Taste the karuveppilai yerra, and instantly you'll understand why it is one of the most sought-after items.

The festival serves home food all right, but with gloss. The mention of mullangi sambhar and surakkai kootu may not exactly set your pulse racing, yet you've to taste the kootu to know how finished gourd can be. The same goes for kozhi uppu kari, paruppu podi sadam or Chettinad nandu masala.

This thali business is for big eaters, who can do justice to the unlimited fare. And the price? It's Rs. 499 and Rs. 599 per head (taxes extra) for vegetarian and non-vegetarian thalis, respectively.

MARIEN MATHEW

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