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Konkani capers

The Blue Flower Restaurant presents the essence of Mangalore



Photo: K. Ramesh Babu

AAH! MANGALORE - that quaint, green, rambling, friendly town of Tulu speakers on the Arabian coast. At The Blue Flower Restaurant, Taj Residency you can almost smell the salty spray as you stumble past the draped gauze nets that portray a coastal fishing village. And the fresh, sharp cuisine of this land of rolling hills and verdant vistas is for the asking at the food festival till June 27.

"It's been a while since the city hosted an authentic Mangalorean food festival. So we decided to pitch in," says Ranjit Reddy, Sales Manager, Taj Residency.

Distinct for its fiery cuisine (though not a patch on this State), coconut forms the base and is widely used, its oil as the cooking medium, its gratings or milk for curries. The repast is fit for a king and ranges from the flavoursome chicken and fish curries (baradari meen fry) made with fresh coconut milk and fiery masalas and a vegetarian repertoire that ranges from drumsticks and brinjal (nurge badane kodellu) to raw pumpkin (surangatta chilli fry).

Those great gourmands of south Kanara definitely know their coconuts. Says Chef Sajji who has flown in from the Taj Manjarun, Mangalore to lend his expertise, "Coconut milk forms the base for most of the stews especially the delicious mutton stew and the spicy Konkani tarkari stew." Chef's recommendations include the kori saaru (chicken broth), meen rawa fry (seer fish fry), kuku da mensunkai (mango masala), batate batani bezule (spicy potato-green peas curry), dal thove (a light lentil preparation), which is a speciality of the Saraswat Goud community and the kori roti (a wafer thin rice bread) as much a legacy of the Bunts as Aishwarya Rai.

Boiled rice is a favourite so is the neer dosai so called because of the watery consistency of the batter. For a heady feel one must have the sana idlis fermented in toddy. Fish is a staple diet and a delicacy when cooked as a gassi (with grams). "There is an option of buffet or a la carte with a live counter for snacks and a complimentary pint of Kingfisher beer," says C. Praveen Reddy, the restaurant's manager. At Rs. 425, the festival is on between 7.30 p.m. and 11.30 p.m.

If you don't have any Shettys, Pais or Mendozas to hang out with try the festival. Eat well. Or as they say on the other side of India, boranth ka.

DEEPA ALEXANDER

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