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Potful of goodies

The Thai soups are a perfect prelude to the just-launched clay pot lunches at the Lotus



Complex flavours enhanced by clay pots: Thai Chef Prakob Samranruen at The Park Hotel — Pic. By K. V. Srinivasan

THIS IS the perfect weather for steaming soup. With the rain dithering about sulkily — coming down in buckets one minute and dribbling absentmindedly for the rest of the day — one way you can thumb your nose at the weather is by settling down at The Park's luxurious Thai restaurant, Lotus, and spooning in their soups.

Bristling with the characteristic flavours of Thailand, the soups, created by Prakob Samranruen — the new Master Chef at the Lotus — are a fascinating prelude to their just-launched clay pot lunches.

A kaleidoscope of herbs, spices and accompaniments surrounds the bubbling cauldrons of soup so that every customer can customise his/her soup and make a bouquet of favourite flavours. The coconut-based soup, for example, goes brilliantly with a splash of roasted garlic in oil to intensify its fragrance, and a dash of soya sauce spiced with green chillies for zing. To give it texture, you can throw in crunchy peanuts and then, add boiled chicken, meatballs or prawn for body.

Tom Yum is great paired with shallots and chilli flakes — but only if you're brave.

Variety of salads

Their salad section is a celebration of vibrant texture. It includes an unusual roasted cashew nut salad made with well-browned crunchy nuts served with ultra-fresh, crisp vegetables. There's also a piquant mango salad, with golden slivers of mango, chillies and slices of onion.

Unfortunately, the tenderloin salad — an overpowering celebration of lemon grass — features enough lemon grass to make even an enthusiast run for cover. In fact, the lemon grass factor might be the clay pot's one weak link in a city largely unfamiliar with its flavour. It's in the soups and in the salads. It permeates the curries and insinuates itself in the meats. It's a delicious flavour — but after some time, you're tempted to tell it to just take a hike.

The main course, served with fragrant long grained white rice, features lusciously spicy red and green curries, coloured by the wicked red and green chillies of Thailand. Most of Chef Samranruen curries are a skilful blend of complex flavours, enhanced by the clay pots they're cooked in.

Dessert consists of a platter of pretty carved fruits, and black sticky rice dessert. Though it won't win any beauty contest, the black rice, which has a rich nutty flavour, is fascinating. Steamed into a gloriously sticky state and then dunked in sweet coconut milk, it makes for a fabulously simple dessert and a delicious ending.

The Lotus offers the clay pot lunch for Rs. 425, and the soup and salad lunch for Rs. 275. For reservations call 52144000.

SHONALI MUTHALALY

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