South Indian Food Festival – Hyatt Regency, Mumbai
When you think of south Indian food what comes to your mind is Idli, Dosa, Sambhar, Chutney. But is that all south Indian food is all about? The states comprising the South of India are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. Each of these states has something unique and very special to offer. Although the cuisine of each state is entirely different, and each state has their unique cooking style and ingredients. Overall, there is a common thread that binds them all.
When I was invited to this south Indian food festival by Chef Gopi NandKumar, Executive Chef – Hyatt Regency, Mumbai. I was anticipating some untapped dishes, some lost recipe which we do not find outside south Indian homes.
My platter consisted of the whole South India on my plate. I savoured Ama Vadai (Dal Vada) from Tamil Nadu, Biryani from Andhra Pradesh, Fish curry from Madurai, Besibelabath from Karnataka, Eeral Varuval from Tamil Nadu and Elaneer payasam from Kerala.
First came the Soup of the day, Yera Saaru (Prawn Broth) it was very flavourful, punched a kick with loads of pepper.
Next in line was the starters. Podalankai Pakora (Snake Gourd Pakora) that was quite new as I am used to having snake gourd prepared in vegetable format and never as pakora. It was crunchy and tasty. Karuveppillai Kozhi (Chicken marinated with Curry leaves, grilled), was very flavoursome, Meen Varuval (Fish fry) and Ama Vadai (Lentil patties). Along with the starters they served me few nibbles which perfectly goes with your drinks. Nibbles included Jackfruit chips, Murukku, Ribbon Pakora and Gud Pak.
Main course – Madurai Meen Kozhambhu (fish curry, Madurai style) was very mild and smooth with coconut milk.
The Tamil style Eeral Varuval (Liver masala) packed a punch and the Mamsam Biryani (Chettinad style Mutton biryani) differed from the Awadhi or Hyderabadi biryani what we are normally used to.
Kaikari Mandi (Vegetable curry) and Vendakkai Masala (Okra tossed in Chettinad spices) were chef’s special as the recipes were from grandmas recipe from chefs home.
Bisibelabath (Karnataka style rice preparation). Each of the dishes brought out the uniqueness of the flavour and spices from the state it originated.
There was a Vada Station created, and three different types of vadas were served. – Thayir vada (Curd vada), Sambar vada and Rasam vada
Then there was a Dosa Station – Pesarattu (Green Gram Dosa), Adai and few other types of Dosas were served.
Malabar Paratha Station – here Malabar style crispy parathas were served with a mildly flavoured stew.
The Dessert sections had Ada Pradhaman (Rice crisps, Kerala style payasam), Sarkarai Pongal (sugar candy rice), Mysore Pak, Jangri and Elaneer payasam (Coconut water infused payasam).
We live in a country, where a recipe changes in every 50kms, it seems it will take a lifetime for anybody to document all the components, Regional flavours, lost recipes, family secrets will come to open once food festivals like this are done more often. People will more and more be aware of the unheard gems which are hidden in different parts of our country.
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