The South Indian Food Festival has kicked off from today, 26th February, 2016, and I was invited to a special preview today. Chef Arokia Das and Chef Janarthanan had come all the way from Tamil Nadu to prepare a special set of dishes which would be a part of the buffet.
The Chefs had created a menu with an assortment of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, and we started off with a refreshing salad and a glass of Hallu Hussru Panaga, or a drink with crushed and strained green mung beans from Tamil Nadu.
The Papaya Salad with Curry Leaves was refreshing and a great start. The pieces of fresh papaya were juicy and sweet and the curry leaves added a lovely depth. We also tried the Murungakai, a soup made with drumsticks (moringa) and mung beans, and it was spicy and a good way of starting off a meal.
The Masala Vadai were spicy and crisp, and served with a rather addictive coconut and garlic chutney, laced with chillies. I also liked the different podis these came with.
I am not a fan of bananas, so although the Pazha Dosai tasted nice, it really wasn’t my thing, despite the rather appealing crunch from the nuts encrusting the banana and flour patties.
I am a major fan of Mutton Sukka, and this version was dry-ish, but the mutton was soft, and tossed with whole pods of soft garlic. I asked for some rice to mix with this, added a few chillies, and proceeded to reside in a state of unbearable happiness.
The Prawn Varuval was spicy and the succulent prawns made D’s eyes light up. I liked the rather unique dish of babycorn and pepper (Mokkachonna Meriyali) which was dry and great with some more rice. There was another wonderful dish of Fish Varuval, where the fish was moist and flaky, covered with a primarily curry-leaf based coating.
The Chicken Curry, Chef Janarthan explained, was a Chettinad specialty, and one must eat some rice with it to truly understand the curry. Who was I to disagree? Therefore, more rice followed. The pieces of chicken were soft and juicy in a gravy which was heavily tomato and ginger based, with a hint of coriander and curry leaves.
Madurai Kari Dosa
Although there were other dishes, my eyes were riveted at the Madurai Kari Dosa, which I have heard of aplenty from friends. The combination of minced mutton and egg-laced dosa had sounded great, and this version was delicious, with tiny pieces of well-cooked meat and eggs, served with a side of chicken gravy, and I had to ask for a second helping.
In the staples section, there was a rather delighful peppery Rasam, and also Rice with Raw Banana, which was, again, something I haven’t tasted before. The fragrant hit from cardamom was quite pronounced in the rice.
We finished with an assortment of desserts – Aval Payasam (pressed rice kheer), and Ukkarai (mung dal and coconut), which ended a rather sumptuous meal. In case you love condiments, you would find some great mango pickle with garlic and curd-coated chillies, deep fried, with your meal.
The South Indian Food Festival at K-19, Park Plaza will be on till the 6th of March, 2016, and the items will be available during lunch and dinner (12 noon to 3 pm and 7 pm to 10.45 pm). The lunch menu will have a-la-carte served, while the dinner buffet is priced at INR 1299/- plus taxes per person and 799/- plus taxes for Children under 12.
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee dined at K-19 Park Plaza at the kind invitation of the management.