Saturday, 23 August 2014

One of the iconic landmarks in Chennai is undoubtedly the tall triangle shaped building located in the heart of the arterial Anna Salai. Even from the air, this building is quite easily identifiable. Having been under construction for quite some time, it was great news for Chennaities when in 2011 it was announced that the iconic building was to be the Launchpad for Hyatt chain of hotels in Chennai. The ‘Hyatt Regency Chennai’ was opening its doors to Chennaities bringing with it some amazing restaurants. Being centrally located, it was an added advantage.

Over the years, Hyatt Regency has been a hotel that has been frequented by the family and myself as we share a lot of fond memories of family gatherings and functions. The food used to always make us feel better and never was there a complaint. Their all-day dining restaurant ‘Spice Haat’ is a regular fare for late night cravings. Recently, at a random discussion a friend told me that their Italian restaurant ‘Focaccia’ serves one of the best Tiramisu’s in Chennai. True to his words, it was divine when I got the opportunity to savour it.
Recently, the culinary department at Hyatt Regency has undergone a change of guard. The new executive chef at the helm of operations is Chef Subrata Debnath, who comes with a vast experience across Hyatt properties in India & South-East Asia. His best man who incidentally also joined recently is Chef Manvinder Singh. Coming from the food lover’s favourite city of Lucknow, this evening he wowed us with his arsenal. 
As part of the three year anniversary celebrations, Spice Haat recently had a ‘Northern Frontier Food Festival’. Banking on the expertise of Chef Manvinder, this food festival was all about culinary specialities from the regions of Punjab, Peshawar, Multan, Baluchistan and Kashmir. This region is also collectively known as the Indus region named after the famous river that flows through them. This food festival was also part of Chef Subrata’s ideology of incorporating culinary delicacies from this region onto their regular fare at Spice Haat.
The first dish to be served to us that evening was the vegetarian kebab platter comprising of ‘Bhatti da Paneer’, ‘Methi te Bhutte di Seekh’ and ‘Tandori Phaldari Chaat’. The paneer was soft and succulent while the tandoori fruit chat bought old memories back as this is something that many restaurants now do not have on their menu. The Seekh was crispy and had the right amount of flavourings to balance the kebabs on the platter. This was followed up with ‘Patiyala Shahi Machi’ and ‘Surkh Murg Tikka’. Not being a big fan of fish, the ‘Patiyala Shahi Machi’ on the contrary was perfectly cooked with the fish still being wet delivering on the flavours of the crispiness of its marinade. The Murg on the other hand delivered on all the flavours that one can associate with a Tikka. It was one of the best Chicken Tikka’s I’ve savoured till date.
(Veg Starter Platter)
(Non Veg Starter Platter)
With the starters done, the Main Courses started with an array of curries. The first to make its way was the ‘Thabe wala Kukkar’. It was a slow cooked Chicken curry with deep aroma of tandoor infused. This was followed by the ‘Keema Matar’ and ‘Masaledar Karele’. The Keema Matar was very delicate with juicy minced lamb while the Karele which is bitter gourd was creatively cooked and wrapped with veggies. The bitterness of the Karele was tantalizingly hidden with the flavoursome veggies that accompanied it. When its Indus cuisine, how can we miss out on the lentils. The ‘Maa Choliye di Daal’ is again a slow cooked dal. Chef Manvinder revealed that it is a common offering during Langars at the Gurudwaras. Just like the name says, it definitely had the feeling of mother’s touch in that it tasted absolutely like home food. The accompaniments for the curries were ‘Makke di Roti’ and ‘Meat wale Chawal’. The chawal was similar to the biryani but was different in that it did not have the usual spices rather was cooked in the stock of the lamb itself. The final gravy that made its appearance was the traditional ‘Sarson da Saag’. One difference here was that it was accompanied with Palm Sugar. Apparently in Punjab during the harvest festival, Sarson is served with palm sugar as Sugar cane is harvested at that time. I was puzzled on how the combination would work but it completely surprised me. The addition of the Jaggery gave it an extra dimension and elevated the dish in its entirety.
(Thabe wala Kukkar)
(Maa Choliye di Daal & Masaledar Karele)
(Meat wale Chawal)
(Sarson da Saag)
To bring a closure to this amazing North Western culinary experience, we were served with ‘Jalebi’ and a ‘Teele wali Kulfi’. The Kulfi was phenomenal with actual rose petals in it while the Jalebi was distinctive in its sweetness with a subtle and balance note to it. The highlight of this Northern Frontier Food Festival was also to identify the taste of Chennai in comparison to cuisine from this region as the dishes that have been accepted well will find its way on their regular buffer dishes. 
(Jalebi)
(Jalebi)
(Teele wali Kulfi)
For a price of ₹1450 plus taxes, one can savour a wide variety of International cuisines at the all-day dining restaurant ‘Spice Haat’ in Hyatt Regency Chennai located on Anna Salai.

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