Showing posts with label Attukal soup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Attukal soup. Show all posts

Friday 11 September 2015

Each and every time one thinks of Royal Cuisines in India, it is more than often associated with the Mughal cuisine. Coming down to regional cuisine, the erstwhile Hyderabadi royal cuisine plays a dominant role. However other regional royal cuisines seems to have been lost with time in spite of the region being home to several famous kingdoms.

Thanks to one of the leading luxury brand of hotels, we may now have a glimpse into these long forgotten royal cuisines. The ITC group of hotels are conducting a pan India food promotion titled “Kitchens of India – Royal Repast” that showcases regional royal cuisines. Keeping in line with the theme, ITC Grand Chola in association with the Nawab of Arcot bring us to glimpses of the Nawabi cuisine from this region. In order to provide a truly royal experience, the family chefs from the Arcot Nawab’s house tirelessly worked along with the expert chefs from ITC Grand Chola’s Madras Pavilion restaurant to bring their cuisine in an ITC style. 
(Badami Shorba)
(Paya Shorba)
(Nawabi Shikampur)
(Mahi Talko)
The evening started with two Nawabi styled Shorba – ‘The Paya Shorba’ and ‘The Badami Shorba’. Both Shorba had royalty embodied on them as they were both rich and flavourful. This was followed up with four different varieties of Kebabs – two non veg and two veg. The non-veg kebabs of the evening were the ‘Mahi Talko’ and ‘Nawabi Shikampur’ while the veg options were ‘Subz Gulkhand’ and ‘Palak Anjeera’. The ‘Nawabi Shikampur’ is very similar to the Shammi kebab except that it’s made using chicken instead of mutton. Although it was flavourful, I would have loved it even better had it been a little juicier. I skipped the other kebab as it was a grilled fish and I’m not too keen on fish kebabs. On the veg, I only tried the ‘Subz Gulkhand’ as it seemed intriguing to find how the flavour of gulkhand would be used. It was nothing to be wowed about but was a bit different in comparison to the different varieties I’ve tasted over the years.
(Arcot Biryani)
(Non Vegetarian Curries)
(Paneer Amir Shah)
Coming to the mains, the highlight of the evening was the ‘Arcot Biryani’ and the regular accompaniments such as ‘Raita’ and ‘Bagarhe Baingan’. On the curries, it was a trio of lamb, poultry and seafood with ‘Goolare Gosht’, ‘Murgh Shahi Korma’ and ‘Laal Baingan Jhinga’ and for the veg it was the ‘Paneer Amir Shah’. Coming to the curries first, I liked the Murgh Korma better than the rest as it was packed with spices that emanated a rich taste along with the rotis. The Jhinga and Gosht were equally good but the Murgh was better. However the Paneer was a disappointment as the core ingredient itself was very chewy and hard. I assume it could be because of being on the counter for quite some time. Now coming to the highlight of the day, the ‘Arcot Biryani’ was truly outstanding and the chefs have probably got this spot on from the Nawab’s chef. With a tinge of saffron and well cooked meat the biryani had all characteristics of a true royal meal.
(Double ka Meetha)
(Badam Halwa)
(Meethi Dahi)
How can a royal meal be complete without some great desserts? The desserts on offer for the evening were ‘Double ka Meetha’, ‘Badam Halwa’ and ‘Meethi Dahi’. To start with, the ‘Double ka Meetha’ was just one word - YUM. The bread were soaked delectably in milky sugar syrup while still retaining some crunchiness. I loved it so much so that I helped myself with two servings of the same. While the dahi was not unique, the halwa was great in its own way. Not being very heavy on the palate, the halwa had a nice texture and a very comforting feel. Overall the Arcot cuisine on that evening had a few misses but the plusses made up for more than that. Simply the Arcot Biryani and the Double ka Meetha can keep one going on and on.

The food promotion is part of the regular buffet menu at the Madras Pavilion and is on till the 14th of September. The buffet is priced at ₹ 1950 plus taxes on all day for dinner.

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Friday 26 September 2014

What does one think of when the name of a hill station is suddenly mentioned? It would definitely be the weather, the scenic beauty and the flora & fauna that surrounds such places. But when it comes to foodies, we tend to vary slightly and think of the tea/coffee plantations and the selections that one might find there. This is primarily because the food is often an adapted cuisine from the lower places. 

This was my impression until very recently. I stumbled across a food festival that was being celebrated at ‘Taj Club House – Chennai’ centred on a cuisine which so far was just the name of a hill station for me. Yes folks, their restaurant ‘Clubhouse’ has a ‘Kodava Food Festival’ that delivers some mouth-watering delicacies from the hill district of Coorg. Chef Naresh, their cuisine specialist from ‘Vivanta by Taj – Madikeri’ has pitched tent in Chennai to bring us a true blend of Kodava dishes.
(Meen Cutlet)
(Kari Bale Cutlet)
(Koli Chuttadh)
 The evening started out with a variety of cutlets namely the ‘Meen Cutlet’, ‘Kari Bale Cutlet’ and the ‘Kummu Barthad’. As the name suggests, the first was a mixed seafood mince made into a cutlet and shallow fried. The Kari Bale were roasted banana patties while the Kummu Barthad were juicy with chilli spiced mushrooms. All three though being clearly distinct on the platter resembled a close similarity in the way they were cooked. Moving away from the cutlets, we were also served with ‘Koli Chuttadh’ which were good portion sized morsels of chicken well-seasoned with spices and then griddled to perfection. 
(Attukal Soup)
With the appetizers done, next arrived the famous ‘Attukal Soup’ which is the traditional peppered lamb shank soup. This particular soup is like a biryani and can take multiple avatars depending on the person who is preparing it. The variant of spices that one uses depends on their preference and how it has been handed over time to them. I found the soup here to be delicately spiced to hit the right notch unlike others that are either too hot or too bland. 
(The Mains)
The mains that followed were quite simple in stature but strong on flavours. The curries comprised of a simple ‘Koli Curry’, ‘Molai Kuru’ and ‘Toppu Palaya’ while the accompaniments were ‘Tarkari Pulao’, ‘Kadam Puttu’ and ‘Akki Ooti’. The Koli curry was a chicken curry cooked with ground spices and worked on with cream and coconut oil. The chicken had a strong infused flavour that clearly highlighted the dish. The Molai Kuru seemed to be the perfect dish for those who are health freaks as it packed a punch of healthy sprouts well made as a dry curry. The Toppu Palaya was a traditional Kodava curry made using double beans and exotic spices. 

The Tarkari pulao was the Kodava take on how a Veg Pulao needs to be and mind I say that it infact was quite interesting. The other two accompaniments for the evening were both relatively well known to me as they were similar to the ones that usually forms part of the Kerala cuisine. The Kadam puttu is very similar to the tall cylindrical puttu that we get in Kerala while the Akki Ooti was again very similar to the pathiris while being slightly thicker. This so reminded me of traditional meal days at home when such delicacies are home cooked. But the fare that evening was as good as home food can be. 
(Cardamom Custard)
To bring closure to this wonderful trip down Coorg’s traditional cuisine, we were served with a ‘Cardamom Custard’. This was quite tricky as there was a clear battle between the senses. The sight kept beating that it was a Caramel Custard while the palate kept rebelling because of the strong infusion of the Cardamom flavour. The dessert was over before the battle could be completed but the verdict definitely is that this is a must try as the intentional overdose of cardamom is to bring the Kodava feel into the dessert. The overall experience was clearly a pleasant on the palate.

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