Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rendezvous with Chettinad Cuisine at ITC Sonar Bangla

Rendezvous with Chettinad Cuisine

 Tradition is best upheld by those who believe in their own tradition. When ITC Sonar Bangla invited Kolkata Food Bloggers to their on-going event Chettinad Food Festival at Eden Pavillion ,I was thrilled for more than one reason. My first delight stemmed from the fact that I had no idea about this delightful cuisine from down South  and my second delight lay in the fact that the event was being host by ITC whose own kitchen is rooted in tradition.

I was fortunate enough to meet the wonderful Chef Anand. Someone rightfully said, 'he is a magician'.
His dishes are exquisite and he can weave magic with his stories.

For instance I was surprised to know that traditionally women from Chettinad are mostly vegetarians and its only the men who ate non-vegetarian food till sometime ago. The element of influence from different cultures in their cuisine did not surprise me since it is a well known fact that the Southern community had established trade with countries far and away in the South Eastern part of the world. So Chettinad cuisine uses spices which are well known to the rest India and then its distinct flavours comes from the marriage of Indian spices with spices from different South East Asian countries where the people of this community have had great trade links with. Their influence in those countries can also be traced back to the times when trade gave way to these influences.

Chef told us how most of the traditional dishes are still served at weddings which he rightly says is one of the spheres of life where one can dive into a culture's roots and usually for the Chettinad weddings the Chef who prepares the wedding feast always sends a complimentary soup. Chef Anand had prepared Podi sadam - a kind of rasam which is the perfect appetizer with the perfect amount of tangy taste and the texture of a light clear soup.

To be fair it was a scrumptious lunch. While most of the dishes were exquisite here are some which made a mark on my taste buds.

So I definitely suggest that one tries the Sundiah , shredded pieces of lamb cooked in a blend of special spices tied with banana stems and steamed .

There is enough options for Vegetarians as well. Take for instance the Keerai Kadayal - a melt in the mouth spinach dish infused with spices and blend toa  smoothness which is delightful.

The Kola Urundai Kolambu should be a must try for meat lovers. Succulent tender meaty balls cooked in a beautiful white gravy. One cannot miss the Kozhi Uppukari - a dried chicken dish which is fantastic.

From their selectino of desserts the Rosapoo Gulkhand made a special mark on my taste buds. A beautiful bottle gourd halwa it was a delicious ending to a delicious meal. I must share that we were served three desserts and when I started with the Rosapoo Gulkhand Chef told me how there is an order to eating it so one starts with the lightest of the desserts and moves on to the heavy ones. I was glad Chef was there to guide me.

Don't miss this opportunity to immerse yourself in the cuisine from the Southern most tip of our beautiful country, India at The Eden Pavilion ITC Sonar Bangla till the 2nd of August 2014.

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