Mangaluru : “Chennai Express!”-That’s right, but we are not talking about the blockbuster Bollywood movie where you enjoyed the hits like “1 2 3 4 get on the dance floor”, “Titli”, “Kashmir Main Tu Kanyakumari”, “Lungi Dance – The ‘Thalaivar(r)’ Tribute” in honour of the South Indian film actor Rajinikanth or the romantic song “Tera Rasta Main Chhodoon Na”, instead we are talking about “Chennai ‘Culinary’ Express” that has arrived at The Taj Gateway Hotel located on Old-Port Rd near Bunder here, with loads of Chennai cuisine, that is widely spread at ‘The Cardamom’ restaurant, inside Taj Gateway Hotel- So one-two-three-four-get in to “The cardamom” , to experience the culinary feast of Chennai, where the “Chennai Food Fest” has started from 9 October and will last until 18 October, 2015.
Buffets around the city are becoming a set of average food with a lot of variety with ability to eat more, rather than focus on quality, but buffets at The Taj Gateway, especially during Food Fests show the standards of QUALITY combined with QUANTITY! – and not to forget the courteous and friendly service- a “hallmark” (sign of excellence, high quality or a distinguishing feature” of Hotel Taj Gateway-Mangaluru. An example of a hallmark to a successful cuisine is freshly prepared food, with quality par excellence. If I had known that the invite to Taj Gateway ‘Chennai food festival’ was a buffet, I would have skipped it. Most certainly!!! And then I would have regretted it! Forever. But when some dishes are stunners, the buffet is more than worth it. And this Chennai cuisine buffet spread is worth trying- and its the best cuisine money can buy!
Some background history of Chennai cuisine-Chennai the capital city of Tamil Nadu and an important part of South India is home to a potpourri of vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian cuisines and is famous for its exclusive food culture and traditional range of cuisine, which is known as the South Indian food. An actual South Indian person starts the day with a cup of hot filtered coffee, which is the signature beverage of the capital city, and also of the South Indian region. Rice is the staple food of South India and this is why most of the food items are made of rice: be it the breakfast, lunch, snacks or dinner. But what is most surprising to know is that the South Indian art of culinary is a blend of all six different tastes including sweet, salt, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent. The mughlai cuisine, prepared in Tamil style, is also very appetizing and mouth-watering with an aroma of range of spices.
It all started off with the two different kinds of soup-Neerkai Rasayanam (Root vegetables with tomatoes and garnished with spices) or Kozhi Melagu Sarru (Chicken and pepper soup). Then I started with the starters like Pacchai pattani Vadai (Dry green peas tikki), and Kozhi Melagu Varuval (Chicken with black pepper). The array of salads including Garden green salad, Tenga Manga Soondal salad (of green mangoes and dal), Kuchumber salad (Cucumber salad), Brown rice salad, Sprouted Moong and carrot salad, Yoghurt cucumber, Anda Chat (Egg based salad), Chat-pata Machi salad , Dhai Vada, topping them off with dressings like Boondi Raita /Mixed Veg Raita, plain curd, and Ellu Thovayal (White til chutney)- at this point I was almost stuffed with little more space left in my belly.
I can finish my post here and the visit to this festival will still be worth it, but there was more. The piping hot appams prepared live and served with mixed vegetable stew was excellent- the appams were the best that I had so far in my life-they were soft and tasty.Then there was some Chennai style chicken and more stuff like in all buffets. And between such dishes came more excellent ones!! Karuveppillai Meen Kozhambu (Fish curry garnished/cooked with curry leaves),and Karaikudi Chicken (Roasted chicken). Stunners! It was the perfect accomplice for the appam and rice. Don’t know what was so good because I could not deconstruct the dish. It was flavourful, mild in spice, not heavy on the stomach- I loved it.
And then another stunner-the wide variety of desserts like -Semiya payasam (Vermicelli payasam), Sakkarai Pongal, Sweet Kohukattai, Coconut Burfi, Balusahi, Boondi Ladoo, and Fresh cut fruits. Both, like the rest of the meal, had a home cook touch to it and I had to really control myself from over eating. Already I had to roll to my vehicle? The exclusive and traditional Chennai cuisine was meticulously prepared by Chef Charin from Chennai, who is experienced in South Indian cuisine, especially Tamilnadu specialities- he is a cef at Taj Gateway Hotel-chennai, having employed there for a year.
To sum it all up as to what is featured at the Chennai Food Fest-you start with the Festival welcome drink-Neer Moru, which is a delicious butter milk. And for soups, you can try Neerkai Rasayanam (Root vegetables with tomatoes and garnished with spices) or Kozhi Melagu Sarru (Chicken and pepper soup). Get set with the starters like Pacchai pattani Vadai (Dry green peas tikki), and Kozhi Melagu Varuval (Chicken with black pepper). The array of salads include-Garden green salad, Tenga Manga Soondal salad (of green mangoes and dal), Kuchumber salad (Cucumber salad), Brown rice salad, Sprouted Moong and carrot salad, Yoghurt cucumber, Anda Chat (Egg based salad), Chat-pata Machi salad , Dhai Vada. Dressings for these salads include Boondi Raita /Mixed Veg Raita, plain curd, and Ellu Thovayal (White til chutney).
For main course you can savour on -(non-Veg) : Ambur Mutton Biriyani, Karuveppillai Meen Kozhambu (Fish curry garnished/cooked with curry leaves), Karaikudi Chicken (Roasted chicken), and for vegetarian food lovers : Palkatti Pattani Chettinad (Paneer and green peas in Chettinad gravy), Vazhakai Puttu (Raw banana in South Indian tamarind), Kaikari Vengaya Thal Kozhambu (Mix vegetable and spring onion curry), Urulai Kadalai Khorma (Potato and peas/Channa), Poosanikkai Thakkali Thokku (Yellow Pumpkin and Tomato curry), Thalcha Parupu (Dal curry), Chinna Vengaya Sambar (Baby onion sambar), Lemon rice, Tomato rasam, white steam rice etc. Also prepared live by the chef while you are dining, is Appam with veg stew which will served piping hot at your table.
So if you are craving for some traditional Chennai cuisine, head on to the Hotel Taj Gateway where the “Chennai Food Fest” is going on until 18 October, and experience the culinary feast of Chennai. Go hungry!
For more details/reservations call Hotel Taj Gateway at 0824-6660420 ; T K Joy-Food & Beverage Manager: 7829144550; Vinay-Sales Manager: 9886896865
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