Be it Nandu Puttu (crab), Attirachi Kurumelagu (lamb pepper masala) or Pomfret Kalwan (Goan pomfret curry), there is much that eateries along NH-66, the 1,622 km long national highway that connects Kanyakumari to Panvel in Maharashtra, have to tickle your taste buds. All this and more is on offer at the Best of West Coast food festival underway at the Shangri-La Eros hotel in the heart of the national capital.
"We are a muti-cuisine pan-Asian restaurant and are always on the lookout for something different, hence festivals like these," Neeraj Tyagi, the hotel's EAM (Food Beverage) told IANS, as one walked in through the wide and innovatively designed entrance of the Tamra fine diner, with an amply stocked bar on the left and an equally tempting desert counter on the right.
"We have on offer Southeast Asian, Thai, European and Japanese cuisine from our five interactive live kitchens and we also want our guests to sample the best there is of Indian cuisine," Tyagi added, as without much ado, a panakam (jaggery and tamarind cooler) was served up in an immitation "khullar" with a distinct earthy flavour coming through.
The diner is very appropriately named as it harkens back to the time when copper (Tamra) vessels were the key to dishing up a perfect meal. It recreates the rustic and earthy environ of the trading markets of yore when Indian spices, jute, copper, silk, leather and the like were a rage in different corners of the world. There is much that is contemporary too -- for instance a wall of leather-strapped rolling pins and mirrored walls that provide a panoramic view of the sprawling garden below.
It was then time for the appetisers and they came in quick succession -- delicately flavoured baked prawns, lightly-spiced cheese balls, a crunchy Malabar pomfret, an innovative banana dosa and an extremely soft Bombay duck.
Along with the Mohito that had appeared for a table, all this made for a spectrum of flavours that complemented each other.
Up next were two starters, Kuzhi Paniyaram (spicy lentil dumplings) and the Attirachi Kurumelagu, which constituted a meal by themselves but one was determined to soldier on.
The non-vegetarian mains were an absolute delight, starting with a Maasa Ajadina (lamb cooked just right with ajadina spices) and Kozhi Seeragam (cumin flavoured chicken curry). The mix-and-match paid off - and how.
A short break and another mojito and one was ready for the rest -- this time the Goan Pomfret curry and Nandu Chops (crab chops masala). Both being of the seafood variety, they blended perfectly.
Given this repast, it was quite natural that one would pick a "desi" desert in spite of the vast variety on offer. Thus, it was the black rice halwa liberally sprinkled with nuts that got the nod and the sweetness was just right.
What: Best of West Coast food festival at the Shangri-La Eros hotel, till February 8.
Timings: 12.30 p.m. to 3.30 p.m.; 7 p.m. to 11.30 p.m.
Cost for two: Rs 5,000 plus taxes (Without alcohol)
(Vishnu Makhijani visited Tamra at its invitation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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