This five-star hotel offers out-of-town guests homemade South Indian podis as they check out
The Park Chennai recently added a novel gift box as a pick-up option when you check out. It comprises four metal tins, but instead of macarons or chocolate inside, this goodie bag is stocked with South Indian kitchen staples — Chettinad masala, Paruppu podi, Karvepillai podi and, of course, Sambar masala! “The idea is to be able to take a piece of Chennai back with you,” says executive chef Ashutosh Nerlekar, “sort of like a souvenir,” he adds.
Launched two months ago by the hotel’s Gourmet Store, the range is titled Culinary Souvenir. And the line-up is likely to be expanded soon, we hear. “In a few weeks, we will be adding this as a feature in all the rooms as well, alongside snacks that you can pick up at the mini-bar,” adds the chef. Prepared in small batches of a kilo or two at a time, the spice powders (with Kalpasi, a stone flower and pure rock asafoetida) are put together by a team of South Indian culinary experts, who make them fresh, each week in the hotel kitchen. “So they have a shelf life of about six months,” adds Ashutosh who hails from Pune.
Leave it to someone from outside South India to see the potential of our home spices with travelling guests. The chef came up with the idea during a breakfast run one day, he recalls. “I spotted a group of guests from Bengaluru getting mighty excited over a row of podis at the live breakfast counter, and that’s when it hit me,” he says. So now anyone visiting Chennai from Bengaluru to Bolivia can enjoy a South Indian podi, made locally — and drop it in their suitcase without ever leaving their hotel!
Podis can be bought as a gift pack or separately. Each tin has 200 grams and is priced at Rs 150 all-inclusive.
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