Tiffin talk & textile trails
Just when you thought there were only so many variations to the ubiquitous breakfast staple, idli — podi, sambar and mini — to name a few, the executive chef of the newly-opened ibis hotel whips up the recipe of the Ramasseri idli that has a history of over 150 years. A long time in the waiting, the 21,500 sq ft business hotel finally opened earlier this month and boasts of having the longest breakfast hours across the city — from 4 am until noon. While their buffet includes the continental spread of in-house baked rolls, breads, croissants and selection of meat, eggs and other staples, the highlights of the meal are their local delicacies served with a little showmanship — dosas dished out from a four-feet dosa kallu on a thalluvandi, and the unique Ramasseri idlis, that resemble a smaller version of a thattu idli, straight off a steaming pot.
“Native to Ramaserri, located 50 km from Coimbatore, this idli was the village’s only claim to fame,” shares Chef Prabhat Ranjan, adding, “Besides using fenugreek with the other ingredients, the trick to its taste is in the way it is cooked.” Privy to the cooking process, we notice the batter is poured onto a thin muslin cloth on clay steamers and then placed onto an unglazed earthen pot. While the traditional variant demands the use of wooden fire — tamarind wood to be precise — ibis uses the convenience of a gas flame.
As we settle into the comfort of our red sofa and wait for our plate of hot idlis at their restaurant, Spice It, we realise it is well past noon when a glass of pina colada arrives at our table. Masquerading as a whole pineapple, the ice cold drink is a mocktail, courtesy the pending liquor license. “We expect to receive our permits by December, which is when our bar, The Hub, will open,” says the General Manager, Venu Gopal. A lobby bar, The Hub is located right next to the restaurant, allowing guests to order from their beverage menu.
Origin of spices
Partly set al fresco, Spice It offers all-day dining services, can seat up to 52 guests and is minimally decorated giving it a spacious, uncluttered look. With weave and thread work-inspired wall art, spread across its walkways, corridors and dining areas, ibis is the second hotel that opened in the recent past to capitalise on the textile tag of the city. While the anticipation of the idlis leaves us longing, the first dish at our table is the golouti kebab.With a melt-in-the-mouth texture, this soft cutlet shaped kebab is placed atop a crisp coin-sized tawa paratha. After a fiery beginning, the idlis arrive alongside the assorted kebab platter. Perfectly soft and fluffy with a unique bitter tinge, these idlis are just the thing if you looking to dial down the spice quotient, however, if you are feeling adventurous, try the murg ke parchey from the platter. This griddle-cooked chicken breasts marinated with saffron and yoghurt is a table favourite. For vegetarians, we suggest you try the dahi kebab, watermelon feta salad or even the hyperlocal tenga manga pattani sundal salad (a mix of coconut, raw mango and peas).
Targeted largely at customers from across the state border who come to the city for business or visits to medical and educational institutions, this 129-room hotel also offers a range of Kerala cuisine. The appam and creamy coconut kozhi stew have us reaching for more. Other specials on the menu are the Allepey fish moilee, meen pollichathu and parippu vada.
Room for thought
The fourth venture of AccorHotels in Tamil Nadu and its first in Coimbatore, ibis Coimbatore City Center attempts at being a gateway hotel for mid-management business travellers and other tourists. Equipped with essentials like Wi-Fi, LED TVs and other in-room facilities like laundry service, the 185 sq ft rooms are cosy and functional. Standardised across the board, the hotel only offers a single room category which comes with the hotel’s patented Sweet Bed — queen-sized and double. “Most of our customers are here for short stays, one night or two at the most. What these travellers are looking for is a good night’s sleep and a good morning meal. That is our USP. Our signature beds come with six layers of bedding that ensure a proper night’s rest, while we also use a specific water in showers, which allows for a relaxing bathing experience,” says Venu Gopal, while reiterating, “Our most significant feature is the eight-hour breakfast buffet that focuses on local flavours.”
That being said, their a la carte menu, however, does offer a rather large spread of Oriental, Italian and Indian cuisine through the day. “We also try to keep the food as healthy as possible. Besides millet dosas that we serve during breakfast, we also serve a millet variant of the Kerala special ada pradhaman,” says chef Prabhat, with a smile. Since we aren’t calorie counting, we opt for the rich jaggery-infused traditional version — our best decision yet!
Rooms at Rs 3,699 plus taxes. At ibis Coimbatore City Centre, near Lakshmi Mills Junction.