Seafood festival in The Renai Cochin serves eccentric dishes like raw mango fish salad
The Renai Cochin is familiar to Kochiites—either for their spacious banquet area or the pan-Asian cuisine served in their Black Pearl restaurant. This week we visit the property to check out their new seafood fiesta called Aazhi at their other eatery called Rasaleela. I would suggest you wait to step into the slightly revamped 48-cover outlet brightly lit by natural light before thinking about the usual karimeen pollichathu (pearl spot) and konju (prawn) with coconut.
“We are looking at traditional ingredients and wisdom for inspiration to create dishes with distinct flavour profiles. Sometimes we even have a fusion approach in creating a multi-course dining experience,” says executive chef Denny Davis, offering me a menu card. Well-crafted for a 10-day festival, I think. From soups (like crab and prawn varieties) and salads (think grilled mussels) to snacks (such as stuffed squid) and main course including tandoori platters, the card has a distinct character.
Raw mango makes our mouth water, no doubt. It seems chef calls this to his aid in designing the meen pacha manga salad. Add to it the fact that the grilled fish cubes are rubbed with bird’s eye chilli and dressed in coconut oil; a combination much familiar to every Malayali as the chutney for kappa (cassava).
“This native chilli is known to be very healthy and we know how important it is in our traditional cuisine,” chef says. If you can get together a few friends to dine here on a weekend, be sure to try their deep fried crab which is so crisp that you can bite into it without worrying about the shell! The pieces retain the taste of the oil but surprisingly isn’t greasy.
The restaurant manager warns me of their chemmeen kanthari varaval, especially since I found the salad spicy. The dish, however, has prominent flavours of kudampuli (Malabar tamarind) as the salted bird’s eye chillies offer a certain fiery undertone.
“We have multiple vendors from whom we source fresh fish on a daily basis,” says Denny, serving me a fish chatti curry, continuing, “We grill it in a banana leaf before cooking it in a gravy and customers have a choice of fish and marination.” I pair the white pomfret with some neychor and wind up the meal on the toothsome sour notes of the gravy.
From 7 pm - 11 pm.
Till November 18.