Experience the cuisines of seven different states in one extensive food festival at Chennai's ITC Grand Chola
Seven states. One plate. If you’re wondering what we are talking about, simply head over to ITC Grand Chola’s Madras Pavilion to experience Food Trails along the NH48 — a food festival that offers cuisines from the states of Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Explaining the idea behind the festival, chef Sujosh Kahali says, “The festival is part of ITC’s Kitchens of India initiative, where the focus is on regional and traditional cuisine.” Before we start our meal, which we expect will be highway cuisine, given the name of the festival, Sujosh clarifies, “Yes, there are dishes that are typically found on highway eateries, but we also have used the NH48 as a connecting factor between seven states. So expect to find some familiar and some relatively unknown dishes being showcased at the festival.”
Our meal begins with a serving of nostalgia – spiced raw mangoes and guavas – that instantly evoke memories of balmy summer evenings for us, and of pickling with his grandmother for the chef. As we await our starters, we exchange stories, “much like one would do on a long road trip with friends,” chuckles Sujosh, adding, “that is the feeling that we want our food to invoke.” For the starters, we are treated to some samplers from the different states — including a particularly earthy Saangri Ki Tikki from Rajasthan, replete with a yoghurt centre. While Delhi’s Gosht ki Shammi did tickle our taste buds, it was the Yetti Ghee Roast from Karnataka — an explosion of sweet, spicy and tangy - doused liberally in ghee — that had us going for seconds and even thirds. Although it shines on its own as a starter, we strongly recommend eating it with the Neer Dosa (served with the mains). What arrived next was more of a palate cleanser—a melt-in-the-mouth, sweetened milk foam garnished with almonds and saffron — the Daulat ki Chaat.
There’s no denying that the main course is robust. Choose from a slow-cooked, melt-in-the-mouth Pandi Curry or a Pineapple Gojju that is bound to give you a sugar rush, both of which can be paired with pillowy soft Sannas, much like idli in its form and taste. Or if you want the taste of asli Gujarat, opt for the Papad Nu Shaak – a unique combination of crushed methi papads over which an aromatic curry of tomatoes and shallots is poured. A little heavy on the flavour of the fenugreek but eat with steamed rice, and it makes for a tasty meal. It was tough to pick a favourite between Karnataka’s Halasinakaayi Pulao (breadfruit pulao spiced liberally with coriander) and Sarai Gosht Ki Biryani (a mutton biryani, fragrant with spices – an ‘inn dish’ served on the highways outside Delhi), so we settled on equal servings of both.
For dessert, we settle for a few spoonfuls of Maharashtra’s Hirvya Vatanya Chi Kheer – an innovative kheer made of green peas, before wrapping up with a steaming cup of coffee sweetened with black jaggery, straight from the estates of Coorg.
On till April 13, dinner only
Part of the buffet at Madras Pavilion
Meal for one: Rs 2,200++