This seven-course meal at The Park Chennai features flavour combinations like umami pongal!
Vijhay Ganesh M cured his chronic acidity by making it his mission to research food traditions of yore. Ayurveda meets Siddha meets Naturopathy as part of his unconventionally curated menus — the likes of which include his most recent lockdown-inspired Umami Pongal — with tuna woven into the mix! The 30-year-old founder of the restaurant Maiyam (translates to centre in Tamil) in Auroville will be hosting Past Food Re:Imagined, a seven-course meal at The Park Chennai this weekend. Expect flavour combinations you wouldn’t put together peppered with tidbits of wisdom on ‘how to eat’ from his travels.
How, by the way, covers a spectrum of nuance that is easy to miss unless you are paying close attention. For starters, Vijhay tells us, “I always serve food in the order it is designed to digest.” That usually means dessert first because sweetness, we’re told, stimulates enzymes necessary for digestion. On a textural note, he adds, “The courses go from soft to hard to progressively harder.” If you haven’t guessed why already, this is to prevent dishes that can digest quickly from overlapping with foods that might take longer.
He also speaks of ‘emotion-centric’ flavours. And this gets us plenty curious. “A lot of what we eat everyday influences our emotions without us realising it,” he elaborates. Sugar, which can lead to a high and then crash is perhaps the most obvious one — prevalent in a range of foods from instant noodles to ketchup to the coffee we can’t seem to start our day without. Possibly why Vijhay is choosing to strategically end the meal tonight with a ‘secret’ astringent. The latter, he informs us helps curb cravings, as opposed to encourage a second helping.
Tempted to touch?
The best is yet to come. It turns out your waiters will forget your cutlery on purpose. Why? “Elderly village healers in South India have told me that each time you touch your food, is an indicator to the stomach, the quantity of digestive juices to release,” he tells us. We’ll lick our fingers to that!
On March 26. At Lotus, The Park Chennai. INR 2,500 all-inclusive per person. 8 pm.
What to expect
■ Umami Pongal
■ Kullakar dosa with a tuna filling and tossed banana flower
■ Ragi pandan coconut custard