The Park Chennai teams up with Last Forest and Slow Food Nilgiris for a slow food festival

The ingredients are sourced from wild forest produce that is harvested by indigenous communities
Baby thooyamalli appam with country veggies
Baby thooyamalli appam with country veggies

Slow food has a reputation for meals that take a tedious four hours and then some. Deep pockets of flavour, yes. But doable on the daily? Probably not. Six ‘O’ One at The Park Chennai gives us an instant reframe to this notion with their new festival — Go With The Slow. This is in association  with Last Forest and Slow Food Nilgiris. Here ingredients are sourced from, well, the original source — the forest. Mise en place is at a minimum “because ingredients need to be at their freshest,” executive chef Ashutosh Nerlekar stresses. And cooking utensils for a handful of dishes like the Chicken Biryani and Lamb Nilgiris Khorma will be in earthen cookware.

<em>Grilled tiger prawns</em>
Grilled tiger prawns

We got to experience a special degustation menu with ingredients sourced from Last Forest — a market intermediary for wild forest produce that is harvested by indigenous communities. Some of these ingredients include sun-dried tomatoes and millets that we got a taste of in the watermelon and tomato minestrone. This appetiser elevated the classic minestrone for us with hints of smokiness from the roasted watermelon chunks, texture here and there from the finger millets and fettuccine and smooth hits of indulgence from shavings of parmesan. 

<em>Indian halibut, sweet potato & horsegram lentil</em>
Indian halibut, sweet potato & horsegram lentil

While many of these ingredients sourced from the Nilgiris forests are not particularly novel — think wild pepper, broad beans (avarakkai) and premium grade honey — it is noteworthy to mention that empowering local farmers and promoting dishes that have stories to tell are integral to the sentiment of the slow food movement. 

<em>Jamun, fig and karpuravalli</em>
Jamun, fig and karpuravalli

As for our taste buds, we particularly enjoyed modern Indian spins on ingredients rooted in tradition. Like a ghee Malabar hollandaise alongside a platter of Chemeen mulakittathu and stewed gooseberries paired with a cement-grey Jamun kulfi sitting pretty in an eggshell made of white chocolate.

What we come to realise as we savour every last morsel of this dessert is that even if slow cooking is a bit of a task in the present day, slowing down to enjoy our food — now that’s something we all can do. 

January 31 to February 9. Meal for two INR 1,800.

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