New menu: South Indian reimagined, Avartana at ITC Grand Chola delivers a symphony in taste

Expect poetry on each plate
Pan-seared lobster and tapioca crisps
Pan-seared lobster and tapioca crisps

Ghee candles. Seabass meets gongura. And a citrus coconut? ITC Grand Chola’s gourmet dining space for elevated South Indian cuisine, Avartana, recently introduced much-awaited additions across its five menus. And our taste buds which have been tingling with anticipation were rewarded with poetry on each plate. 

<em>Fermented chilli prawn</em>
Fermented chilli prawn

Making of a menu
The new dishes which were served at an exclusive luncheon tasting recently, have been two years in the making. Senior executive chef Ajit Bangera, the man behind the innovation tells us, “The process of selection for each dish requires multiple approvals. The balance of taste and texture is sacrosanct.” Which we discover is no exaggeration, especially because as he points out, it is important to create an impact with each dish which in some courses is just one or two bites.

Like the novel flavour pairing of pork and banana. Set atop a black rock sits a pork cracker. It is topped with a sweet mash of yellaki bananas, pork belly and Salem chilli for the slightest touch of heat. Two bites, and the dish is done. But we talk about it for the next two weeks, eager to revisit the perfect romance of sweet and savoury with ingredients we never imagined together, until now that is. 

<em>Mini appams with coriander chicken</em>
Mini appams with coriander chicken

We glide through 12 courses with the restaurant’s signature distilled rasam by our side. If they could bottle this up in a wine bottle, we tell chef Bangera, our Christmas gifts for the season would be decided there and then. There is a Pumpkin Dumpling filled with a decadent butter emulsion and crackling curry leaves. A crisp Jackseed Fritter with tempered, chunks of pineapple and dollops of bell pepper jam. And later, Mini Appams sit pretty beside a green pool of rich coriander gravy. This is a stark contrast to the crispy edges of the charcoal-marinated chicken it is served with. 

<em>Citrus coconut paired with coffee ice cream</em>
Citrus coconut paired with coffee ice cream

The ghee spot
We also get to a chance to revist the now famed ‘ghee candle’ (from an earlier menu) which arrives in a different avatar this time, placed alongside a raw mango pudding. Wait for the flame to fizzle, then work that ghee into your pudding for sweet joy. The best is saved for last. Dessert is a ‘Citrus Coconut’ which looks every bit like the real thing, down to minute details like glistening drops of dew. Paired with a scoop of coffee ice cream, this one is a showstopper if there ever was one.

Meal for one: upwards of INR 2,000 ++

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