We try some rather interesting leaf-based dishes at Crowne Plaza that piqued our interest

Don't try to take a leaf out of this eh!
The Kozhi Vetrilai served at the festival
The Kozhi Vetrilai served at the festival

Leaves, not the ones you ask your boss for, but those from flora, are often the most overlooked components of a plant. While infusing leaves into dishes might be deemed not-so-common, especially those that contain Jackfruit leaf, Executive Chef Gobu Kumar at the Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park has curated a special menu comprising both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes made using Banana, Betel, Fig, Guava, Jackfruit and Lotus leaves!

Before we began tasting the dishes, we asked the chef the reason for coming up with such a menu that, for all intents and purposes, was rather green. Gobu Kumar explained that while the whole world awaits Thanksgiving and Christmas, he wanted to bring something healthy and something global to the table. About one month's research went into this before the menu was finalised, he added.

The first dish served to us was the Raw Banana Polichathu, a Kerala-style dish that had the right amount of heat. Mix it with some rice, add some ghee on top and you have your lunch! The plantain was cooked to perfection and thus, it was as smooth as butter to cut with a knife.

While we were enjoying that, the Kozhi Vetrilai landed on our table. Served with betel leaves, betel leaf crisps and apple and pineapple, the chicken-based dish was rather delicious. The fruits on offer cut the bitterness of the leaf, while the chicken was moist and juicy. To some, this dish might be confusing, for there are several flavours at play here. But, after the first bite, the whole dish starts to make sense and somehow, all the flavours and tastes gel together as if they were meant to be!

The Black Quinoa and Goat Cheese Tikki was a delectable dish.
The Black Quinoa and Goat Cheese Tikki was a delectable dish.

Skipping the Lotus and Jackfruit leaf-based dishes, we tried the Black Quinoa and Goat Cheese Tikki and the Dhungar Murgh. Both were served with a rather tasty and tangy curry and were Guava leaf-based dishes. The tikki was a delight on its own. The greenish brown-coloured dish was of the right size and had a soft filling. It was like a cutlet, but a healthy one that tasted rather nice.

The Dhungar Murgh, on the other hand, was rather delicious. The smoked chicken curry was too good to be true and the way meat worked with the flavour of the guava leaf was rather interesting. It does not confuse one like the above-mentioned chicken dish and is definitely a must-try.

Chef Gobu had saved the best for last. Yep, desserts and they were made with fig leaf as an ingredient. The Elai Adai Cheesecake with its coconut-based... erm, base was a rather tasty dish. People who love cheesecake will not be able to tell the difference between a regular one and the fig-infused dish. It was made to perfection.

Also read: Nuts about Coconut

However, the dish that floored us was the Kavini Arisi Pongal. It was a bowl of black, sticky goodness with some nuts on top. It tasted exactly like how a sweet pongal made with jaggery does, but it was made using wild black rice which is not known to be easy to work with. But in this context, it was made into a rather tasty dish and one that we wanted more and more of. Healthy food is rather fun, if made this way eh!

INR 595 onwards. On till November 25. At Cappuccino, Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park.

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