Black sesame pork to banana blossoms stir-fred, dive into unexplored cuisines at ITC Grand Chola's Northeast food festival
With a rotational menu that will be served as part of the Madras Pavilion buffet, expect 64 dishes over eight days!
Black sesame pork from Nagaland. Stir-fried Banana Blossoms from Sikkim. Or how about a chicken mince inside a golden crispy shell from Manipur? ITC Grand Chola's Northeast festival menu at the Madras Pavilion this week serves dishes brimming with flavour and names we can't pronounce. We attempt this one out loud: Hass Ytszu. And a few attempts later, decide to stick to what we do best - eating. The dish, before we forget, is a Duck Curry with fermented black bean - one of the 64 dishes chef Pramod Sinha has in store over the course of this eight-day culinary exploration.
"We are covering the seven sisters of the Northeast," he is quick to inform us, "as well as the only brother, Sikkim," we are told. This will be available over a rotational menu as part of the dinner buffet, we are told, as we slurp on a flavourful soup of chicken broth with a squeeze of lemon and delicate flour seashells at the bottom. "It's called a kauri. Each one is handmade and so when this soup is made in Sikkim (which is where the chef hails from), it is often a community activity that people get together and do before they drink their soup," the chef paints us a picture.
We also find ourselves fascinated by the vegetables that are woven through this menu that travelled with the culinary team on the plane from Kolkata. The bevy of produce includes names like Fiddlehead ferns, Pennywort and fish mint. The latter is a green herb, we are told, that tastes exactly as the name suggests - a combination of fish and mint. "We use it to make our chutneys," the chef elaborates. And this list is separate from a rundown of flowers that either take centrestage like the Roselle which flavours everything from jam to tea to cheesecake or the ginger flower that enhances the taste notes of a spicy ginger pork. We recommend you pair this with a side of steamed flower rolls, fresh and mildly sweet, for contrast.
Dessert includes options like Manipuri Black Rice Kheer and Assamese pitha filled with black sesame and jaggery. Unfortunately, neither is on the buffet tonight. So keep in mind, if you want a specific dish you have read about here, you will have to call in advance and order on request.
Ongoing till January 29, from 7 pm to 11.30 pm. INR 3,000 all-inclusive per person for buffet and soft beverages.