Bom apetite, Chennai! Try out this brand new Portuguese food festival for an explosion of exotic, yet familiar flavours!

This Portuguese food festival takes you on a culinary journey from homeland Portugal to Kerala via East Africa, through dishes that feel like home

Romal Laisram Published :  16th March 2023 11:55 PM   |   Published :   |  16th March 2023 11:55 PM
Sukama Wiki, Acorda De Mariscos & Unnakaya from Festa De Portugal

Sukama Wiki, Acorda De Mariscos & Unnakaya from Festa De Portugal

Portuguese food always seems so familiar. This would primarily be due to the fact that Portugal had such a huge influence on our culinary sensibilities, especially here in South India, all thanks to their imperial presence on our soil for over a century. It was therefore imperative that we checked out this food promotion at On The Rocks, Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park, especially when we heard that sous chef Manoj Kumar would be curating this special menu.

Festa De Portugal — a culinary trail from Portugal to Calicut, begins with an amuse bouche that pays tribute to the agricultural contributions of the Portuguese to India and South East Asia. Featuring a Cheese and Cashew Forminhas (Goan-style canapés), the corn tortilla tart focuses on cheese and cashews — both cuisine additions that were aided by Portuguese culture! We quickly follow this with a Caldo Verde, a potato soup and an Acorda De Marsicos — a shellfish soup — both representative of the motherland, which in this case is, Portugal. The soups were nourishing, flavourful and hearty, just what we expect continental Portuguese cuisine to be like. They were also great reprieves from the very comme ci, comme ça amuse bouche.

Roast Onion Chamussas

The starters that came next were from Mozambique — Roast Onion Chamussas, an Afro-Portuguese filo take on our humble onion samosa; and a Rissóis de Camarão or Afro-Portuguese shrimp turnovers. It’s tough to screw these up, but kudos to the chef for choosing something so exotic. We then shifted focus to our entrées from Malindi, the erstwhile Portuguese colony in Kenya. With stronger influences from East Africa here, the dishes served were the Nyama, roasted chicken thigh served on vegetables alongside a jus; and Sukama Wiki, root vegetables and collard greens served alongside sourdough bread. We were expecting that kick of African spice, which while present subtly, didn’t really scream for attention — should we credit the chef for this nuance or did we just get lucky? We’ll go with the former.

Our mains, rice-based dishes from Mogadishu, Somalia; were Baris Iskukaris served with lamb or potatoes and while the flavour-infused rice was delectable, it wasn’t very different from the multitude of spiced rice dishes that populate all of Asia and Africa. That slight letdown was however, more than made up for in our last course, dessert, that brought us back safely home to delicious fried roundels of Kozhikode-style Unnakaya (banana, coconut and jaggery) served with ice-cream that was the perfect end to the meal.

INR 2,750 onwards. Dinner only. On till March 26.