This food festival in the city will take people back several hundred years to the Chola dynasty

The chefs have brought back long lost dishes back to life at the festival
Biryani, sanga kaala aviyal and more
Biryani, sanga kaala aviyal and more

Malgudi, the restaurant, is known for serving delectable South Indian dishes, and every once in a while there's a food festival that is hosted there that blows the guests' minds to oblivion. The ongoing Chola Mandalam Food Festival at the restaurant is one such event, and the chefs who've put together the menu have painstakingly brought to life several forgotten dishes that were made and enjoyed by the subjects of the long-gone Chola kingdom.

Before we began our 'tummy filling to the brim' session, we learned that some of the dishes that were set to be served to us have been long lost and can only be found in poems, like in Purananuru, and yet some have managed to survive and can be found being made in houses located in places like Nagapattinam, Pudukkottai, Thanjavur, Thiruvarur, and Tiruchirappalli.

<em>Naatu kozhi therakal</em>
Naatu kozhi therakal

With that out of the way, we started tasting the dishes. The Kadal Nandu Idicha Milagu Saaru was served first; it warmed us up well for the next dish, the Kayarukatti Kola Urundai. The yummy meatballs were tied with a thread made of banana bark and then deep-fried. Why is there a thread around the meatballs, you ask? Well, back in the Chola dynasty, binding agents like corn flour were not available, hence this method.

Then we tried the Naatu Kozhi Therakal and the Vetrilai Kozhi, two dishes that deeply impressed us. The first was made with country chicken, and the flavour of the meat shone through very well. The dry chicken was complemented by pepper corn and shallots. The next dish, made with betel leaf paste, was gobsmacking, to be honest. The chefs had used cashew paste to reduce the bitterness the betel leaves bring to the plate, which in turn elevated the dish further.

<em>Bonda</em> <em>garam</em>
Bonda garam

While we were trying out meat-based dishes, from the live counter came a dish that is served in the streets of Karur by roadside vendors. Named Karur Garam, the dish is made using puffed rice. grated vegetables, spicy peanuts, and spicy chutney. One can also add another element to the dish, and it may vary from murukku to bonda, samosa to thattai, among others. We tried the Bonda Garam, and it turned out to be excellent.

We were then given some Thanjai Meen Thengai Varuval that made us go silent until we were done with it. The king mackerel was soft and done right. The ginger, garlic, and red chilli paste used to marinate gave the dish a brown colour, and the fried grated coconut it was finished with was a genius touch.

Thiruvaiyaru Ashoka
Thiruvaiyaru Ashoka

We really wanted seconds, but before we could make up our minds about it, we were given a vegetarian dish. Fret not, it turned out to be a very interesting one. The Sanga Kaala Aviyal is an old-fashioned dish made with steamed vegetables simmered with hand-pound coconut paste. This dish is mentioned in one of the Purananuru poems, and the recipe has been lost for over 700 years. But here it was on our plate!

Although the Vathukari Nei Varuval, Paya Omelette, Kumbakonam Kadappa, Thiruvaiyaru Ashoka, and many other dishes were in the line, we skipped them all and finished our meal with a refreshing Paal Sarbath, which, it turns out, is not easy to make, for the preparation has to be done 48 hours in advance. Talk about dedication!

INR 1,500++ for two persons. On till March 3. Lunch and dinner. At The Savera.

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