With Madras Day coming up on August 22, celebrate the week with dishes that have stories to tell

From Anglo-Indian railway cutlets to Saurashtrian keerai vadai, discover the culinary influences in Chennai’s foodscape at this pop-up that celebrates Madras Week.

author_img Sabrina Rajan Published :  19th August 2022 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  19th August 2022 12:00 AM

Special Thali at Madras Kitchen Company

This Madras Week, food historian and researcher Rakesh Raghunathan collaborates with MKC (the Madras Kitchen Company restaurant at the Westin Chennai Velachery) to bring us a fascinating week long pop-up called the Madras Odyssey that celebrates eight significant communities that have influenced the food in Chennai. “I have attempted to blend recipes and flavour combinations that give you the culinary history of Madras on a platter. The recipes are unique and have a story to tell,” promises Rakesh.

Armenian fish at the Madras Kitchen Company

We sip on a tall glass of nannari sherbet and catch up with executive chef Biju Philiph as he tells us how he started this restaurant in 2019 with the purpose of celebrating and showcasing South Indian signatures. We start off with a gentle Mulligatawny Soup that has some comforting overcooked rice at the bottom of the bowl. We suggest you don’t ask for a second round, however tempting, because trust us — the thali that is on its way to your table needs you to have an appetite! The platter is heavily laden and we start with the kheemastuffed pointed gourd that is robust with spices and makes for an oddly delightful pair for the Mullu Murunga Keerai Vadai (a Saurashtrian offering). Though called a vadai — these are scrumptious puri-like small creations which satiate our fondness for deep-fried treats. The Country Captain Chicken Curry is homely in flavour, while the Pulusu Pindi from the Arya Vaishyas is made of rice flour cooked with the addictive flavours of tamarind, spice and jaggery. The Dal Bati Churma impresses with the sheer generosity of the ghee used. Our favourites from the thali are the Parsi signatures — a sweetish Berry Pulao with Kolmi Na Patio (juicy prawns in a thick piquant tomato gravy).

Dessert platter at the Madras Kitchen Company

From the a la carte options we try the Armenian fish which is delicate and full of bones — we suggest you use your fingers to eat this one. The fish is tasty but tame on the spice scale. The mint Chutney Bread with a bucket of meat shank curry is delicious and though the bread is inventive — the heart craves for a bourgeois paratha to dunk into the gravy. The dessert platter is an education in sugar levels. We recommend you start with the Laganu Custard and then scale it up with the Jam Roly Poly before diving into the Bun Halwa and then finally gorge on the sweet and perfectly crafted Ghewar — with not a care in the world!

At the Westin Chennai Velachery.

Open for dinner only, at INR 1,110 ++ onwards per thali.

The Madras Odyssey festival is on from August 19 to 31.