A sensory uprising: 20-day Food Festival curates a pan-Asian dream

Celebrity Chef, Lai Kuan Geo visits Hyderabad and Bengaluru to curate a 20-day Asian Food Festival, walks us through his culinary intelligentsia and more

Chokita Paul Published :  17th March 2023 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  17th March 2023 12:00 AM
Black Sesame Mochi

Black Sesame Mochi

The scent of freshly prepared food wafts through the air as Chef Lai Kuan Geo deftly moves around the kitchen, his agile fingers hoofing across the cutting board as he prepares his pan-Asian delicacies. The sizzle of ingredients and the clatter of pots and pans fill the room, creating a symphony of flavours that is almost palpable. As we look on, Chef Lai Kuan Geo moves on to his first dish, the Malaysian Curry Laksa. The glass noodles simmering in the rich, creamy broth are a sight to behold.

The chef carefully adds chunks of succulent chicken and plump prawns, the aromas wafting towards us in waves. The dish is a riot of aesthetics, the creamy broth perfectly balancing the heat of the spices. He prepares the Thai Red Curry Seafood Cakes — a medley of seafood and spices, that is fried to perfection, creating a crunchy exterior that gives way to a tender and flavourful filling. The cakes are served with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce that elevates the gourmet to new heights. We watch as he moves on to his Indonesian Lamb Rendang Curry, the meat cooked slowly in a rich blend of spices until it is tender and succulent. The curry served with a side of fluffy, fragrant rice complements the bold gastronomy via the meat.

We see the chef prepare his Satay, which was skewered and grilled to perfection, and served with a zesty peanut sauce that is a perfect accompaniment to the succulent savoury. We can almost taste the smokiness of the grilled delectable, the aroma of the spices filling our senses. Kuan’s Aromatic Crispy Duck Mandarin Pancakes is a work of art. The duck skin is delicately spiced, cooked, and served with thin, fluffy pancakes and a tangy hoisin sauce. The dish has a perfect balance of textures, the crunch of the duck skin complemented by the softness of the pancakes and the tanginess of the sauce.

The Ikan Panggang, a grilled fish dish, is next on the menu, and the Pomfret is faultlessly cooked and wrapped in banana leaves. For dessert, we watch as Kuan deftly prepares his black sesame Mochi, a charming and delicate treat that is perfect for those with a sweet tooth. As we savour each dish, we can’t help but marvel at Kuan’s expertise. The dessert was a revelation – an ode to his creative genius. A plate of tiny black sesame balls, glistening like pearls, beckoned us to indulge. The chef’s artistry worked magic as he carefully crafted each ball, rolling and moulding the dough with precision. He then dropped them one by one into a pot of boiling water, and we watched in awe as they floated to the surface, ready to be devoured. The bouquet of freshly roasted sesame seeds wafted towards us, tantalising our senses. The chef presented the dessert with a flourish, sprinkling each ball with a generous dusting of powdered sugar. As we bit into the first ball, a burst of nutty sweetness enveloped our tongues. The outer layer was soft and chewy, while the filling was a luscious, creamy blend of black sesame paste and sweetened red bean. The texture was heavenly, each bite melting in our mouths like a dream.

The dessert was a celebration of contrasts – the chewiness of the dough against the creamy filling, the nuttiness of the sesame against the sweetness of the red bean. It was a masterpiece, a testament to the chef’s unparalleled creativity and expertise in Asian cuisine. As we relished the last bite, we were struck by how the chef had managed to create a dessert that was also wholesome. With a focus on Indian diabetics, he used ingredients like black sesame seeds, which are known to have myriad health godsends. 

₹2,500 upwards for two. From March 9 to 19 at Sheraton Hyderabad, Gachibowli. 
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