Art of a Meen Tapioca
Put a food blogger in charge of planning dishes at a five-star kitchen for a week and you know things are going to get interesting. In Sara Koshy’s case, the experience at the Hyatt Regency Chennai in Teynampet was worth it just for a taste of the action behind the scenes with the chefs. “This place (kitchen) is so huge, I want to live here,” she says with a laugh. With the flavours that we got to taste ahead of her curated Syrian Christian Food Festival that starts today — that might well be an option.
We fall in love with the homestyle combination of Red Rice, Moru Kachithu and Pork Olarthu. The latter, made with a marinade of garlic, cumin and vinegar is so delicious that we must admit, we end up going back for it more than once. The usual suspects like appams and stew, Kerala parathas and Kappa Vevichathu (Tapioca mash) that contrasts beautifully with the tangy Meen Vevichathu (Red fish curry) follow in quick succession. “I grew up with most of these dishes,” shares Sara who, despite her Malayalee roots is more often associated with her oven skills, courtesy her five-year-old blog Bake Tales. Preparation for this festival had her go back in time, poring through the pages of the Mrs KM Mathews title Kerala Cookery, a wedding gift that taught her to cook, call on mentor aunts for recipe referrals and list over 60 recipes for executive chef Vikram Ganpule team to choose from.
Unexpectedly, one of our favourites turns out to be not a meat, but the Vendekka Mezhukkupuratti, ladyfinger that is as crisp as it is addictive. We aren't surprised when the Ethakka Appam (Fried Banana) and Ada Pradhamam for dessert have the same effect on us — especially given that neither is overly sweet.
Our table aesthetic also bears testament to Kerala cuisine with elements like banana chips and kadampulli (a souring agent used while preparing fish), alongside cut coconut and yellow marigolds. The raw tapioca at the far end (kappa is a must-have in Kerala households) needs something of a knack to cook. Sara gives us a recap of what she took the chefs through as we lean forward with growing fascination. The initial part is the expected boil and mash, after which the masala is ground to a course paste, she explains. However, the process every Keralite mother teaches her daughter is as important as the recipe. “Make a well in the centre of your mash and ladle in your masala,” gestures Sara. Now pile your mash on and cover with a lid on low flame. Sara finishes, “When it starts steaming, you know it’s cooked!”
The buffet is available at Spice Haat, Hyatt Regency Chennai. On from August 18 to 27. Time: 7 pm to 11.30 pm. Price: Rs 1,450 plus tax. Details: 61001234