Burgers of bagels & karavapilai wedges at a rocking mash-up fest

Burgers just aren’t what they’re supposed to be at this new food fest — they’re a framework for innovative culinary experiments

Jaideep Sen Published :  08th September 2017 06:00 AM   |   Published :   |  08th September 2017 06:00 AM

The first thing to do at the Burger Mash Up festival, starting today at the ITC Grand Chola, is to forget everything you ever thought you knew about burgers. Supersized Big Macs, J Wellington Wimpy hamburgers, Elvis cheeseburgers, Big Kahunas, Krustys, White Castle sliders — toss ’em all out the window. Now, it’s time to entirely rethink patties in a bun.

Chef Sujosh Kahali

Truth is that Chef Sujosh Kahali and his team, otherwise known as Chef Ajit Bangera’s maverick wizards in white, have been whipping up some truly inventive, we daresay ingenious dishes, not just at the hotel’s Cafe Mercara Express diner, but across the board at the in-house eateries including Avartana, Peshawri and Madras Pavilion. So when it comes to burgers, for these culinary mavens, the basic construct of a burger is merely that — a framework to work with. 

Work those buns off
The new menu is deceptively simple, with veg and non-veg sections offering four options each. The buns, for a start, get a complete overhaul — the Crab Burger gets an aquatic blue bun, the Kozhi Roast Burger gets a turmeric-infused yellow one, the Shepherd’s Burger is wrapped in doughnuts, and the Scandinavian Burger is made of bagels.

An Andhra-style Kozhi (chicken) Roast patty makes the second option the spiciest of the lot, with a zesty tadka and South Indian chutney mayo mix for sauces, garnished with curry leaves, and served with fiery Karvapilai wedges. While the flavourful crab pie comes layered in Laksa mayo with prawn crackers and Wasabi fries.

The Scandinavian version is a revelation, served as a cold cut (garde manger) portion, with a mouth-warming combination of smoked salmon (in lemon juice), Philadelphia cheese, boiled eggs, capers and dill leaves, served with pickled vegetable shots. A definite recommend (the chefs urge patrons to leave aside the cutlery and dig in with one’s fingers; things are supposed to get a little messy).

Veg you go from here
The Quinoa Shakkarkandi (sweet potato) and Vazhaipoo options speak for the Indian preparations — the first is wrapped in flaming red buns with a tangy mango mayo sauce, and a clever insertion of a masala papad wafer for crunch. And the yellow Vazhaipoo (banana flower) burger comes with a tapioca vadam (fried dumpling) and podi (masala) wedges.

The Smoked Beetroot burger — in scrummy green buns — is crackling heaven in each bite, stuffed with feta cheese, a tart sauce of hung curd and mustard oil, garnished with cracked toasted fennel seeds. For a sweet note, the Banoffee burger is a pastry treat to write ballads about — with a patty of caramelised banana packed in doughnuts, crispy feuilletine flakes for a nutty crunch, garnished with chopped marshmallows and caramel sauce. Paired with a hazelnut mocha shot for a cold beverage, the Banoffee makes for a finger-licking meal in itself, unlike any other that you’ve ever had.

The Burger Mash Up festival begins today at Cafe Mercara Express, ITC Grand Chola. Until September 17. Noon to midnight. A la carte Rs 1,200+ per person. Details: 22200000