Le Meridien’s new chef de cuisine merits a laurel for his take on traditional Kerala food
I’ve done this dance before. That’s my gut feeling as I walk—with a smidgen of haughty disdain in my step—into yet another Kerala-centric food promotion that’s prosaically titled ‘Taste of Kerala’. I mentally tick the cliché checkboxes before finding my favourite corner seat within the elegant Latest Recipe restaurant: a live band playing evergreen Malayalam melodies, yes; service staff in mundu-shirt, check; random decor of gold-plated caparisons and festive umbrellas, affirmative. And let’s not forget the dishes from the Malabar region alongside Syrian Christian fare and Central Travancore specials served in mun chattis.
One thing’s different though, all of it’s prepared by Le Meridien’s newly-appointed chef de cuisine, Amal C A. He’s the ‘chemical X’ who gives an extra edge to this otherwise banal mixture of ‘sugar, spice, and everything nice’ that most luxury properties formulate, as the tourist season begins.
A platter of various pickles—including chicken, beef, and fish—is what I’m served first. It comes with a side of boiled cassava. A seemingly simple combination that’s extremely hard to pull off—as most connoisseurs immediately draw parallels to an evening spent chowing down on these in a coconut grove with a kudam (urn) full of toddy in tow.
“Yes! I totally agree. The lakeside Nettoor shappu is mere minutes away from here,” jokes chef Amal, egging me on to try the live-grilled modha fillet (marinated with crushed bird’s eye chillies), squid rings, and anchovies. Skip the anchovies, but definitely try a forkful of their naadan ari pidi (prepared in fresh coconut milk) and spicy pork roast. And since we all magically make space for dessert, regardless of the feast gnawed on, don’t miss out on the bowl of bamboo rice kheer prepared in a huge varpu.
Till September 23.
From 7 pm onwards.