Ibis Kochi’s first-ever food festival lets you kart through Karaikudi
The loud, cacophonic clang of metal spatulas striking a sizzling hotplate fills the interior of the Spice It restaurant. Not the kind of atmosphere one would expect at dinner within a business-economy hotel’s eatery. However, all is forgiven after we sink our teeth into a piping hot platter of soft kothu porotta.
No, this isn’t a Sri Lankan street food celebration—it’s the Ibis Kochi City Centre’s debut foray into food festivals and to tempt our taste buds they’re calling it Karaikudi Aachi Samayal. “Our idea is to serve Grandma or home-style servings of authentically spiced Chettinad fare,” explains executive chef Sunil Kumar, adding that he waded through a year’s worth of guest feedback to perfect his staff’s culinary skills before charting this event.
The smoky air wafting through this 52-cover spot is an ode to the extensive usage of tamarind, curry leaves, cumin seeds, red/green chillies, coriander seeds, and small onions, all staples of this particular cuisine. As the smells drive us delirious, we quickly slurp down an intense attu eleumbu kothmalli saaru, a soup which leaves the corners of our mouth burning. Chomping on some honey-chilli infused varutha valakkai (banana) chips, originally served as an appetiser, helps calm our senses.
One truly Chettinad snack that everyone needs to try here is the deep-fried sweet/savoury batter balls called paniyaram, which are crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle. Next up, chef Sunil serves a kalan (mushroom) ‘biryani’ alongside a slightly overbearing eral (prawn) curry, and delicious kozhi kolambu (specially prepared with rare spices like kalpasi, which is a kind of lichen). While the nandu karuveppillai roast is pleasing, it’s too much of a hassle to devour it sans the right tools like crab mallets/scissors.
Till May 20.