It’s time to indulge! Karavalli’s famed Aquafest is back and is going to leave you in raptures till the end of this month. A veritable feast from the sea, Bangalore’s most esteemed dining institution brings to you sublime flavours of the southern coasts. Like every year, the menu is a careful composition of recipes gleaned from homemakers with a deep love for their cuisine, perfected in the rustic kitchens of Karavalli over 26 years. Chef Naren and team have an outstanding menu this November and I for one am always surprised on how they keep pushing the perfection envelope!
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. A recipe for Masala Fried Fish?? I mean, how basic right?! You chuck some chili and turmeric paste and deep fry the fish and it’s done. Fini. Like honestly, why even bother listing it here. But I have, because we make this at home very often and it’s used as a bait to eat the rasam rice. It’s part of the family repertoire of quick fix meals when all we want to do is put our legs up and chill or in most cases, order in some greasy Chinese.
She carefully inspects the thickness of the pastry that encases the succulent chicken filling. A cross between a samosa and a gujia, the Kozhi Ada is a Moplah specialty that is actually served as a tea time snack. She laughs when I ask her about the equally enticing Ulliyada which has a caramelized onion filling. ‘Moplah cuisine is not high on vegetarian delicacies’ she says smiling, but she improvised to please the vegetarian guests. She signals to the ITC staff that the Ada is up to the mark and then settles down to regale us with tales from Moplah land. After two hours of abject gluttony and childhood stories, I’m floored by this 80-year-old diminutive food adventurer called Ummi Abdulla. Her first love – traditional Moplah cuisine, is being showcased by Dakshin, ITC Windsor till the 12th of September. Right off the bat, let’s just say you need to experience it!
Kerala has the privilege of being Gods Own Country and the dubious distinction of having the most number of toddy shops across India as well. For anyone who has tried toddy, the fermented buttermilk-like-drink is no connoisseurs poison of choice, but it sure is the cheapest way to end the day on a ‘high’ note. For people like me however, the highs are linked to the very unique food that is ubiquitous of Toddy Shops in the state. Considering women are rarely never encouraged to go to toddy shops, I’m beyond thrilled that Ente Keralam has bought the toddy shop experience to me. Just one downer – Karnataka doesn’t let establishments sell Toddy in the state (without a special toddy license), so we’ll just have to make do with the food!
I’m not certain we can call this Biryani in the purest sense of the word. But the debate on what constitutes Biryani has been raging for decades and I don’t have the time or the inclination to delve into its subtleties. For me, Biryani will always be a one-pot meal of rice and meat cooked together with spices, served with aplomb on a Sunday afternoon. Sundays would be incomplete without Biryani in our house, though logically it had no place in Andhra-Karnataka cuisine.
Bisi Bele Bath – the Kanndigas answer to dal kichidi, but with so much more pizzaz! As a Bangalorean, you can’t escape this dish – every Udupi restaurant or darshni worth its salt, will inevitably list it on its menu. There is nothing more satisfying or comforting that digging into a plate of steaming hot (bisi) lentil rice (bele bath). The accompanying chips, mixture or boondi just adds to the heavenly experience. And to top it all off is Ghee…the mother of all flavour enhancers and my personal favourite fatty item 🙂
I always have a Goa Hangover. Every time I visit the place I get back little pieces of Goa to cling to, till I can actually visit again. People will get back souvenirs, but for me it’s always been about the food. The Goa Pao, the Balchao, the Xacuti masala, the Rum Balls, the Bebinca and the Chourico.
You learn something new every day. Like there is a community in Madurai that has erstwhile Tamils who settled in Sri Lanka, who repatriated to Tamil Nadu. And that our very own Priya Bala is from that small and unique community. ITC Hotels under the aegis of ‘The Kitchens of India’ has been showcasing unique & undiscovered cuisines and cooking styles from across India. They now present “Spice Island Flavours” which is the food of Southern Tamil Nadu that has absorbed the influences of Sri Lankan culinary repertoires. This rare cuisine is on showcase at Dakshin, ITC Windsor till the 31st of August. I was invited last Friday, for a preview of the menu and a tete-a-tete with Priya, who lovingly curated and cooked the food of her childhood, alongside the chefs in the ITC kitchen.