Savour these dishes at the Taste of Madras food festival at JW Marriott, Kolkata
We all know about Chettinad cuisine which gets its name from a region in Tamil Nadu which has put itself on the world map because of its unique culinary tradition. What sets Chettinad cuisine apart is that it offers a mix of exciting and unique flavours which can be attributed to freshly roasted and ground spices.
The Taste of Madras, the South Indian Food Festival that is currently on at JW Marriott Kolkata is doing its bit to bring authentic taste of the erstwhile Madras Presidency to the Kolkata palette. The festival is on till 31st March, so you still have a few days to drop in and experience the authentic tastes. While a wide range of delicacies are on offer on the buffet menu, the 5 dishes we loved the most belong to the Chettinad cuisine. Here is a quick roundup.
Meen Kal Varulval ( Chettinad Sytle Fried Fish): The fish is marinated in chilli, pepper, lime juice and pinch of turmeric and then fried. It is mildly spicy and is a good starter if you love your fish.
Kaaraikudi Chicken Biriyani ( Chettinad Special Spicy Dum Rice): Kaaraikudi is a district in the Shivaganga district of Tamil Nadu and is part of an area commonly referred to as Chettinad and what sets this biriyani apart is a mix of freshly ground spices –black cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cumin and coriander which are freshly roasted, ground and then added to the rice. This recipe does not use coconut milk (which is used only in Kerela Biriyani ) and also does not have tomatoes. If you love Biriyani, you will have a favourite type, but this is something you should surely add to your repertoire.
Aadu Varutha Curry ( South Indian Style Spicy Mutton Curry): This again is the a staple of the Chettinad cuisine. Aadu refers to goat or mutton and Varutha means stir fry, so this refers to mutton curry, which is not flowy but the curry is thick and coats the ingredients. There is thus some amount of gravy. The spices used are similar, but the proportions change, plus this one also has fennel. What you get is a spicy dish which is not chilli-spicy. Savour the explosion of the spices on your taste buds, as you bite on the soft mutton pieces. Goes well with the biriyani above.
Kozhi Milagu Pirattal ( Spicy Preparation of Chicken from Chettinad Cuisine): Kozhi is chicken, milagu is black pepper and pirattal is a type of curry. So this dish is essentially pepper spiced chicken cooked with pepper, cinnamon, black cardamom and coriander. The result is a spicy, hot and flavourful side dish.
Manga Meen Kozhambu ( South Indian Style Raw Mango Fish Curry) : Manga means mango and meen is fish so this is a fish dish cooked in raw mango gravy and not in tamarind as most fish dishes. The mango adds tanginess to the curry. A variety of fishes can be used, but the one we tasted was made of seer fish. Ingredients include coriander, little tomatoes, pinch of lemon and chillies. Pairs well with steamed rice, this is a dish which is light on the stomach and has a subtle yet defined taste.
The Chettinad cuisine,developed from recipes of South India and from countries where the Chettiars have done business in, has been blended into a stylishly novel cuisine that is one of a kind. It is so easy to fall in love with it.