MoneyFoodTravel caught up with the chef Dinesh Kumar, Sous Chef at Courtyard by Marriott, Chennai and asked him what is so special about the Chettinad cuisine and how you can try it out at home. Here is what he told us. He also shared a recipe that you can try out at home.
If you want to taste authentic dishes from one of the most prominent cuisine of Tamil Nadu, right here in Kolkata, you are in for some luck!
The Westin Kolkata Rajarhat is going to present to the city of Kolkata, a 10-day long food fiesta called Malgudi Diaries. Starting 19th till 29th April, Malgudi Diaries will present authentic local dishes from one of the most prominent cuisines of Tamil Nadu, and the culinary tradition of the Chettiars reflects the interesting history of the community. The best of this cuisine will be brought to life by Chef Dinesh Kumar of Chennai (Sous Chef at Courtyard by Marriott, Chennai).
Timing: Dinner: 7:30 pm onwards
Prices: INR 1399 plus applicable taxes
Here is what Chef Dinesh Kumar on his favourite cuisine , one is he so passionate about.
Chettinad cuisine. Why is it so famous? Chettinad is a very small region in Tamil Nadu. It contains only a few districts, but still the cuisine is world famous. It is all about the way of cooking in the region by the Chettiars. The way they cook and their passion for cooking is something that really stands out. The spices that they use are all homemade fresh ground spices. For example, they would use almost 18-20 spices for one gravy. So the food will be hot and spicy but it will not affect your stomach and it is very good for health. The meat they use is also country meat, meat grown on their own farms, whether it is chicken or mutton and they also use a lot of crabs and fish too, but they don’t have pork and beef. They never compromise with the cooking and the ingredients. The cuisine also uses a lot of gigelly oil which has got a great taste and flavour and also keeps your body cool. It also helps to reduce the effect of spices. They also use coconut oil for some dishes which again is very good for health.
Try it at home: Trying out this cuisine at home is pretty simple. The spices in the recipe and the method are important. The temperature of cooking is important and it is also important when to add the spices. “We never add masalas directly to the frying pan but only after adding tomatoes and everything so that masalas will not get burnt and bitter. We also cook the chicken without adding any water and fry the chicken with onions and tomatoes so that the spices will get into the chicken , after which only we add the water. So you completely fry the chicken before you mix the gravy,” he says .Finish with black peppers, their flavour is important and coriander leaves and bit of coconut oil on the top and you are done. These oils and spices are available anywhere, the idea is to choose a good brand. Almost all the spices are common , it is the proportion that is different.
Eral (Prawn) Chettinad Recipe
100 gm prawns
3 gm fennel leaves
Few curry leaves
50 gm chopped onion
50 gm tomato puree
50 gm chilli powder
5 gm coriander powder
5 gm Chettinad masala powder
10 gm black pepper powder
30 ml oil
10 ml coconut oil
50 ml coconut milk
Seasoning to taste
Few coriander leaves or garnish
- Heat oil and temper with fennel , curry seed and curry leaves
- Add onion , sauté till golden brown , add ginger garlic paste and tomato puree
- Add all the spices and cook for 2 minutes. Add prawn and cook without adding water
- Add Chettinad powder and coconut milk
- Finish with coconut oil and coriander leaves