Experience beyond idli and sambhar
02nd December 2018, 03:38 Hrs
The South Indian food festival by Cidade de Goa was definitely something to look for at Café Azul. I anticipated it to be the same old rice cakes and sambhar but I was proved wrong. Without much introduction to the already popular 5 star resort that has been living a long life recently hosted one of its kind South Indian food festival. Keeping my beliefs aside we led ourselves into the contemporary styled Café Azul which otherwise during the day gives a majestic view of the Arabian Sea.
The organisers decided to think beyond the ‘breakfast meal’ and came with the concept of South Indian food festival with its vibrant form of cuisine that we little know of. Authentic cuisines from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu were included in the menu every day, one dish from each cuisine rotated religiously. Soft South Indian melody played in the background as we entered eagerly yet modestly waited for our turn at the buffet. For some authentic Southie feel, the staff was dressed in the traditional South Indian style; men donned a lungi while the women were dressed in sarees. A simple yet delicious welcome drink called Pannagam or Panakam, made from jaggery and with a dash of black pepper in chilled water was served at our table. (Panagam is a cooling drink; consider replacing the aerated beverages with this healthy drink during summers). Hot aroma made way to our nostrils, but as tempting as it seemed, there was so much to learn and eat. I was introduced to dishes that I never heard of and the names I could hardly pronounce without a glitch.
Meen pollichathu an authentic side dish of Kerala is prepared of fish marinated with spices and steamed in a banana leaf was something I’d never leave uneaten. Kodi Vepudu which means chicken fry is most popular side dish of Andhra Pradesh cooked with gunter chillies. Vegetable bonda is basically a vada of Karnataka version consumed as a snack. There was everything for everyone, veg for vegetarians and non veg for non vegetarians. It was the time for the main course now and the first thing that caught my eye was the Pachakari stew which was cooked in coconut milk with different vegetables. It is the most recommended dish for a pure vegetarian as it is filled with goodness that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Some more dishes to look for in the veg section were Vendakkai Vepudu, Andhra style stir fried lady fingers, Kaikari Mandi, Karnataka’s medley of vegetables cooked in rice water and tamarind and the oh so famous vegetable biryani in the Tamil style. There was a counter of salads, some looked familiar like the green salad which I proudly skipped and went to try beetroot pachad; grated beetroot in yogurt with some spices. The sour taste of the yogurt hit the roof as it entered my watering mouth and then neutralized as I slowly chewed the well cooked beetroot. Those crazy for yogurt, this is for you! Dishes for the non vegetarians were mildly cooked mutton chunks in coconut milk, traditional Mangalorean kingfish curry (Ah! Our favourite) with tamarind and spices called as Meenda Kajipu and spicy chicken Kurma called Kodi Miriyalu for a tongue sizzle. Alongside these dishes there were the Appam and Malabar parathas to eat along. There was so much to eat and nothing to miss but one should always keep room for desserts. Kasi halwa, white pumpkin pudding and Pal payasam, rice pudding in cardamom scented milk was unbelievable. Before being part of the luscious festival whenever someone spoke of South Indian food, first thing that ever came to my mind were the steaming idlis and crispy dosas with lip smacking masala and chutneys but of course there exists a world beyond idli and dosa in South India.
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