5 Star, Chennai, Eating out, Iftar, Indian, Ramadan, Ramzan Specials

Nihari to the rescue!

With the iftar offerings going from bad to worse, and haleem and nombu kanji competing for the worst dish awards, I almost forgot about a dish that won me over last year. Served at the ITC Grand Chola, the Nihari was new introduction to the city’s iftar palate, but one that was poorly advertised. I checked with ITC and it was available this year too, so come Sunday, the family iftar eat out happened at Cafe Mercara.

It was as set menu. We were offered a choice between haleem and nihari for one dish and choice of breads for the second main course. A platter of fruits, dates and a rose sherbet arrived first to help the stomach ease into the next course.

There was no next course. All three courses arrived together in a neat set menu, similar to the Welcome meals served at ITC hotels. Since we were four adults (and two kids, their drinks came free), we were able to sample both the haleem and the nihari (and four different breads in each of our plates). Biriyani and Dhal Makhni completed the well plated platter.

The Nihari, a slow cooked broth with lamb marrow, had meat falling off the bone with ease, with some saltiness of the broth adding a nice flavour tone and the pink meat giving out all the flavour notes of a beautifully cooked lamb. Dhal Makhni at ITC hotels are usually spot on and today was no different. Four pieces of naan and butter naan and garlic naan and roti simply eased into the tummy.
The biriyani was all meat with a little rice here and there. Seriously! Every plate had good portions of succulent meat that the kids also enjoyed as there was so much to share. I also gulped down some haleem from my sister’s plate (and sneaked it into the photo)! Thankfully, the haleem was good as I had given up on haleem in Chennai. Thankfully!

A saffron phirni in a mud pot served chilled and thick with saffron dominating the plate completed an excellent iftar meal for the first time this Ramadan. We paid Rs. 6004 including all taxes for four adults with enough food to share with the two kids. This is probably the only place in Chennai serving a sit down iftar meal, appropriately priced! 

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Chennai, Eating out, Food Festivals, Hyderabaid, Indian, Nizam, Ramadan, Ramzan Specials, South Indian

The Nizami Ramadan Repast

The search of haleem continues and the disappointments continue. Luckily sometimes the rest of the food makes up, or in this case more than makes up for the haleem. Hyatt has flown in a chef from Hyderabad to recreate the dinners of the Nizams. This is not an iftar buffet, but a dinner buffet. An invite to any royal food festival is exciting, but during Ramadan, festival like the Nizami past are more exciting. It gives us a chance to sample Ramadan food from around the country.

And the first thing he seems to have re-created is the Raan. Literally a lamb leg piece, which colloquially is a funny phrase, the first dish served on the plate was a stunner. Succulent and flavourful with spices adding depths of flavour without overpowering the natural flavour of the mutton, this one dish was enough to make dinner great. There were other starters, a nice but not-juicy sheekh kebab, an excellent chicken kebab and two wonderful vegetarian dishes, a cheesy grilled cauliflower and a soft vegetarian kebab, but the Raan was too good to miss and fill up the tummy with others.

But nothing prepared me for the biriyani. Kacche ki Gosht biriyani. First of all, I was surprised to see it on the menu. A kacche gosht biriyani style I thought is a dying art. The amount of patience that it requires is humongous and the training involved in making good ones is mediocre. So much so that some articles suggested that there were only a handful of those khansamas alive in Hyderabad. I believe it is being replaced by more mediocre techniques. That is why I was surprised to see it on the menu. Why is this so difficult? This type of biriyani technique uses raw meat over long grain rice and is cooked till the meat is, well, cooked. Cooking raw meat over rice is not an easy technique, so rarely do hotels make this form of biriyani. The outcome was a biriyani with a lot more flavour than ones from most hotels. Well cooked mutton and the flavours of slow cooking seeping in resulted in a lovely biriyani. A good brinjal side dish completed the dish.

The haleem though was a disappointment. It was partially cooked and finished off in the stove, something that was a turn off even before eating, and tasting it only confirmed the worst. The biriyani more than made up for the terrible haleem
The sweets of the festival were a mixed bag. The Qubani Meeta is something that should be left to the classics, especially in a festival like this. An alien flavour spoilt what would have been an otherwise very good dish. A little probing revealed that it was flavoured with Roohafsa, a rose flavoured syrup used extensively in the region. That ended up making the dish a little too sweet, even for someone like me with a sweet tooth. The double ka meeta and payasams were good enough to finish a meal with an awesome biriyani.
This festival is all about the biriyani and the raan. The menu changes everyday so I hope you get these when you visit. Fingers crossed! The festival is on till the 25th of June! 

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Chennai, Eating out, Food Festivals, Hyderabaid, Indian, Nizam, Ramadan, Ramzan Specials, South Indian

The Nizami Ramadan Repast

The search of haleem continues and the disappointments continue. Luckily sometimes the rest of the food makes up, or in this case more than makes up for the haleem. Hyatt has flown in a chef from Hyderabad to recreate the dinners of the Nizams. This is not an iftar buffet, but a dinner buffet. An invite to any royal food festival is exciting, but during Ramadan, festival like the Nizami past are more exciting. It gives us a chance to sample Ramadan food from around the country.

And the first thing he seems to have re-created is the Raan. Literally a lamb leg piece, which colloquially is a funny phrase, the first dish served on the plate was a stunner. Succulent and flavourful with spices adding depths of flavour without overpowering the natural flavour of the mutton, this one dish was enough to make dinner great. There were other starters, a nice but not-juicy sheekh kebab, an excellent chicken kebab and two wonderful vegetarian dishes, a cheesy grilled cauliflower and a soft vegetarian kebab, but the Raan was too good to miss and fill up the tummy with others.

But nothing prepared me for the biriyani. Kacche ki Gosht biriyani. First of all, I was surprised to see it on the menu. A kacche gosht biriyani style I thought is a dying art. The amount of patience that it requires is humongous and the training involved in making good ones is mediocre. So much so that some articles suggested that there were only a handful of those khansamas alive in Hyderabad. I believe it is being replaced by more mediocre techniques. That is why I was surprised to see it on the menu. Why is this so difficult? This type of biriyani technique uses raw meat over long grain rice and is cooked till the meat is, well, cooked. Cooking raw meat over rice is not an easy technique, so rarely do hotels make this form of biriyani. The outcome was a biriyani with a lot more flavour than ones from most hotels. Well cooked mutton and the flavours of slow cooking seeping in resulted in a lovely biriyani. A good brinjal side dish completed the dish.

The haleem though was a disappointment. It was partially cooked and finished off in the stove, something that was a turn off even before eating, and tasting it only confirmed the worst. The biriyani more than made up for the terrible haleem
The sweets of the festival were a mixed bag. The Qubani Meeta is something that should be left to the classics, especially in a festival like this. An alien flavour spoilt what would have been an otherwise very good dish. A little probing revealed that it was flavoured with Roohafsa, a rose flavoured syrup used extensively in the region. That ended up making the dish a little too sweet, even for someone like me with a sweet tooth. The double ka meeta and payasams were good enough to finish a meal with an awesome biriyani.
This festival is all about the biriyani and the raan. The menu changes everyday so I hope you get these when you visit. Fingers crossed! The festival is on till the 25th of June! 

via Blogger http://ift.tt/2tj95YI

Chennai, Eating out, Food Festivals, Hyderabaid, Indian, Nizam, Ramadan, Ramzan Specials, South Indian

The Nizami Ramadan Repast

The search of haleem continues and the disappointments continue. Luckily sometimes the rest of the food makes up, or in this case more than makes up for the haleem. Hyatt has flown in a chef from Hyderabad to recreate the dinners of the Nizams. This is not an iftar buffet, but a dinner buffet. An invite to any royal food festival is exciting, but during Ramadan, festival like the Nizami past are more exciting. It gives us a chance to sample Ramadan food from around the country.

And the first thing he seems to have re-created is the Raan. Literally a lamb leg piece, which colloquially is a funny phrase, the first dish served on the plate was a stunner. Succulent and flavourful with spices adding depths of flavour without overpowering the natural flavour of the mutton, this one dish was enough to make dinner great. There were other starters, a nice but not-juicy sheekh kebab, an excellent chicken kebab and two wonderful vegetarian dishes, a cheesy grilled cauliflower and a soft vegetarian kebab, but the Raan was too good to miss and fill up the tummy with others.

But nothing prepared me for the biriyani. Kacche ki Gosht biriyani. First of all, I was surprised to see it on the menu. A kacche gosht biriyani style I thought is a dying art. The amount of patience that it requires is humongous and the training involved in making good ones is mediocre. So much so that some articles suggested that there were only a handful of those khansamas alive in Hyderabad. I believe it is being replaced by more mediocre techniques. That is why I was surprised to see it on the menu. Why is this so difficult? This type of biriyani technique uses raw meat over long grain rice and is cooked till the meat is, well, cooked. Cooking raw meat over rice is not an easy technique, so rarely do hotels make this form of biriyani. The outcome was a biriyani with a lot more flavour than ones from most hotels. Well cooked mutton and the flavours of slow cooking seeping in resulted in a lovely biriyani. A good brinjal side dish completed the dish.

The haleem though was a disappointment. It was partially cooked and finished off in the stove, something that was a turn off even before eating, and tasting it only confirmed the worst. The biriyani more than made up for the terrible haleem
The sweets of the festival were a mixed bag. The Qubani Meeta is something that should be left to the classics, especially in a festival like this. An alien flavour spoilt what would have been an otherwise very good dish. A little probing revealed that it was flavoured with Roohafsa, a rose flavoured syrup used extensively in the region. That ended up making the dish a little too sweet, even for someone like me with a sweet tooth. The double ka meeta and payasams were good enough to finish a meal with an awesome biriyani.
This festival is all about the biriyani and the raan. The menu changes everyday so I hope you get these when you visit. Fingers crossed! The festival is on till the 25th of June! 

via Blogger http://ift.tt/2tj95YI

Chennai, Eating out, Food Festivals, Hyderabaid, Indian, Nizam, Ramadan, Ramzan Specials, South Indian

The Nizami Ramadan Repast

The search of haleem continues and the disappointments continue. Luckily sometimes the rest of the food makes up, or in this case more than makes up for the haleem. Hyatt has flown in a chef from Hyderabad to recreate the dinners of the Nizams. This is not an iftar buffet, but a dinner buffet. An invite to any royal food festival is exciting, but during Ramadan, festival like the Nizami past are more exciting. It gives us a chance to sample Ramadan food from around the country.

And the first thing he seems to have re-created is the Raan. Literally a lamb leg piece, which colloquially is a funny phrase, the first dish served on the plate was a stunner. Succulent and flavourful with spices adding depths of flavour without overpowering the natural flavour of the mutton, this one dish was enough to make dinner great. There were other starters, a nice but not-juicy sheekh kebab, an excellent chicken kebab and two wonderful vegetarian dishes, a cheesy grilled cauliflower and a soft vegetarian kebab, but the Raan was too good to miss and fill up the tummy with others.

But nothing prepared me for the biriyani. Kacche ki Gosht biriyani. First of all, I was surprised to see it on the menu. A kacche gosht biriyani style I thought is a dying art. The amount of patience that it requires is humongous and the training involved in making good ones is mediocre. So much so that some articles suggested that there were only a handful of those khansamas alive in Hyderabad. I believe it is being replaced by more mediocre techniques. That is why I was surprised to see it on the menu. Why is this so difficult? This type of biriyani technique uses raw meat over long grain rice and is cooked till the meat is, well, cooked. Cooking raw meat over rice is not an easy technique, so rarely do hotels make this form of biriyani. The outcome was a biriyani with a lot more flavour than ones from most hotels. Well cooked mutton and the flavours of slow cooking seeping in resulted in a lovely biriyani. A good brinjal side dish completed the dish.

The haleem though was a disappointment. It was partially cooked and finished off in the stove, something that was a turn off even before eating, and tasting it only confirmed the worst. The biriyani more than made up for the terrible haleem
The sweets of the festival were a mixed bag. The Qubani Meeta is something that should be left to the classics, especially in a festival like this. An alien flavour spoilt what would have been an otherwise very good dish. A little probing revealed that it was flavoured with Roohafsa, a rose flavoured syrup used extensively in the region. That ended up making the dish a little too sweet, even for someone like me with a sweet tooth. The double ka meeta and payasams were good enough to finish a meal with an awesome biriyani.
This festival is all about the biriyani and the raan. The menu changes everyday so I hope you get these when you visit. Fingers crossed! The festival is on till the 25th of June! 

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Chennai, Eating out, Food Festivals, Indian, Kitchens of India, South Indian

Tulu Nadu chefs arrive at Chola Dynasty

If there is one food promotion that I keep waiting for (and hope to get invited AND be in town when that happens) is the Kitchens of India series at ITC Grand Chola. There is always an element of surprise, the food is generally brilliant and well researched and there is so much to learn from. It brings about, through food, both the similarities and the diversities in India. When the call came for an invite, I asked which kitchen they’ve gone and trained this time! Apparently there is something called Tulu Nadu.

Nestled between the north part of Kerala and southwest part of Karnataka, Tulu Nadu as I have learnt over the past few days has a glorious history. The erstwhile South Canara as it was called earlier is even vying, if reports are to be believed, to be a separate state. With a dynastic past, the food is only expected to be brilliant. Knowing the amount of research ITC chefs put in for these Kitchens of India Festivals, I think I can trust them enough to recreate the food as accurately as possible! I have no prior knowledge or experience with the flavours or Tulu, so this is purely based on what we ate, which, I’ll give you the spoiler, was excellent.

For a cuisine that is a sort of a fuse between Mangalorean, Coorgi and Kerala, it seems to have a lot of uniqueness. While the spiced chilled buttermilk and the Banana Bairada Juice, a nice concoction of coconut and ripe banana were a nice way to start the meal, the food was surprisingly distinct in its flavours. Meal started with another liquid, The Bele Saaru. A sort of rasam with cumin, the warm soup served in a glass kick started dinner. The first dish, though, set the tone for what to expect for the rest of dinner. Called the Natia Kori, the mildly spicy but richly flavoured chicken was rather distinct with the flavours of the two states blending to create a brand new flavour. The dish was hard to stop eating and the prospect of filling up the tummy and not having space to sample more awesome dishes was the only incentive to stop. The Errai da meen (though sounds like a French dish) that arrived next was supremely similar, but beautifully adapted for the fish. Similarly spiced like the chicken but mild enough to let the flavours of the fish take the front seat, this dish is a fish lover’s dream. For someone for whom fish is not, well, the first choice of meat, I rather enjoyed it. Though the fishy flavours were clear, the mild chilly was just perfect to minimise the fish flavour from being overpowering. Instead of flavouring the fish, the marinade simply took of the nasty fish smell while retaining the best part of the fishy flavours.

The main course, served for us in a banana leaf, had the best of magical flavours. The pineapple gojju, with its beautiful tartness playing perfect match for the rice could have easily been the dish of the day, but Yetti Sukka, a brilliant preparation of prawns with dry coconut and almost completely dry paired with the thin and light Neer Dosai was hard to beat. Or so I thought, before Kori Gassi – Kori Rotti arrived. A sort of rice roti was soaked in a Mangalorean chicken gravy. That is the dish I am craving as I write this piece as the soft bread that soaked up all the creaminess and flavours of the chicken gravy left me craving for more. I would have liked another roti to simply dip and eat, but I was told that the dish is as good only when soaked for longer. A beautiful fish gravy (again for a non fish lover, it was lovely) with a nice thick tomato-ish consistency paired well with rice. A rich Mamsam Biriyani completed the already rich meal. A payasam along with Ragi Manni, a rich ragi fudge cake completed the dessert course!

Served as part of the Madras Pavilion buffet, the festival is on till the 25th of June! Service was quick, but we were a bunch of invited guests, so I can’t really comment on service. I am now looking forward to the next Kitchens of India festival already. What will the theme be? Are we going to find exotic cuisines from North India? Will a new state emerge from it? Only time will tell!

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5 Star, Chennai, Dessert, Eating out, Food Festivals, Indian, Indonesian, North Indian, Street Food

From the street to the 5 star hotel

Street food is meant to be eaten on the street. No amount of five star intervention has traditionally added anything more to street food. If anything, it has only diluted it. Some say that the sweat plays a role in the flavour. I hope I never find out if that is true, though. Some say that the heat and the air play roles in the flavours of the street. Some say that it is all of the above and more put together.

Every once in a while though, street food gets a good variation. Not better or worse, but a good variation. The ongoing street food festival at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt hotel, is one such. While it is a part of their usual excellent buffet, there is enough from the street food counters that you could give the regular buffet (except dessert of course) a miss.

One of the tough foods to give a fancy make over is the vada pav and the pav bhaji. The chefs here gave the former a beautiful makeover and the latter a not so good one. The vada pav here with a nice potato patty was served with a fried chilly inside. With super soft buns and a nice tangy potato inside, this was a good makeover to the usually humble vada pav. The pav bhaji, though served with the same nice pav simply didn’t match the vada pav.  At the end of the first counter, scores were tied and it was Street Food 1, 5 star 1. The chilly not being super spicy helped!

Then came the variation. A keema vada pav. No, not keema pav, but a keema vada pav. Or should we call it a Shami pav? Unlike the keema pav which comes with keema instead of a bhaji, this was a mutton cutlet stuffed inside the buns and served with the chilly on the side. I stuffed the chilly inside the bun and burnt my tongue. I guess no two chillies are the same, since the first one was not hot and this one was burning every cell of my digestive system. The kebab inside though was beautifully flavoured and I took another piece and took my chance with another chilly. They were made for each other, this time. See? You only need to find the right chilly in your life! 😉

Then we came to the Laksa counter. An Indonesian Laksa, the pet food counter of the exec chef Teku. There was no blachaang in the laksa, but he was able to bring out beautiful flavours in Laksa without it. Yes, the coconut milk seemed a little thicker, but this was a richer laksa. No blachaang, so street food wins. SF: 2, 5S: 1. There was the momo stall next to the Laksa. Variations of momos, but the one that stood out was the pan fried momo. No street food momo (at least in South India) I believe can match the flavour of this pan fried momo that has Asian flavours and succulent meat inside the juicy flour! 5star made up and the score is now 2:2

It came down to dessert. There was only one sweet counter. That day, it was the banana pancake. It looked like it was straight out of the streets of Bangkok, but I wasn’t going to make any judgements till I ate one. We watched as a chef behind the counter carefully stretched out the dough and heated it in the tawa. He sliced bananas and added all the condiments. Once folded, he dressed it with various sauces and placed a dollop of ice cream and handed it to us. I took one without the ice cream. Yes, it was nice, yes, it was flavourful, but no, it didn’t match the banana pancakes you get in Thailand! So, it was street food 3, 5 star 2.

Dessert from their regular buffet was as excellent as usual and it complemented the meal well. While there were only four counters for street food (and the cuisine changes every day, so maybe some day there will be a Doner or a Wurst stall), but if you have two helpings from each stall, it can fill you up. There is always the rest of the buffet if you need more to fill you!

The festival is on till the end of May and is priced along with the buffet at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt. 

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5 Star, Chennai, Dessert, Eating out, Food Festivals, Indian, Indonesian, North Indian, Street Food

From the street to the 5 star hotel

Street food is meant to be eaten on the street. No amount of five star intervention has traditionally added anything more to street food. If anything, it has only diluted it. Some say that the sweat plays a role in the flavour. I hope I never find out if that is true, though. Some say that the heat and the air play roles in the flavours of the street. Some say that it is all of the above and more put together.

Every once in a while though, street food gets a good variation. Not better or worse, but a good variation. The ongoing street food festival at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt hotel, is one such. While it is a part of their usual excellent buffet, there is enough from the street food counters that you could give the regular buffet (except dessert of course) a miss.

One of the tough foods to give a fancy make over is the vada pav and the pav bhaji. The chefs here gave the former a beautiful makeover and the latter a not so good one. The vada pav here with a nice potato patty was served with a fried chilly inside. With super soft buns and a nice tangy potato inside, this was a good makeover to the usually humble vada pav. The pav bhaji, though served with the same nice pav simply didn’t match the vada pav.  At the end of the first counter, scores were tied and it was Street Food 1, 5 star 1. The chilly not being super spicy helped!

Then came the variation. A keema vada pav. No, not keema pav, but a keema vada pav. Or should we call it a Shami pav? Unlike the keema pav which comes with keema instead of a bhaji, this was a mutton cutlet stuffed inside the buns and served with the chilly on the side. I stuffed the chilly inside the bun and burnt my tongue. I guess no two chillies are the same, since the first one was not hot and this one was burning every cell of my digestive system. The kebab inside though was beautifully flavoured and I took another piece and took my chance with another chilly. They were made for each other, this time. See? You only need to find the right chilly in your life! 😉

Then we came to the Laksa counter. An Indonesian Laksa, the pet food counter of the exec chef Teku. There was no blachaang in the laksa, but he was able to bring out beautiful flavours in Laksa without it. Yes, the coconut milk seemed a little thicker, but this was a richer laksa. No blachaang, so street food wins. SF: 2, 5S: 1. There was the momo stall next to the Laksa. Variations of momos, but the one that stood out was the pan fried momo. No street food momo (at least in South India) I believe can match the flavour of this pan fried momo that has Asian flavours and succulent meat inside the juicy flour! 5star made up and the score is now 2:2

It came down to dessert. There was only one sweet counter. That day, it was the banana pancake. It looked like it was straight out of the streets of Bangkok, but I wasn’t going to make any judgements till I ate one. We watched as a chef behind the counter carefully stretched out the dough and heated it in the tawa. He sliced bananas and added all the condiments. Once folded, he dressed it with various sauces and placed a dollop of ice cream and handed it to us. I took one without the ice cream. Yes, it was nice, yes, it was flavourful, but no, it didn’t match the banana pancakes you get in Thailand! So, it was street food 3, 5 star 2.

Dessert from their regular buffet was as excellent as usual and it complemented the meal well. While there were only four counters for street food (and the cuisine changes every day, so maybe some day there will be a Doner or a Wurst stall), but if you have two helpings from each stall, it can fill you up. There is always the rest of the buffet if you need more to fill you!

The festival is on till the end of May and is priced along with the buffet at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt. 

via Blogger http://ift.tt/2sa2sXW

5 Star, Chennai, Dessert, Eating out, Food Festivals, Indian, Indonesian, North Indian, Street Food

From the street to the 5 star hotel

Street food is meant to be eaten on the street. No amount of five star intervention has traditionally added anything more to street food. If anything, it has only diluted it. Some say that the sweat plays a role in the flavour. I hope I never find out if that is true, though. Some say that the heat and the air play roles in the flavours of the street. Some say that it is all of the above and more put together.

Every once in a while though, street food gets a good variation. Not better or worse, but a good variation. The ongoing street food festival at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt hotel, is one such. While it is a part of their usual excellent buffet, there is enough from the street food counters that you could give the regular buffet (except dessert of course) a miss.

One of the tough foods to give a fancy make over is the vada pav and the pav bhaji. The chefs here gave the former a beautiful makeover and the latter a not so good one. The vada pav here with a nice potato patty was served with a fried chilly inside. With super soft buns and a nice tangy potato inside, this was a good makeover to the usually humble vada pav. The pav bhaji, though served with the same nice pav simply didn’t match the vada pav.  At the end of the first counter, scores were tied and it was Street Food 1, 5 star 1. The chilly not being super spicy helped!

Then came the variation. A keema vada pav. No, not keema pav, but a keema vada pav. Or should we call it a Shami pav? Unlike the keema pav which comes with keema instead of a bhaji, this was a mutton cutlet stuffed inside the buns and served with the chilly on the side. I stuffed the chilly inside the bun and burnt my tongue. I guess no two chillies are the same, since the first one was not hot and this one was burning every cell of my digestive system. The kebab inside though was beautifully flavoured and I took another piece and took my chance with another chilly. They were made for each other, this time. See? You only need to find the right chilly in your life! 😉

Then we came to the Laksa counter. An Indonesian Laksa, the pet food counter of the exec chef Teku. There was no blachaang in the laksa, but he was able to bring out beautiful flavours in Laksa without it. Yes, the coconut milk seemed a little thicker, but this was a richer laksa. No blachaang, so street food wins. SF: 2, 5S: 1. There was the momo stall next to the Laksa. Variations of momos, but the one that stood out was the pan fried momo. No street food momo (at least in South India) I believe can match the flavour of this pan fried momo that has Asian flavours and succulent meat inside the juicy flour! 5star made up and the score is now 2:2

It came down to dessert. There was only one sweet counter. That day, it was the banana pancake. It looked like it was straight out of the streets of Bangkok, but I wasn’t going to make any judgements till I ate one. We watched as a chef behind the counter carefully stretched out the dough and heated it in the tawa. He sliced bananas and added all the condiments. Once folded, he dressed it with various sauces and placed a dollop of ice cream and handed it to us. I took one without the ice cream. Yes, it was nice, yes, it was flavourful, but no, it didn’t match the banana pancakes you get in Thailand! So, it was street food 3, 5 star 2.

Dessert from their regular buffet was as excellent as usual and it complemented the meal well. While there were only four counters for street food (and the cuisine changes every day, so maybe some day there will be a Doner or a Wurst stall), but if you have two helpings from each stall, it can fill you up. There is always the rest of the buffet if you need more to fill you!

The festival is on till the end of May and is priced along with the buffet at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt. 

via Blogger http://ift.tt/2sa2sXW

5 Star, Chennai, Dessert, Eating out, Food Festivals, Indian, Indonesian, North Indian, Street Food

From the street to the 5 star hotel

Street food is meant to be eaten on the street. No amount of five star intervention has traditionally added anything more to street food. If anything, it has only diluted it. Some say that the sweat plays a role in the flavour. I hope I never find out if that is true, though. Some say that the heat and the air play roles in the flavours of the street. Some say that it is all of the above and more put together.

Every once in a while though, street food gets a good variation. Not better or worse, but a good variation. The ongoing street food festival at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt hotel, is one such. While it is a part of their usual excellent buffet, there is enough from the street food counters that you could give the regular buffet (except dessert of course) a miss.

One of the tough foods to give a fancy make over is the vada pav and the pav bhaji. The chefs here gave the former a beautiful makeover and the latter a not so good one. The vada pav here with a nice potato patty was served with a fried chilly inside. With super soft buns and a nice tangy potato inside, this was a good makeover to the usually humble vada pav. The pav bhaji, though served with the same nice pav simply didn’t match the vada pav.  At the end of the first counter, scores were tied and it was Street Food 1, 5 star 1. The chilly not being super spicy helped!

Then came the variation. A keema vada pav. No, not keema pav, but a keema vada pav. Or should we call it a Shami pav? Unlike the keema pav which comes with keema instead of a bhaji, this was a mutton cutlet stuffed inside the buns and served with the chilly on the side. I stuffed the chilly inside the bun and burnt my tongue. I guess no two chillies are the same, since the first one was not hot and this one was burning every cell of my digestive system. The kebab inside though was beautifully flavoured and I took another piece and took my chance with another chilly. They were made for each other, this time. See? You only need to find the right chilly in your life! 😉

Then we came to the Laksa counter. An Indonesian Laksa, the pet food counter of the exec chef Teku. There was no blachaang in the laksa, but he was able to bring out beautiful flavours in Laksa without it. Yes, the coconut milk seemed a little thicker, but this was a richer laksa. No blachaang, so street food wins. SF: 2, 5S: 1. There was the momo stall next to the Laksa. Variations of momos, but the one that stood out was the pan fried momo. No street food momo (at least in South India) I believe can match the flavour of this pan fried momo that has Asian flavours and succulent meat inside the juicy flour! 5star made up and the score is now 2:2

It came down to dessert. There was only one sweet counter. That day, it was the banana pancake. It looked like it was straight out of the streets of Bangkok, but I wasn’t going to make any judgements till I ate one. We watched as a chef behind the counter carefully stretched out the dough and heated it in the tawa. He sliced bananas and added all the condiments. Once folded, he dressed it with various sauces and placed a dollop of ice cream and handed it to us. I took one without the ice cream. Yes, it was nice, yes, it was flavourful, but no, it didn’t match the banana pancakes you get in Thailand! So, it was street food 3, 5 star 2.

Dessert from their regular buffet was as excellent as usual and it complemented the meal well. While there were only four counters for street food (and the cuisine changes every day, so maybe some day there will be a Doner or a Wurst stall), but if you have two helpings from each stall, it can fill you up. There is always the rest of the buffet if you need more to fill you!

The festival is on till the end of May and is priced along with the buffet at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt. 

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