Friday, February 14, 2014

Singapore Peranakan Food Festival @ Swissotel Kolkata

Ok. So I will begin with a confession here. When I got an invite from Swissotel Kolkata through KFB to try out their Singapore Peranakan Food Festival I was at a loss. I was at a loss because I had no prior initiation to Peranakan food. I was clueless, so I googled! But the information that Wiki provided was too theoretical for my understanding. So I told myself that I will let this be a learning experience for me and gained confidence to attend the festival and gather knowledge from the connoisseurs themselves - the chefs - who were flown in from Singapore's Merchant Court Hotel.And after last nights dinner I can proudly say that my understanding of this cuisine is now kind of up to the mark!

Kamalika of Silence Sings & myself had a wonderful time chatting up with Chef Abdul Halim Bin Ahmed and Chef Jasper. They took all the trouble to very patiently answer all our queries and sharing with us little trivia about the cuisine too! Perankan cuisine is a kind of an amalgamation of Chinese and Malay food culture. The taste being milder that what you would find in traditional Singaporean dishes. The five often ingredients used being Garlic/Shallots/Chili/Galangal/Lemongrass.Now one would think that there is a lot of Thai influence here but that's not the case as Pernakan cuisine doesn't depend heavily on the use of  sauces but lets fresh produce cook in its own juices much like the way our grand moms would cook! 

The dishes rustled up for the festival were superb to say the least. The spread totally lip smacking! Not spice rich but still full of flavours was the highlight of the dishes.

There were many dishes to choose from both veg and non veg and I somehow found myself drawn towards the vegetarian dishes.The Urap Taugeh (sprouts salad with grounded peanut powder) was something I thoroughly enjoyed. Moving on to the main course the Veg Nasi Goreng ,Nyonya Chaap Chye ( Rice noodles cooked with cabbage, carrots and woodear mushrooms) was full of natural flavours.

Babi Pongteh
The non -veg counter had a wide array of dishes to choose from but the star of the            evening was Babi Pongteh - a very traditional Nyonya dish ( Succulent pork belly braised in a soy based broth )It was the chef's pick too when asked which dish he would personally recommend! Apart from this delicious dish there were the usual suspects like Beef Rendang and Laksa. 

My favourite was the Oatmeal prawns ( large sized prawns cooked with oatmeal and spring onions and also had a hint of pepper ). This was surely an innovation and very delicious too! The Ayam Buah Keluak ( Chicken curry Peranakan style) reminded me more of the Murgir'r jhol that we Bengali's devour and went well with steamed rice.

Prawn Oatmeal/Ayam Buah Keluak
Next I hit the dessert counter and I was happy! Apart from two traditional Peranakan sweet dish - the one being the famous Bubur Cha Cha (porridge made with sweet coconut milk with chunks of sweet potato and candied fruits being cooked with palm sugar) the counter was loaded with sweet goodies from around the world. That Rasgulla like dessert below is an authentic peranakan dessert made from glutinous rice filled with palm sugar and simmered in sugar syrup! Chef Jasper had a trivia to share on this one where every year on Dec 22 every household in Singapore prepares this dessert and you eat as many  as old you are!! I however stopped at one!
Pic Courtesy Silence Sings

Take a look at the dessert counter below!

The Strawberry Green Apple Mousse , Strawberry Streusel , Sacher Torte , Macaroons   Tiramisu , and our very own Ras Malai was so so delicious." Swissotel " take a bow!
Well that was the end to an excellent evening filled with good food and great coversations! Thanks to Enakshi and Maaya for making us a part of this evening and we look forward to more such gastronomically enriching experiences. Before I go sharing a pic of yours truly with the two very talented gentlemen who came all the way from Singapore to give us a taste of Peranakan Cusine right here in Kolkata.

Pic courtesy Silence Sings

Disclaimer - This was an invited review and no compensation monetary or otherwise was involved.

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