Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Chettinad Food Festival @ The Swissotel Neotia Vista, Kolkata

This was not just another food festival..This was the Chettinad Food Festival @ The Swissotel Neotia Vista, Kolkata and I found myself salivating from the moment I received an invitation from Enakshi - the vivacious marketing manager who spoils us silly with great food everytime.However I will be honest here,not that I am some connoisseur of the cuisine but of late there were a lot of discussions on the cuisine that amped up the cravings. Chef Ashwin. S has flown down from Chennai to give us Kolkatans a taste of authentic Chettinad food. The KFB Table members were invited to sample a preview lunch and what a delicious meal it was. To top it all the weather god played perfect host and on a rainy Thursday afternoon my fellow blogger Priyadarshini and I stuffed ourselves silly.
Now for the uninitiated, this cuisine finds its roots in the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu. The Chettiar community,who are a majority of this region are a very successful trading community so that kind of explains the extensive use of meat and fish in this cuisine.It is one of the spiciest and aromatic cuisine of India,famous for its use of variety of spices. Hot and pungent dishes prepared with freshly ground masalas is what makes the robust non vegetarian dishes - that's where all the focus is! The vegetarians need not despair though. Contrary to popular belief we were also served an array of lip smacking veg dishes. After a quick chat with Chef Ashwin who told me when asked that the one uncommon spice used here is the inner bark of the cinnamon tree - we were all set for our gastronomical journey of the day! All this while an assorted platter of chutneys and crisp poppadoms were calling out to me and I couldn't wait any longer!

 I immediate thought on devouring those chutneys was if this was so yumm I could only imagine what was coming my way. We began our meal with an assortment of starters  - Aachi Varuvaj ( Deep fried cauliflower florets) Paniyarams , Kozhi Varuval (Deep fried chicken with spices0, Lamb chukkha (Spicy spring lamb). For me the lamb chukkha did it! It was out of the world - soft and tender meat coated with chettinad spices, left me craving for more. 
 The main course dishes started flowing in - we started with some Kalkari Kurma (seasonal vegetables cooked in cahewnut/coconut gravy) and Sutta Kathrika Thokku ( a traditional dish made with brinjal). the brinjal lover me couldn't help but take a second helping of it. Tangy and spicy - it went very well with Kal Dosai. And then the star dish arrived - Kotthu Paratha (parathas minced along with chicken and eggs) I could go on eating it but stopped myself. There was the quintessential Chicken Chettinad , Meen Kozhambu and Yara Manga Charu ( prawns cooked with raw mango) I missed eating iddiapams however. They have it in their special chettinad menu and I will be going back again soon for that.

By now I was stuffed up my nose! For dessert we were served Elaneer Payasam ( made with coconut milk) and Sakkari Pongal  ( Rice and jaggery). We were joined in by Mr. Marco Saxer, GM of Swissotel Kolkata Neotia Vista and Aashish ( the restarurant manager) who ensured we are looked after very well. We were also given a little packet of special chettinad masala as a parting gift that I will be using very soon. It was a gastronomical experience that I shall remember for a long long time. The festival is on till the 30th of July - so people RUSH!

The delectable fare is available only at Durbari, level 2, Swissotel from 1900 hrs to 2300 hrs ( Tue to Sunday) and 1230 hrs to1530 hrs (Friday to Sunday).

You can place reservations through email to durbari.kolkata@swissotel.com,or by phone at +91 33 66266666


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