Yummy Kannada cuisine at Dakshin food fest

November 2nd, 2009 - 10:07 am ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Nov 2 (IANS) How about some Popai Bhaji, a Mangalorean curry masala made with raw papaya and greens, or Halwa Fugad, a spicy pomfret dish, or maybe, Rasayana - a broth made of tomato and pepper. Welcome to Kanara Jevan, a food festival of traditional Kannada cuisine, at Dakshin restaurants across India.
The 11-day food festival, which began Thursday, is being held at Dakshin restaurants in ITC Hotels in six cities - Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Mumbai and Visakhapatnam.

Kanara Jevan is a collection of yummy and homely dishes with ethnic flavour from Mangalore, Malnad, Udupi, Kodugu and North Karnataka.

The idea behind the food festival came from a very old cook book that had authentic recipes for traditional Kannada dishes made with common ingredients found in every home, said I. Sekar, junior sous chef at Dakshin restaurant in Sheraton Park Hotel & Towers here.

“A friend of mine gave me a very old cookery book. It must have been printed during the British times going by its looks as well as the ingredient measures printed in it,” Sekar told IANS.

After checking with other chef friends, they came up with a 16-item menu card for the food festival.

“The spices used are simple and the use of oil is very minimal, making the dishes light on the stomach,” Sekar said.

According to him, the Mangalorean genre is usually spicy with rice as staple and coconut oil being the cooking medium.

“Malnad cuisine is a fusion of Kodava and Mangalorean fare, while Udupi cuisine, which derives its name from the town on the west coast of Karnataka, is a strict vegetarian fare. The Kodagu cuisine of the Coorgi community is diametrically opposite with its spicy meat preparations like Pandi curry, chicken and mutton.”

Despite the commonality of ingredients, the different masalas lend a unique taste to each dish.

For vegetarians and non-vegetarians, the Kanara Jevan feast offers a variety of choice.

But what will be surely of interest to the people of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh is Popai Bhaji, a Mangalorean curry masala made with raw papaya and greens. Raw papaya is not commonly used in these two states.

For starters, there is Rasayana, a broth made of tomato and pepper.

With rice or appam or idiappam as the main item, there is a whole lot of interesting side dishes like the Vaingem Curry (Brinjal cooked in tangy coconut gravy flavoured with mustard and plums), Mogem Kultakat (combination of horse gram and seasonal vegetables tempered in chilly and garlic masala) and Drumstick Kaju Curry (drumstick and cashew in a coconut-based curry).

The non-vegetarians should not miss the Halwa Fugad - whole pomfret coated with Mangalorean masala, wrapped in banana leaf, cooked on tawa, and Sunkat Methi Bhaji, fresh methi and prawns simmered in onion coconut gravy.

“The masala for Halwa Fugad is first cooked and then applied on the fish for marination. The fish is wrapped in banana leaf and cooked again,” Sekar said.

For chicken and mutton lovers, there is Kombo Suko, chicken roasted in coconut masala; Murgi Chop, chicken cooked in poppy seeds, onion and coriander masala and finished with thick coconut milk; Khara Ghos, a dry preparation of lamb cubes with ginger, garlic paste and fresh coriander; and Poppos Mutton Hot Curry, mutton and brinjal cooked in a tangy gravy.

For people with the sweet tooth there is Kuvanpeet, arrowroot and nutmeg steam pudding; Kaju Patholeo, mixture of cashew, rice and jaggery steamed in banana leaf; and Mandas, oven baked batter of rice, jaggery and coconut.

Hotel spokesperson Prathima Vasan said the festival is on till Nov 8.

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