South Indian Food Festival at Park Plaza

By: Rajdeep Bhattacharjee

March 4, 2016

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You must be elated if you ever get an invitation to attend a food festival. Moreover, if it’s a South Indian food festival, no doubt you will be getting really delicious and mouth watering foods to taste. The same thing happened a few days back when the Park Plaza arranged for a south Indian Food Festival in the heart of Kolkata. This amazing event started from 26th February and is going to run till 6th March at Park Plaza.

 

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This food festival is all about the perfect melange of gastronomical delight with a plethora of Southern flavours. Two Masters of South Indian gastronomy from Chennai and Hyderabad: Arokia Das and Janarthanam has brought to live the unforgettable and eternal flavours of South India. The vast array of lip-smacking South Indian dishes will be accompanied by classic carnatic instrumentals and an inviting ethnic ambience.

 

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The Spread

 

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Embark the exotic culinary tour with two masters of South Indian cuisine Arokia Das and Janarthanam. Authentic flavours of Five states – Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu,Karnataka and Chettinad cuisines were the main attraction of this South Indian food festival.

 

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In starters take your pick from scrumptious Pazha Dosa (Banana pan cake), Masala Vadai (Lentil patties deep fried ), Kola Urundai (Deep fried mutton mince dumplings) and Kohzi Varuval (Shallow fried chicken).

 

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The main course section was as delicious as the starter section. Items in the main course area included south Indian dishes like Kavipoo Kadalai Melegu Masala (Cauliflower with white channa pepper masala), Kathrikai Kara Kozhumbu (Traditional south India style curry with tomato base), Erachi Thengai Vatthakal (Kerala style mutton with coconut), Meen Chetti Kozhumbu (Traditional Madras style fish curry), Bread Brinji (Rice preparation with bread), Kodaimelagai Sambhar (South Indian lentil gravy with capsicum) and Rasam (Jeera flavour) and a lot more.

 

Mollycoddle your sweet tooth with Ukkarai (Kerala style moong dal with jaggery ) and Elaneer Payasam (kheer made with tender coconut).

 

Foodies pick

 

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I got invited by Candid Communication for an innovative preview of this event. Just after reaching the spot I thought its better to start with something cool and refreshing. I didn’t know how they read my mind and served me a glass of Vasantha Neer the moment I took my seat. Vasantha neer was a refreshing drink prepared by tender coconut water with mint and honey, a natural detox drink to boost your metabolism.

 

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The Karuvembu Annasi a popular south Indian style salad was an easy choice to began with – a sweet and savoury juicy pinaple chunks with curry leaf and honey dressing. Drizzle of flavourful herb and spice dust — allowed you to experience it in its true form.

 

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Next go for something classic and satisfying, the Jeera flavoured Rasam will do the trick especially if you’re looking for a mild kick. The Rasam simmered with aromatic herbs and jeera provides layers of flavour!

 

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Expect classic south Indian starters to tease your tongue like their tender and oozesome Kola Urundai (Deep fried mutton mince dumplings), classic sweet and tangy Pazha Dosa (Banana pan cake), crunchy yet melt in mouth Masala Vadai (Lentil patties deep fried ) and heart pleasing flavourful Kohzi Varuval (Shallow fried chicken). While the dishes may look it, they are actually rather gentle on the spice, which means you don’t have to rule out this place even if you’re dining with older children or the elderly — just as long as they can stomach some heat.

 

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Kola Urundai , mutton dumplings were fresh and soft enough to melt in your month. It’s juicy, tender, flavourful and everything you could ever want in a mutton dumpling. Kohzi Varuval faultlessly melted in our mouth, soft yet crisp meat and perfectly warm. Kohzi Varuval was equally pleasant as Kola Urundai; but it had addictively rich flavours that keep people coming back for more.

 

After finishing our appetizing session we love to run through Kavipoo Kadalai Melegu Masala, Kathrikai Kara Kozhumbu, Erachi Thengai Vatthakal, Meen Chetti Kozhumbu, Bread Brinji, Kodaimelagai Sambhar in main. The service was extremely quick everything looked lavishly scrumptious and staffs were very proficient .

 

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Started with masterpieces like Kavipoo Kadalai Melegu Masala, Kathrikai Kara Kozhumbu and Kodaimelagai Sambhar. Kavipoo Kadalai Melegu Masala — their version was a spice-kissed white channa pepper masala and baby corn stirred through with generous chunks of cauliflower.

 

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Another stellar main was their Kodaimelagai Sambhar, south Indian lentil gravy with capsicum, slow-cooked till tender and slicked with the aromatic spices. Surprisingly Kathrikai Kara Kozhumbu felt bit average on palate.

 

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Meen Chetti Kozhumbu – Traditional Chettinad cuisine, this fish curry was breath-taking, fresh bhetki sautéed in butter and cooked in light cococut milk gravy flavoured with Chettinad masala and tamarind. It got cooked in clay pots to embrace the more flavours. This fish tastes so awesome; it made me stay speechless for few seconds. The fish was fresh and sautéed to perfection, and the gravy was spicy and salty, this was certainly a feisty fish.

 

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Then I tried Erachi Thengai Vatthakal –boneless mutton cooked with fresh rosted coconuts, enriched with spices and butter, mutton pieces were very tender and juicy; cooked to perfection. Erachi Thengai Vatthakal was equally top-notch and mind-blowing, hats off to the chefs for making those dishes.

 

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Both plain Rice and Bread Brinji was nicely done and went well with overwhelming sides.

 

You will be hypnotized from the first whiff of the rich aromas of Erachi Thengai Vatthakal that dance across the air. This was the first time I had so authentic Erachi Thengai Vatthakal. Kerala style mutton slow cooked with rosted coconut, coconut milk, spices and healthy herbs. The well-executed fusion of flavours leads to unexpected and often delectable results.

 

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Finally its time for desserts and I saved space for the Ukkarai and Elaneer Payasam. First sip of Elaneer Payasam, and I found it amazing a super smooth kheer made with tender coconut or Elaneer, this was both drink and dessert. Yes take the bowl in your hand and sip it.

 

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Ukkarai was also remarkable, this was one dessert you should share but might not want to. Dig in and you’ll find Kerala style moong dal perfectly with jaggery. It’s slightly savoury thanks to the moong dal, and got a lovely twist to the sweet jaggery, now this is what dreams are made of.

 

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So, if you are planning to visit Park Plaza for South Indian Food Festival definitely try out their pineapple salad mixed with curry leaves. In starters, you will preferred to fill plates with Pazha Dosa, Masala Vadai, Kola Urundai, Kohzi Varuval and other mouth watering south Indian dishes. You will also find some innovative main dishes included succulent, soft and spicy fish and mutton with coconut, curry leaves and chilies.

 

Chef’s choice

 

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Master Chefs’s insisted us to try dishes like Erachi Thengai Vatthakal along with plain rice. I just loved it and said that the combination was brilliant. Another unique dish preferred by the chefs was Bread Brinji or preparation of rice mixed with bread. Chefs requested us to finished their food with Ukkarai, a mixture of moong daal and coconut and Elaneer Payasam.

 

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The chefs even gave some tips to make the food tastier like adding gun powder and ghee. The main thing the South Indian does is to cook the meal in less oil, and finally sprinkle some oil over the cooked food. This helps in retaining the flavor of the dishes. While preparing any gravy the rule is to marinate things over night so that it tastes best the next day.

 

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So, when you try Chetti Kozhumbu or Kozhi Melegu Masala at your home, make sure to keep it mixed with the masala before you go to bed. Cook it the next day and enjoy the timeless taste.

 

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Make this South Indian Food Festival a multi-generation day out, so grandparents can regale kids with south Indian food tales of yesteryear. This festival is truly a feast for the eyes and stomach, so get your appetite ready. Now you all know where to go to enjoy your weekend with south Indian delicacies!

 

Nirvana - Park Plaza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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About Rajdeep Bhattacharjee

A ravenous eater, a thirsty drinker, an enthusiastic traveller and a very sound sleeper – once a wannabe hacker and now a Government employee, is an aspiring food critic and travel blogger. He hates the loose use of the word ‘foodie’ and prefers, instead, the expression ‘food devotee’. For him, good food and honest people are the biggest motivators.

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1915940_101100699948573_1759232_nRajdeep Bhattacharjee wears many feathers in his cap. A ravenous eater, a thirsty drinker, an enthusiastic traveller and a very sound sleeper – Rajdeep, once a wannabe hacker and now a Government employee, is an aspiring food critic and travel blogger. He hates the loose use of the word 'foodie' and prefers, instead, the expression 'food devotee'. For him, good food and honest people are the biggest motivators.

He is the founder of Gourmets Travel Guide, a website devoted completely to food and travel. Rajdeep is an avid blogger and one can find many of his sojourns aptly expressed on the website www.gourmetstravelguide.com.

Rajdeep had been recently chosen by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to board the inaugural flight from Kolkata to Bangkok (TG – 336) and received accolades for wonderfully recounting the experience, from start to finish, in his blog. In fact, his travelogue was featured in Hangla Hneshel, one of India's foremost Bengali magazine dedicated completely to food and travel. Rajdeep doesn't stop there! One of his undersea walks also got featured in The Telegraph, one of India's leading dailies. He is also one of the chief curators and a selector for chefs and restaurants for Channel One's Resto Ranna episodes.

Zomato ranks Rajdeep among the top ten food connoisseurs in the city. He has also been ranked number 5 and 6, in this year's Network 18 and Burrp surveys respectively, as one of the discerning food critics in the country.

Rajdeep loves eating out at different restaurants. A true blue Bengali at heart and gut, experimenting with food and palates come naturally to him. And he doesn't mind leaving an endearing word or two for chefs who have displayed their talents on the plate and the restaurant management for the inviting ambiance of an eatery.

Rajdeep counts is as his forte the wonderful rapport he shares with different media houses. Thus his writings have already been picked up by top food journals and news dailies apart from the exposure he has to talk about them on social media. Reputation management of his clients come naturally to him be it on the virtual platform or in print.

He has been blogging for the last three years. When he is not writing on food and travel or working as a Government employee, you can most certainly catch him with a camera slung around his neck and travel gear ready to satisfy his inner wanderlust.