There are food festivals and there are food festivals. This one’s the latter. The culinary team at Sheraton Grand (erstwhile Sheraton Bangalore Brigade Gateway) have raised the bar for what a food festival is all about. Focussing on the strong peppery flavours of the Chettinad cuisine, Chef Marty and Chef Sabari travelled into the heart of the region to discover flavours and recipes to put up an authentic chettinad food festival at Feast.
The big difference, besides the fabulous flavours of almost every dish, is the spread of the festival that seems to be almost double of what was on offer during previous festivals. A lot more effort has gone into decorating the restaurant with spices, curry powders, ceramic dolls and more to give one a chettinad feel. Another big difference was the equal proportion of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes that kept both camps happy.
I kicked off the festival with a fabulous crab soup. If ever there was a way to set the pace for the barrage of strong flavours I was going to experience for the rest of the evening, that crab soup was it. Strong on pepper, with a mild helping of spices with really soft crab portions, the soup instantly hits your throat. Some might find the taste of the pepper overwhelming, but I completely enjoyed the flavour. There were quite a few appetizers, each with their own unique flavours served. The Kozhi Kal Chops (chicken leg chop) was another dish strong on pepper and spices with the chicken just coming off the bone very easily. There was also the Nethli Fry, a fish appetizer that missed the mark in my book in terms of really displaying some strong spice. A variety of knick knacks for the vegetarians were excellent too including a masala vada, appam with tomato chutney, dosa and mini-addai (a dosa variant cooked with six types of lentils).
|Kozhi Kal Chops|
|Masala Vada and Fried Pepper Mushroom|
For the main course, there was a chicken and a mutton dish. While the mutton kurma offered no new tastes as such, the chicken in the pepper gravy was a home run. Loaded with spice and pepper, the chicken dish was cooked brilliantly. The meat was tender and cooked evenly across every piece. What did work for me was the gravy. One bite in and the typical-pepper flavour of chettinad food over-whelmed my taste buds and the aroma even crept into my nose. This gravy was an excellent complement for the mutton biryani which despite looking full of flavour was relatively bland. The buffet also offered a brinjal rice and a veg pulao, both off which gave off wonderful aromas of spice when I walked by.
|Chicken in Pepper Sauce|
I didn’t try out too many of the vegetarian section as most of the dishes were very familiar. One dish among all caught my eye and I was delighted that it tasted even better than it looked. The Beetroot Kolavurndai, a beetroot dumpling cooked in coconut gravy offered a very unique taste. On the sweeter side owing to the sweetness of the beetroot and coconut, this dish provided much relief in terms of flavour. The texture of the dumpling was soft and while the outer layer had absorbed a lot of the coconut taste, the inside still retained the sweetness of beetroot. This is another example of how vegetarian food can be tasty and inventive too.
For the dessert, I took a small helping of the halwa which was average. The second dessert, the Eleneer Payasam (coconut kheer) was light, not too sweet and acted as a nice cleanser to the end of a meal driven by punches of pepper and spice.
In all honesty, this has been the best food festival at the Sheraton Grand that I have been too. There is clearly a lot more work that has gone into the dishes and the overall theme. This would be the new benchmark for all following festivals at Feast.