Grand Admiral Thrawn, one of the last of the empire’s warlords in the Star Wars universe says in the ‘Heir to the Empire’ book that the study of his enemies' artwork gives him insight into their thought processes and cultures. To me and a lot of other folks, food is art. The ability to use local spices and ingredients to create magical mouth-watering dishes is nothing short of taking a blank canvas and putting a masterpiece together. If we run with my belief that good food is art, even someone like Grand Admiral Thrawn would have been bamboozled by the spread at the’ Indian Culinary Route’ festival organized by the Bangalore Marriott Hotel Whitefield.
The festival brings together 12 chefs from 12 different Marriott properties across India, with every chef bringing with them cuisine unique to that region. This interesting showcase of the diversity of Indian culture offers dishes from various cuisines including Rajasthani, Awadhi, Hyderabadi, Chettinad, Goan, Punjabi and many more. Every chef had a little stall to themselves where they would showcase some of the prize dishes that are synonymous with the region.
|The 12 chefs from across the Marriott group|
|The chefs with bloggers for the evening|
This spread is one the largest I’ve seen. I had to be prudent and show a lot of self-control to sample smaller portions so as to maximize the number of dishes I ate. I also decided (quite shockingly) not to drink anything but water that evening. I started off with the Goan section and particularly the Goan spicy beef curry with pav bread. This was the Virendar Sehwag of the meal and came out all guns blazing smashing boundaries with the excellent balance of spice and pepper. The meat was done well enough to be mildly chewy and simply blew my taste buds away with the overall flavour. I also had the fish and calamari which were less than average when compared to the fabulous beef curry. The evening was off to a promising start.
|Goan Spicy Curry|
Next, I hit the Rajasthani section to try out some of the dishes there with the chutneys and especially the laal maas. There was this particular garlic chutney that offered a lovely taste yet was not strong enough to keep the vampires away. The spice in the laal maas was tempered down owing to the large foreign crowd at the festival. This seemed to be a theme across some of the dishes in the other counters that I was expecting would be spicy. I was looking forward to some ker sangri in this section. While there wasn’t any on display, the chef was kind enough to make a batch for us. My love for this dish continues.
I moved on to the Delhi section to indulge myself in some Delhi style chaat. While the flavour was closer to what one would get on the streets of Delhi as compared to what one gets locally, the lowered spice levels was a bit of a disappointment. There was a raw papaya salad in the Delhi stall that was among the dishes that stood out that evening. However, the best was yet to come.
|Dahi Paapdi Chaat|
The Maharashtrian stall was up next, and one particular dish at this stall pretty much sealed the deal for the evening. The Mutton Pandhara was a lovely dish made from chilli seeds and coconut milk. The mutton was cooked fabulously with the meat effortlessly falling off the bone. Combined with the sweet taste of coconut milk and the mild hint of chilli as the gravy goes down, this dish was my favourite for the evening. Everything about this dish was absolutely perfect. Followed by some hot poories with Shrikand, the Maharashtrian stall was the best among the stalls that evening.
|Mutton Pandhara with poori and Shrikand|
|A vegetarian dish made from Brinjal|
While I was tempted to go back for more of the mutton, better senses prevailed and I tried a variety of dishes from the other stalls including some kakori and shammi kababs from the Lucknow stall, an extremely heavy butter chicken from the Punjabi stall, kozhi roast from the Chettinad stall and a few others. One dish that did catch my attention was the twist on the paddu which was made from chicken and egg which was a completely new flavour altogether. I’ve always had the vegetarian version which I thoroughly enjoy with mint chutney, so it was nice to see some experimentation that paid off.
|Kababs from Lucknow|
The dessert section had a few pastries and custards, but did not offer anything that grabbed my attention and made me want to go back for seconds.
This festival was definitely one of the most unique festivals I have been too in terms of the spread and in terms of discovering new tastes. While I did wish I could revert to my former self from three years ago and effortlessly sample all the dishes, from what I did taste, there were some dishes that stood out miles ahead of the others. Namely, the Mutton Pandhara and the Goan Spicy Beef Curry. Folks looking to truly explore India through food must try this festival. Do head over to the Marriott and let me know what dish you loved the most.