Kerala might be branded ‘God’s own country’ thanks to the tranquil backwaters, pristine beaches, exotic wildlife and lush hills it plays home to. Personally, however, I feel it is the versatile, flavourful traditional cuisine that has earned the state the sobriquet. To offer gourmands a deeper insight into the region’s culinary treasures, the Marriott Suites Pune is hosting a Malabari food festival titled ‘Taste of Kerala’. Currently taking place at the multicuisine restaurant Sen5es, the festival will draw to a close on September 25.
Chef Tolien Varghese, who has come to town all the way from Kochi to curate the festival, said, “Malabari food is characterised by the liberal use of coconut, chillies, curry leaves, mustard seeds, tamarind, asafoetida and, naturally, spices like black pepper, cloves and cinnamon which the state has a rich supply of. The best part, however, is its wide variety of delicacies which cater to the needs of both vegetarians and meat-eaters.” We could not agree more – only in a Malabari meal can one savour a simple preparation of avail with as much delight as an exotic duck curry.
Some of the starters you can dig into here include parippu vada (a popular evening snack made from deep-fried lentils), ela ada (squat rice flour pockets stuffed with a jaggery-coconut mix), meen pollichathu (fish roasted in banana leaf), and kozhi kurumulaku (which is essentially the desi version of pepper chicken). In addition, a variety of rassams will be presented among the offerings, in flavours ranging from tomato and pepper to chicken and prawns. Main course features the classic combination of kappa (tapioca fry) and fish curry, karimeen pollichathu (pearl spot fish fried in banana leaf), beef fry to be mopped up with flaky Malabari parathas, mutton masala and meen moilee (fish stew). Finally, diners can nurse their sweet tooth with an array of desserts such as semiya (vermicelli) and carrot payasams, ada (rice and coconut milk) and the Onam-special cherupayar (split moong bean) pradhamans.