Manna from God’s Own Country

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Rice Boat, Vivanta by Taj Malabar Cochin’s much lauded seafood restaurant has a treat in store for Hyderabadis. They’ve lent their veteran, Chef Shaji to our town till Tuesday (August 26, 2014) to give us a unique sampling of traditional Kerala cuisine.

He, along with Taj Deccan’s Executive Chef Sajesh Nair have put together a smorgasbord of home-style vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian Malabari cuisine at Spice Junxion for its Kerala Food Festival.

The à la carte menu is served in a delightfully unique concept of multi-tiered lunchboxes in the afternoon, and Malabari thalis during dinner.

Among the entrees, the Naadan Kozhi Porichathu (tender chicken morsels marinated with ethnic spices and pan-fried) was an appetizing start to the meal. There’s also a vegetarian version made with button mushrooms that tasted just as good, if not better.

There’s the who gamut of traditional fare – right from Karimeen Porichathu (Pearl spot fish, a popular backwater delicacy, marinated with ethnic spices and crispy fried, served with onion salad and tempered Tapioca), a surprisingly light chicken stew in a tender coconut broth, to Chemmeen Moilee (prawns simmered in moderately spiced coconut curry and flavoured with fennel) – and much, much more on the deliciously comprehensive menu. You could choose to team the dishes with sinful Malabar parathas, fluffy aapams, puttu, string hoppers or my all-time favourite, Kerala brown rice.

Special mention of the river salmon marinated, wrapped and steamed in banana leaf. I didn’t catch the traditional name of this dish, but it was absolute soul food!

The dessert of Tender Coconut Mousse (a light mousse of tender coconut pulp and coconut cream, with palm treacle) was a surprising unorthodox revelation. I especially liked the bits of tender coconut in the mouse. For a more traditional ending, I also had the not too sweet Palada Payasam (rice flakes, cooked with milk reduction and dry nuts, flavoured with cardamom). Delish!

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