History tells us that seafarers from as far as Rome made their way to the west coast of Indian way back as 1000BC to source the famed Tellicherry black pepper and introduced it to Europe and the rest of the world. And when the Arabs followed suit to Kerala, they brought along with them their unique cuisine which over centuries has amalagamated into the Mappila palate of Kerala.
ITC Kakatiya is showcasing these flavours at Deccan Pavilion with its Thalaserry Food Festival. Helming the kitchen for this rare treat is guest Chef Sumaija from Thalaserry who specialises in Malabar cuisine. Salt to Taste was invited to sample some of her signature dishes over lunch.
The welcome drink was Pazham Pal Niravu, banana smoothie. Not a big fan of banana, would have given it a miss had it not tasted the shinni served at satyanarayan pujas and janmasthami with its mix of banana, flour and milk.
This was followed by Turkey Pathiri (influenced by Turks hence the name) which were deep fried mutton kheema filled momos, and Kozhi Kaal- tapioca fritters quite akin to french fries, only healthier (I guess?) and tastier.
Loved the Neya Pathris (deep fried rice pancakes) served with Thalasherry fish curry. The pancakes made of soaked and roughly ground parboiled rice, coconut, fennel, shallots and cardomom were the perfect accompaniment to the coconut based murrel fish curry.
Another interesting highlight was the Mutton kunjorroti – steamed parboiled rice dumplings cooked along with mutton and spices. A one dish meal in itself.
Chef Sumaija saved the best for last with her piece de resistance – the Thalasherry mutton biryani. Heavily influenced by Arabic pilaf, this was an extremely light biryani dum cooked with just the perfect hint of minimal whole spices. While this is traditionally made with Jerrasamba rice, Chef Sumaija used basmati instead by popular demand. I personally would have preferred this iconic Thalaserry dish were made with the authentic rice since Jerrasamba absorbs spice flavours much better than basmati grains.
Dessert consisted of Kai Pola, a sweet cake made with deep fried banana, eggs and malabar spices. Liked that this wasn’t overpoweringly sweet, a delicious end to a memorable meal.
Guests can sample these unique flavours that are part of the dinner buffet till 16th October at Deccan Pavilion, priced at Rs 1,700 inclusive of taxes. And if you let out a loud burp at the end of that meal, no worries. The Arabs consider that a sign of a satiatingly good meal!
Deccan Pavilion, ITC Kakatiya, Begumpet, Hyderabad