Thursday, June 7, 2012

Seafood festival at ITC Gardenia

ITC Gardenia will be having a seafood fest starting today until Sunday. Chef Harish from Chennai (from Dakshin) is down here and he's come up with a host of specialties from the coastal areas of the 4 southern states. The dishes will be served as part of the buffet at the Cubbon Pavilion. I was invited for a sampling, and after speaking to the Chef, I can safely say that he knows and loves what he cooks, so you can expect the same quality throughout the fest. Here's a sneak-peak at what to expect.

We started our meal with a semolina crusted soft shell crab (from Karwar). If semolina crusted is sounding vague, try rava fry. Seafood dishes from the western coast, especially Karnataka use red chilli powder for the dry fry preparations, and aren't overly spicy. It was the same case here. The soft shell crab was delicately flavoured, and I swear if I wasn't in a 5 star hotel, I'd have grabbed the ones off the plates of my fellow guests as well.


Karwar jenji fry - Semolina-crusted soft shell crab

From Karwar, we moved further south to Kerala, and we were served with a prawn starter - the chemmeen ularthiyathu, or prawns tossed in shallots and coconut, along with red chilli powder and a few other spices (coriander, cumin, garlic, and maybe a little ginger as well). I know the dishes are usually toned down so is appreciated by all, but I'd have preferred if they'd have maintained the same spice levels as the dish demanded.

Another crab dish, this time in the main course, was the star attraction. The peetala igguru (an Andhra dish), or crab meat simmered in a mixture of cashew nut paste and masala, and served in the crab shell itself, was a fabulous dish, scoring high on presentation, flavour, and ingenuity.


Peetala igguru - crab meat simmered in a mixture of cashew and masala

Next on the menu was another Andhra specialty - royalla munakaya pulusu, or prawns in a tangy drumstick curry. I really expected this dish to be spicy (because it's an Andhra dish :P). However, it was actually quite a surprise to see prawns paired with drumsticks, and go quite well in the dish. However, a little extra 'bite' would've been nice. The mambazham pulissery was a clever dish where mango was used to substitute tamarind, since mangoes are in season. The taste wasn't as sharp and the sweetness from the mango lent a slightly subdued touch. I personally love sour and tangy dishes, so this was probably the least favourable dish for me.


Royalla Munakaya pulusu - prawns simmered in a tangy drumstick curry (right), and mambazham pulissery - mangoes in a coconut gravy

One of Kerala's most popular local dish, the karimeen pollichattu, or pearl spot fish was served with a red chilli powder marinade, wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled. Brilliant. Enough said.


Karimeen pollichattu - pearl spot fish wrapped in banana leaf cooked on a griddle

Some of the other dishes on offer are the kujit (stewed prawns, squids, mussels and clams in coconut milk with green chillies, garlic and onions), Allepy fish curry (seer fish cooked in raw mango and coconut milk curry), and chemmeen idiappam biryani (string hopper prawn biryani).


Chemmeen idiappam biryani string hopper prawn biryani


Starting from the 12 o'clock position, moving clockwise: mambazham pulissert, royalla munakaya pulusu, peetala igguru, butter beans with green chillies in tamarind and garlic gravy, pepper rice


Kujit - stewed prawns, squid, clams and mussels in coconut milk


Badam halwa (left), and rice payasa

Cost:
Lunch: Rs 1200 + tax (Fri, Sat) per person
Dinner: Rs 1275 + tax (Fri, Sat, Sun) per person
Sunday brunch (seafood included): Rs 1950 + tax per person

What are you waiting for. Get calling. The fest is open only till this Sunday.

2 comments:

Rani Jeyaraj said...

Loved the review and pictures. I agree with you, wish 5 stars would stick to authentic levels of spiciness.

EarnesTaster said...

excellent offer from this place, at least for the Fri-Sat menu