Monday, 29 April 2013

Southern Spice - Taj Coromandel

When you are invited by the Taj for a hosted dinner (as part of CFG Bloggers Showcase), there's this feeling of exhilaration, a feeling of royalty. True to that, we were treated to the maharaja virundhu. (or maharani in my case ;-) ) As we waited in the lobby for someone to escort us to the private dining area of Southern Spice, we observed that security had been beefed up. As we wondered which VIP was staying there, we saw a line of Sun Risers Hyderabad players walking across the lobby towards the elevators. Waqar Younis, Ishanth Sharma and Dale Steyn (<3) were those that I could see :-)

As we all seated around the table and made ourselves comfortable, fresh wet turkish towels placed in front of us to freshen up. This was followed by a little explanation of what was special about this meal. A glass of ginger punch marked the beginning of this elaborate dinner. A plate of munchies with 4 types of chutneys were available.

The first dish on the plate was a mini idli, an idli so adorably tiny. This was followed by a banana dosa of sorts, slightly sweet and tasted excellent with the chutneys smeared on top. For the salad, the kosmalli (Injipuli koshambri), a mixture of grated carrot, coriander and urad dal wrapped in lettuce leaves made a lovely crunch.

A tiny shot glass in white was placed to the right side of the plate and was filled with the most aromatic and tangy mysore rasam. The teeny bit of jaggery in this rasam tasted well on the palate and was not overpowering at all. The final dish of the starter course was the molagu adai.

It's now time for the main course. The group indulged in a friendly banter and conversation ranged from various types of fish and from where each fish is imported to retaining the freshness of the gravies. Chef Anand stopped by to find out if we were happy.

The gold plated plate was set with little bowls decorating the top portion of the plate. Edomame Kurma (Pookose urlai kurma), Asparagus Paruppu usili, Zucchini thenga curry (Zucchini kaara poriyal), vegetable stew (Pachakari ishtew) and Channa gravy (Kadala gassi) constituted the vegetarian sides of this menu. A south Indian touch to international vegetables - the Japanese Edomame, the Mediterranean Asparagus and the Italian Zucchini truly makes one wonder if this is how food can unite the world! The mains included a parotta, idiyappam (string hoppers) and the fluffy aappam.

In between all this, my concentration was on the brilliant yet unobtrusive veena instrumental music curated specially for Southern Spice. I was lost in some of the brilliant renditions, especially Chinnan Chiru Kiliye. The ambiance calls for a special mention - compelling paintings of the kings whose kingdoms' kitchens  were instrumental in what is part of the maharaja virundhu this evening. 

We were beginning to get stuffed. And then they announce that there's going to be more. Rice with the quintessential paruppu podi with gheeeee (er..), small onion sambar (Arachivitta Sambhar - a recipe from Chef Anand's home) and more of the mysore rasam - were delightful. And no meal is complete without the thachi mummu (the one and only curd rice). This was served with a little manathakkali vethakozhambu - totally droolworthy and if you were like me, you wouldn't mind licking your fingers even at the Taj. This food is meant to be eaten with the hands and was sure finger lickin' good.

How can I forget the curry leaf juice spiked with vodka - ha! *sheepish grin* This was one of the best desi cocktail concoctions I've ever had.

Now for the dessert - the elaneer payasam - a hand-me-down recipe from the Mammens of the MRF family was absolutely a perfect way to end the meal. Also were served a Godhi-bella ice cream (banana jaggery ice cream) and belgian chocolate mousse cake filled with lentil, jaggery and coconut (Chocolate purnam mousse). Yum's the word for the chocolate mousse cake.

At the end of it all, if you want me to summarize this dinner, I can only say - Wah Taj boliye! 

* This meal is priced INR 5000 + tax. If you'd like to pair this with an Indian wine, it's priced at 8000 + tax and upwards for international wines. If you want a simple thali, it's priced at 2000 + tax.

* This was a hosted dinner. This is part of the CFG Showcase

* Southern Spice is part of Taj Coromandel, Nungambakkam High Road, Chennai. 













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Munch on....