Dishes in which veggies are mixed with meat are among the specialities of Nadar food, now being showcased at Dakshin

Our country is popular for its diverse culture and regional unity which gives importance to relationships and emotions. I have grown up with friends who used to come to my place on Eid wearing a new Pathani suit, and I used to celebrate Diwali with the same passion. Taking the tradition to the next level are commercial establishments like WelcomHotel Sheraton, New Delhi, who showcase the culinary culture of different regions and communities of the country as food festivals. This time WelcomHotel Sheraton has come up with a Nadar Food Festival at its Dakshin restaurant.

Though the lesser known Nadar cuisine is worth trying, Dakshin’s Master Chef Velu had in mind a special connect while curating the promotion. Once I settled at my favourite table facing the kitchen, Chef Velu came over and I asked him how he learned this cuisine. After a pause he said his friend who was from the Nadar community taught him. The pause from the much talkative chef instigated me to ask further about his friend. As soon as he told me his name was Jacob Aruni, I understood the reason behind the pause, recalling celebrity Chef Jacob’s untimely demise last year. Chef Velu said, “He wanted me to take the cuisine to five stars and here I am with a Nadar food festival.”

We started on the gastronomic journey with a rasam. It had an aroma of perfect South Indian herbs and spices, a bit tangy and spicy at the same time. Kozhi varuval, the only option in starters, was pretty good — deep fried tender chicken chunks well flavoured with coriander. The main course seemed to be full of options and quite promising. The Nilgiri kari kurma was delicious and went well with the appam. Simmered in peppercorn, the chicken was spicy at the edge.

Vazhaipoovum yeralum, a prawn preparation made of banana flowers (vazhaipoo) was creamy and delicious. In Nadar cuisine, a lot of veggies are mixed with meats. I had a taste of fish with okra and found it good to eat, though the fish was a bit dry. The last two dishes to be served were kozhi biryani (chicken biryani) and keema kothu paratta. Both were master delicacies. The biryani was flavourful and aromatic. The keema paratha was well blended and a unique preparation. I left Dakshin with a bite of inippu susiyam in my mouth — a small sweet dumpling made out of green moong dal and jaggery.

Nadar Food Festival ends September 21

Meal for two – Rs.4000

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