Food is big with MetroPlus, Coimbatore. When once Annapoorna dosas stopped conversations, now a wasabi ice-cream or a smoked salmon could turn heads. Food festivals then were rare. We were excited for days before the odd food event. But today, Coimbatore has leapfrogged into almost daily food-based events. Purple Basil, Wok This Way, That’s Y On the Go, Pasta Bar Veneto, Cascade, Myx, Anandhas, Hot Chocolate…we are spoilt for choice now. Big hotels such as the Vivanta by Taj-Surya, Le Meridien and Park Plaza have changed the skyline.

In the 10 years we have watched eating places come and go. We have celebrated the innovations of those who endured. We have been amazed at how mamis and paatis, who have never stepped out of their homes, supplement their family income by making murukkus and molaga podis, pickles and maavus. A younger generation has seen business opportunities in baking and cooking classes, catering and food writing. Mothers and periammas, grandmothers and athais and their recipes have been fondly recalled and recorded.

We have tracked down old favourite haunts of city dwellers, undertaken biriyani odysseys and checked out the roadside kalan and muttai dosai. Chefs and housewives, students and foodies have shared their recipes and cooking tips with us. Tarla Dalal, Mallika Badrinath, Chef Damodaran, Nita Mehta, the late Chef Jacob, Sanjeev Kapoor visited the city and we spoke to them. From cookies made of traditional millets to all-organic party cakes and muffins, we have tasted them all and shared our findings with our readers.

Chefs of the big hotels and the more popular restaurants have unhesitatingly given us the recipes of their popular dishes. Eating options have grown ten times over since 2003. And MetroPlus has kept pace. From poolside restaurants to those that take orders on iPads, from serving sushi and satay to crostinis and panacotta, tentative experimentation has now given way to confident spreads.

Some of our food columnists and chefs speak of their association with MetroPlus. Given below are some of the recipes that won them a fan following

S. Ashok Kumar

Executive Chef, The Residency

Even today people ask after the recipes I contributed to MetroPlus. Thanks to it, our interaction with the public at large has increased. Food festivals and special events in the hotel have drawn great response from people. Not just for the restaurants in our hotel, general food reviews in the newspaper have had great impact.

SInstead of a recipe, Chef Ashok gives handy tips of preparing a few dishes well in advance before a party. Be smart and get the time-consuming bits of your cooking done well before your big day, he says. Here are some simple marinades and gravy you can prepare in advance.

Italian Salad Dressing (Can be stored for three to four days). Peeled and finely chopped garlic (two to three pearls); diced red capsicum (a tablespoonful); juice of two lemons, 100 ml of olive oil, salt, white pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly and store in a bottle. It can be kept in room temperature. Shake well before adding to any basic salad, just before serving.

Marinades that can be made in advance

Marinade -I For 500 gm meat. Ginger/garlic paste – 50 gms, Juice of one lemon, a pinch of black salt, some papaya juice to tenderise the meat, a dash of mustard oil

Marinade – II Hung curd – one cup, salt, pepper, garam masala powder, ajwain, roasted jeera powder, all to taste. Mix well. Marinate the meat with this, two hours before it has to be cooked.

Red gravy (Can be made three days in advance)Ingredients: Onion (250 gm), tomato (250 gm), ginger-garlic paste (50 gm), chilli powder, turmeric, coriander powder, whole garam masala (10 gm cloves, cardamom, cinnamon), oil.

Procedure: Pre-heat the oil. Add the garam masala, chopped onions and sauté till golden brown. Add the ginger-garlic paste, chilli powder, sauté till raw smell disappears. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook well till the oil separates. Add salt to taste. Cool and refrigerate.

White gravy

Boil whole onion (1/2 kilo) and cashew (250 gm) together. Puree.

Cook in oil along with garam masala till the oil separates. Add slit green chillies to retain the pale colour. Cool and refrigerate.

The food column recognised local talent. There was good response to the columns. Even today, people remember them. Last week, a lady walked up to me and said she preserves cuttings of the recipes. It helped that most recipes used locally available ingredients.

Ajeet Kumar Lal Mohan

Secretary and Managing Trustee AJK College of Arts and Science

Saloni fish tikka

Ingredients

Boneless fish cubes – 6, Salt to taste, Fenugreek powder – quarter tsp, Turmeric powder - quarter tsp, Red chilli powder - half tsp, Garam masala – a pinch, ginger garlic paste - 3 tsp, thick curd - 1 tsp, Lemon juice - 2 tsp, Cream - 1 tsp Mustard oil - 10 ml.

Method

Wash, clean and dry the fish pieces. Prepare a marinade with salt, fenugreek, turmeric, red chilli, garam masala powder, ginger-garlic paste, curd, lemon juice and cream. Marinate the fish. Keep it aside for 20 to 30 minutes. Skewer the fish and roast in a medium hot tandoor for 5-6 minutes. Braise with oil and roast again till done. Remove and serve hot with mint chutney.

I enjoy food-related articles in MetroPlus, especially since it covers an entire range from the traditional to the international. Through my column, I have been able to reach out to many people. I know of instances where my published recipes have been read abroad as well! I appreciate how MetroPlus often carries details about the nutrition content of food. It concerns itself not just with taste, but also the wellness aspect.

R. Singaravelavan

HOD, Department of Catering Science and Hotel Management, SNR and Sons College

Beet And Corn Salad

Ingredients

Beetroot -150 gms, baby corn –three,green peas (shelled) - 50 gms, Boiled egg – two, Lettuce - 1 bunch

For dressing:

Olive oil or refined oil - 50ml , Vinegar - 15ml, salt and white pepper powder- to taste

Method

Peel and cut beetroot into dices. Cut baby corn. Half-boil shelled peas, corn and beetroot in salted water and keep aside. Tear few lettuce leaves into small bits. Cut the white of boiled eggs. Place prepared vegetables and egg in a bowl, add dressing. Mix gently with spoon and fork. Place dressed vegetables over lettuce leaves and serve.

Note: Place all ingredients for dressing in a bottle and close tightly. Shake vigorously till thoroughly combined. Lemon juice may be used in place of vinegar.

Chef Muthu Kumar

Executive Chef, Alankar Grande

The column gave us great visibility. Because, however well one cooks, public reach makes a difference. The supplement covered food festivals at a time when the trend was yet to catch up in the city. It encouraged all of us to try and do something different.

The recipe section became very popular and many guests would even call back to share feedback or clarify doubts in the preparation.

Tennessee fried chicken

Ingredients

Breast of chicken (boneless): 500 gm, egg: one, maida: 50 gm, 8 to 8 sauce: 10 ml, 8 to 9 sauce: 10 ml,

Worcestershire sauce 10 ml, Fresh cream: 25 ml, Celery (chopped): one, crushed pepper: 10 gm, herbs: two pinches, mustard powder: 5 gm, cornflakes: 150 gm, salt: to taste, oil : 250 ml

Method Clean and cut chicken into even sized pieces. Marinate with all ingredients and leave it aside to soak. Coat the marinated chicken with slightly crushed cornflakes. Deep fry till crisp and golden brown colour. Drain and place in a serving dish. Serve hot with boiled vegetables, French fries and barbecue sauce.

RANJANA SINGHAL

That’s Y Food

That’s Y food and MetroPlus we are almost the same age. When we started our restaurant, there was no concept of food review. It was MetroPlus that covered our festival for the first time. Thanks to the reviews, we have been able to take our restaurants, That’s Y Food, On The Go and Wok This Way, to the next level.

Dal Makhni

Ingredients

Whole Black Gram (whole urad) Dal: 250 gm, Kidney Beans (rajma): 50 gm, Chana Dal: 50 gm, Tomatoes: 4 Large, pureed, Ginger/garlic paste: 1 tbs, Garam Masala: 1 tsp, Red chilli powder: 2 tsp, Jeera powder: 2 tsp, Dhania powder: 2 tsp, Kasoori Methi: 2 tsp, Bay leaf : 1 whole, Black Cardamom: 1, Kashmiri chilli powder: 2 tsp, Ghee: 1 tbs, Cream: 50 gm, Salt: To taste

Method

Soak all dals in water for eight hours. Pressure cook along with the Kashmiri chilli powder, salt, whole black cardamom and bay leaf. In a separate pan, heat the ghee and add jeera, ginger/garlic paste and saute. Add the rest of the dry masalas and fry till aromatic. Add the tomato puree and saute for a while longer until the ghee separates. Add the boiled dal, simmer and top it with cream. Serve hot with paranthas.