The Kerala food festival at Taj Banjara brings you flavours from the Malabar coast

If you walk into the Kerala food festival at Waterside Café, Taj Banjara expecting coconut-based gravies, a new variety of fish and Malabar paratha, you will not be disappointed. The spread included all this and more. Kerala food is roughly classified into three categories depending on the Hindu, Syrian Christian and Mappila Muslim communities that live in the State. While the traditional Onam Sadhya best represents the food of the first, the Syrian Christian community can be credited with the famous mutton stew and beef preparations and the Mappilas with Kerala’s variant of the Biryani.

The spread at Waterside Café attempted to bring in elements from all three categories. For starters, guests can try the famous Trivandrum Fried Chicken, a spicy chicken prepared with a special masala. Vegetarians can opt for the beetroot cutlet or the Chena fry, a dish of tawa-fried yam. Fish is a staple food in Kerala and the festival does offer a variety of fish dishes. From the Matthi porichathu (pan roasted sardines) to the Karimeen Polichathu (fish wrapped in banana leaf and roasted) to the traditional fish curry with coconut, spiced with Kokum brought all the way from Kerala. Non-vegetarians can also try the quail fry, a local delicacy in North Kerala. To go with these dishes, there are a variety of breads – Malabar paratha, flaky bread made from maida, puttu or steamed rice cakes and Appam, a rice pancake best eaten with the mutton stew.

Another must-try dish is the Kappa Varathathu, a classic dish that is relatively unknown outside Kerala. You can also try the Kozhi Biriyani; a pakki biryani made with chicken, spices and jeerakasala rice, a good change from the famous Hyderabadi Biryani. When it comes to Malayali cuisine, Hyderabad has very few options. Save for three or four small joints dotting the city, restaurants specialising in Kerala food are rare. For this reason, the Kerala food festival at Waterside Café, Taj Banjara comes as a good surprise. However, in terms of taste, the spread at Waterside Café, did not offer much more than these restaurants do.