A variety of sizzlers take centre stage at the sizzler and steak festival at The Woods Manor

The Queen Sizzler is named thus for a reason. “Kochi has an abundance of queen prawns. How can we have a sizzler festival without the queen?” asks G.S. Panneer, executive chef of The Woods Manor. So, starting with the Queen is a good idea. Golden brown prawns sizzle on a bed of cabbage shreds served with small triangular portions of parathas and gravy. Chef Panneer is proud of his style, not compromising on the Indianness of the prawns. “I have marinated the prawns with Indian spices to retain the taste. The smokiness on the sizzler plate just enhances the flavours,” he says.

The sizzler and steak festival on at the hotel packs in a delightful variety. Though the menu has given beef a miss, chicken, prawn and lamb compensate well. Unlike a traditional sizzler and steak festival, this one is a fusion of various culinary cultures in sizzler form. “A lot of research has gone into the selection of the dishes,” says Panneer, who called up his friends from the industry in various parts of the country and outside to discuss the menu.

The Mughalai Platter combines the flavours of mutton and chicken. Gosht lasooni, murgh adhraki cooked in a clay oven accompanied by garlic naan is as authentic as it can get. Mughalai cuisine reappears in the Hussiyana Murgh Tikka, too, which has crispy chicken balls marinated with tandoor masala and crumbed with coconut powder. The coconut lends a distinct flavour to the platter. The Kabuli paranthas and the mint and tangy sauces that accompany the chicken make it a complete meal by itself.

For those who swear by “Chinese” cuisine, the Oriental Sizzler would be worth a try. It has cham cham fried rice with mint kai and hot garlic sauce. The Shanghai Kai Sizzler (Chinese noodles with spicy chicken) and Char Sue Platter (shredded lamb with crispy Chinese fried rice and mint sauce), too, are alternatives.

Chef Panneer brings his expertise in Italian cuisine to the table in the vegetarian section. Penne Chopsuey and the Fusili Italia are good options. The former has creamy penne pasta with cheese and mushroom served with rolls and baked potato and the latter is just Fusili in Italian sauce accompanied by brown bread.

Snow Finger Sizzler, Subz Seek and the Subz Shashlik Sizzler have a delightful assortment of vegetables diced to perfection, cooked, grilled, buttered and roasted.

Though it is a steak and sizzler fest, the focus clearly is on the sizzler. “The sizzler is the star. It is a very healthy dish, you know. It is not deep fried. It won’t make you fat,” Panneer says. The only steak on the menu is the Steak Diane, a juicy delicious chicken breast, cooking in its own sauces, topped with a fried egg, sunny side up, served with baked potatoes, glazed vegetables and bread rolls.

The menu, however succinct, is not complete without the desserts. The chef’s special Fried Snow Ball (crumbed ice-cream deep fried and topped with chocolate sauce), Crunchy Dragon (noodle stuffed pancake with a splash of cherry sauce) and Cut-Fruits in a Pineapple Boat.

The festival is on till May 26. It is open for lunch (12 noon to 3 p.m.) and dinner (7 p.m. to 11 p.m.).

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