Don’t miss the delicious cuisine from different parts of Karnataka at The GRT.

Ongoing Karnataka food festival at Hotel GRT Regency has thrown open smorgasbord flavours from the land of ‘one State many worlds’ to savour.

Though there is a strong influence of Malabar style in its spicy coastal dishes and semblance of Maharashtrian food in rotis made of wheat, jowar and ragi (widely consumed in the northern parts), Karnataka also has its exclusive recipes that have made a mark.

Competing against the much popular Andhra food and other top South Indian cuisines, it does boast of a vast culinary repertoire, be it the ‘hurtha kori’ (chicken with methi leaves) or the ‘chatte meen kari’ (prawns with coriander and local tamarind pulp) or the much popular Udipi vegetarian dishes, ‘tarkari pathartha’ (country vegetables masala), ‘kai kari sagu’ (fresh vegetables with palak), ‘bisi bele huliana’ (dhal rice).

“This festival is a result of a month-long planning. Realising the opportunity to explore wholesome Karnataka food, we flew in a master craft chef from Chennai exclusively to take charge of the event. We also arranged to bring all necessary indigenous ingredients from Bangalore for the festival. From a list of more than 700 recipes, we shortlisted 300 for the 10-day festival. We plan to repeat some delicacies that are most favoured by the gourmands,” beams V. Arul Murugan, Food and Beverages Manager.

Most of the coastal recipes are rich in flavour with the liberal use of coconut oil as a medium of cooking while those in the interior Karnataka use sesame and groundnut oil (much like their counterparts in Tamil Nadu).

The salad section with ‘kosambaris’ (warm vegetable salads) is quite impressive to start with. Move on to meat cooked in coconut milk that lends a unique taste typical to Mangalorean cuisine like the ‘masa sukka’ (mutton with red chilli).

Most of the Coorgi curries, which are noted for their flavour and taste are also coconut based, lightly spiced and moderately sour well reflected in the ‘chatte meen kari’, where prawns are cooked along with the finely ground paste of onion, tomato, coriander and mint. The taste enhancer is the pulp from ‘kanjampuli’ (extract from the boiled local tamarind species) which is added at the end.

“Karnataka cuisine is basically chilli-based. The bedagai chillies come from northern parts. With less seeds they are moderately spicy and give the desired colour to the recipes. When it comes to Karnataka food, jaggery is indispensible. As most people here might not like the sweetness in the recipes, we have chosen cuisines that use less jaggery. In all, we have planned around 110 vegetarian recipes, 60 non-vegetarian dishes, 100 desserts and 20 different types of breads,” lists out K. Suresh, South Indian Master Craft Chef (Corporate), GRT Grand, Chennai.

‘Madur vadai’ (prepared with siroti rava) is a bonne bouche. It is a mixture of siroti rava, maida, ginger, chilli, curry leaves, asafoetida, vanaspathi, coarsely powdered channa dal and cashew nuts well roasted in ghee. The dough is made into small balls, then flattened and deep fried in oil.

Among the breads, the phulka lookalike ‘akki roti’ (rice roti) is one sure recipe in the menu for the roti lovers.

The on-the-spot counter has the much popular ‘neer dosa’. The super soft dish is so called because the unfermented batter prepared with raw rice, starch and coconut milk is of watery consistency. “It goes well with the ‘annas menaskai’ (a curry made with pine apple),” says Mr. Suresh.

The dessert section is over crowded with indigenous delicacies topped by the widely accepted ‘mysorepak’ and ‘hayagriva maddi’ (mashed channadal with palm jaggery). Besides, ‘adukku puttu’ (rice kozhukattai with coconut and jaggery), ‘atti payasam’ (wheat flour with coconut and cow milk) make it extensive.

With the earthy flavours of north Karnataka, traditional south fare, spicy coastal dishes, and distinguishable Kodava cuisine, the significant contribution of Karnataka food to the Indian cuisine cannot be dispensed with.

The festival is on till July11 and is open between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. at Ahaaram restaurant. The tariff is Rs.500 plus tax for adults and Rs.350 plus tax for children between 5 and 12 years). For more details dial 0452-2371155.

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