The colours and spice of oriental cuisine comes alive at the Oriental food fest at Beaumonde The Fern

The tiny tofu sandwich in sweet chilli sauce is a stunner—fleshy white triangles of tofu soaking in a bed of translucent orange liquid. The taste is a revelation, too. The usually bland tofu in a sweet and spicy avatar. One of the highlights at the Oriental food fest at hotel Beaumonde The Fern, the dish is a perfect combination of culinary skill and aesthetic sense.

Bean curd

It is also a healthy alternative to the standard meat starter, informs Vinay Nigam, the executive chef of the hotel. Tofu (also known as bean curd) is made from soy bean and is celebrated across international cuisines for its health benefits. A tofu dish, Nigam feels, would complete the oriental menu he has chosen for the festival, which includes an interesting mix of Thai, Indonesian and Malaysian cuisines.

Oriental food is very close to the Indian palate in a diluted sense, of course, Nigam says. “Indian cuisine has coconut and spices just like the cuisines of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. The difference is in the cooking style. Authentic Thai, for instance, will be too spicy for the Indian taste,” he says. While Indian recipes usually use coriander leaves, Thai recipes include the paste made by grinding the stem of coriander. It also uses a lot of seaweed, lemon grass and ginger.

Starting the meal with soup is a good idea, as there is a variety to choose from. Tom Yum, a clear broth with chunks of mushroom and prawn, is infused with the gentle tanginess of galangal (Thai ginger) and lemon grass. Chicken, lamb and beef are on the menu. The Lung Fung is a simple thick soup with egg white. For veggies, the routine sweet corn comes with thick corn cream. Or the Manchow with crispy noodles.

Starters are a meal by themselves. Phad Karphow, chicken with basil and vegetables, is crispy and moist at the same time with a hint of sweetness. Wok-tossed, stir-fried, satay, or just as rolls, the starters are available in chicken, seafood, beef, lamb, tofu, mushroom and a choice of vegetables. Lumpia, vegetable-filled pancake rolls, is an Indonesian dish that would suit the Indian taste.

Main course is equally divided between rice and noodles. Plain rice with Thai red chicken curry blends extremely well. The aromatic basmati rice complements the soothing herby flavour of the chicken curry.

Indonesia’s famous Nasi Gorang, Malaysian Hot Noodles with Tofu, the traditional Thai basil fried rice (Khao Phad Karphow) are just some of the specialities among a range of delicious rice and noodle dishes.

Have a coconut fixation? Try the Malaysian Lamb Rendang (lamb cooked in coconut milk) or the Malaysian beef/chicken curry (made with fresh coconut milk and typical Malay spices).

The sheer variety in vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian fare will be welcomed by guests, Nigam feels. “Since Malayalis love non-vegetarian, I chose all the popular meat dishes of the three countries,” he says. Nigam, who has specialised in French, Italian, American, Chinese, Thai and Indian cuisines and is a fan of Thai cuisine himself.

Salads

No meal is satisfactory without salads. Here, you have a delectable range starting from seafood to chicken, vegetables, fruits and even noodle salads to pick from. The Chinese Kimchi salad is a favourite, as it has chilli paste sugar and sesame seed. The Som Tom is a Thai raw papaya salad. For a simple salad, try the Yam Woong Sen, made of simple glass noodles.

The must-haves in the dessert section are the Almond Butter Crunch, caramelised almonds and fruits in sweet syrup, the Pisang Goreng, an Indonesian roll filled with coconut and fruits, the Sanwinmakin, a rawa-based Indonesian sweet, and the Dadar Gulag, a pancake made of dates.

The festival is on till October 7 (weekends-buffet; weekdays-ala carte). The chef plans to introduce a separate Thai section to the menu after the festival.