The best of Indian cuisine comes together at a food festival dedicated to the traditional recipes of the country
Chef Biju Monian is ready with a smile and loads of food—Indian food. The sweep of his ladle is wide. It takes you through the rich foods from the valley of Kashmir to the hearty, spicy food of coastal Kanyakumari. His reason for serving Indian cuisine during “off season” is that native food is a draw anytime and will get him the footfalls.
He is right.
Rasaleela, the seafood restaurant hosting the Indian food fest, Rasoi Masala, at The Renai Cochin on weekends through October offers a huge choice and raises a big appetite.
Wide and varied
The menu is a la carte and a good way to go through the repast is to choose the specialities from different states. So begin with the soup appetizers. The coastal seafood soup is a relished recipe from the peninsula and the famed Hyderabadi paya shorba, a healthy, strong consommé.
From the salad platter, try out the tangy southern flavoured raw mango salad and set it off with the chaat salads from the North. For entrees, interestingly called (shuruwaat, meaning beginning) the kebab platter is a must. It offers grilled meats marinated in different marinades ranging from the searing mustard flavour to the more piquant tandoori paste.
Before moving on to the main course, try out wholesome snacks like the popular kaati roll, seafood wada and cocktail samosa.
Chef Biju, with his 23 years of experience, knows the pulse of diners. He has cleverly provided live stations offering grilled barbeque, which are popular with guests, he says. The soft, shiny grilled red snapper, delicately flavoured and cooked on high direct heat is succulent and juicy.
The seer fish kebabs, marinated in green paste and grilled, win hands down in the variety and the mince seekh kebabs come a close second . There is a lot going at the fest for lovers of seafood. They can revel in the best from the depths of the ocean—crabs, squids, clams, mussels, prawns. Have these grilled or deep fried or roasted.
The naadan spread is elaborate. Kothu paratha, idiyappam, kappa-meen curry are all there to choose from.
Another good way to wend through this elaborate menu is to take each meat and try out the different cooking styles. The fiery Andhra chicken is poles apart from the bird cooked Mughlai style or the hot pepper fry version. The Goan speciality—pork vindaloo is worth a try just as the Kerala duck roast is.
With so much going for the meat eaters, the chef has taken special care to provide as much variety for the vegans. There are the must have Eastern specialities of baigan bhaja—deep fried aubergines and aloo posto—potatoes in poppy seeds. The sweet and tangy daal dhokli is a Gujarati speciality.
Rice preparations too come in a variety. The saffron flavoured Kashmiri long grained rice is as scrumptious as the sweet and sour tamarind rice from the south. The range of breads is vast and rare. Agra paratha, badami paratha, khasta roti, amritsari paratha are absolute rarities unless one visits a food festival.
When completely satiated with the variety and flavours then end on a sweet note.
The chef has very smartly roped in his Bengali sweet maker to come up with the best of Bengali sweets.
The laung latika is a speciality and a rarity. Milk based sweets—chum chum, sandesh, pista roll—are delicately flavoured. For hardcore sweetness, go for the hot jalebis. If you feel like a naadan, sweet there’s plenty again to choose from.
Live Indian music blends with this rich dining and the bearers dressed desi style complete the home feel.
The tastes of India warm the heart, mind and tummy and one can only say happily, Jai hind.