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Taste of tradition

Chennai-ites have a treat in store for them at hotels and restaurants, which are offering a sumptuous spread for Pongal. A round-up...

PONGAL IS a season of prosperity and plenty; a time for rejoicing and feasting. And Chennai's hotels and restaurants have tried to capture the festive spirit with buffets and banquets.

At Navratna, the Indian restaurant at the Le Royal Meridien, Pongal Kondattam will comprise special lunch and dinner buffets on January 15 and 16 with dishes from various parts of the State. An exclusive `Sundal and Salad Counter' and varieties of Pongal, prepared by Chef Narayanan, will be the highlights. The hotel has also planned a corner featuring North Indian cuisine.

That's not all. There will be a fiesta comprising music and dance, organised by Nirmala Umashankar, Bharatanatyam exponent and musicologist. Live performances by instrumentalists will make lunch a pleasant experience, while variety entertainment shows will make dinner a delight. For reservations, call 22314343.

At Copper Point, GRT Grand Days (120, Thyagaraya Road, Pondy Bazaar), a Pongal feast awaits gourmets every evening from today till January 17. Be it venn pongal, sarkarai pongal, pal paniayaram, kuzhi paniyaram, kaikari mandi or pachadi... here's the right opportunity to savour tradition and in a traditional ambience. Guests can get a glimpse of colourful folk forms such as poikal kudirai aattam, kavadi aattam, mayilattam, and karagattam on all the three days from 7.30 p.m. onwards. The dinner buffet is priced at Rs. 300 plus taxes for adults and Rs. 200 plus taxes for children below 10 years.

At Taj Connemara it will be a rustic scene with images of jalli kattu flashed on a giant screen. At the Raintree, it's already celebration time with the five-day `Pongal Thiruvizha' concluding today. For details, contact 28520123.

There's plenty to spice up Pongal at Taj Coromandel too. Southern Spice is bedecked with sugarcane, clay pots et al. Pongal will be celebrated with gusto between January 15 and 21 and the vegetarian spread (lunch and dinner) comprises festive specialities including kaikari mandi, pathiri akki roti, pal payasam and, of course, different types of Pongal.

Taj Fisherman's cove is hosting a special Pongal lunch buffet at Seagull on January 15. The ambience will reflect the mood for there will be clay pots overflowing with Pongal, thoranams, sugarcane and other traditional symbols. For more information contact 28272827/28222827.

It will be a splash of turmeric at Dakshinachitra, Muttukadu. Yellow flowers, yellow sandalwood paste and turmeric... auspicious symbols to mark the Pongal O Pongal fest, which will be held from January 15-19. In sync with the theme, the craft shop at the centre will showcase crafts and textiles in hues of yellow. Besides making the traditional sweet Pongal on January 15 morning, folk dances will be performed throughout the day. Guests can have a go at rustic games such as pot breaking, enjoy bullock cart rides and beat bhogi drums. For details, contact the Madras Craft Foundation at 4462435.

Cake for Pongal? Sounds unusual. But, that's what Sweet Chariot Bakery (Ispahani Center, Nungambakkam) has planned for the festive season. The `Pongal Festival', which is on till January 19, is offering a selection of mouthwatering vegetarian celebration cakes, joy cakes, kid's jungle theme cakes and pastries. Adding to the variety is an assortment of delicacies such as tarts, pies, cookies, buns, burgers and pizzas. For details, dial 28342170/28314133.

At Sagari, Chola Sheraton on Cathedral Road, Pongal O Pongal is on till January 17. Those interested in sampling traditional delicacies from the Southern Peninsula such as nethili varuval, meen pappas, sutta kori, thalapa kattu biriyani, pon palle, ada prathaman and sarkarai pongal, can step in for dinner, which is priced at Rs. 425 plus taxes. Call 28110101 for more information.

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