Event The Hindu MetroPlus Cookery Contest 2013 brought together gourmet cooking and healthy nutrition. P. Sujatha Varma has more details

It was a fare that impressed the most discerning foodie. The participants proved that cooking is not just about recipes, it is also about how ingredients are blended to make them look and taste good.

Recipes are road maps to show how someone else got there, but one of the joys of cooking is to find your own path. Knowing these techniques is like taking the car out for a spin in a new location. You’re not sure where you are going to end up, but getting there will be fun.

“The participants have moved to a higher-level of innovation. It was tougher to judge the dishes this year going by the exemplary innovative streak displayed in the dishes. The women here have grown more creative and have learnt new techniques that have added to their culinary skills,” said Brijesh Thakur, Executive Chef of Hotel D.V. Manor, who was on the panel of judges.

Bringing in a new principle of ‘gourmet nutrition’, the contestants created dishes that both tasted great and were healthy. Idly manchuria and multi-grain laddu were some of the dishes prepared this way. .

Traditionally, the worlds of gourmet cooking and healthy nutrition have been at odds. The gourmands have sacrificed all (including, sometimes, nutritional value) at the altar of flavour and the “artistic presentation of food.”

On their part, nutritionists have sacrificed all (including flavour) at the altar of physiology and nutritional value. But this cookery contest saw a happy reconciliation of both.

The smorgasbord comprised boiled, steamed, roasted, stir-fried and sauted stuff which had been tossed, hurled, twisted, rubbed and flung before reaching the plate. Seated in parallel rows, the women discussed recipes involving baking, braising, frying, roasting, poaching, steaming and stewing.

There were cakes, chocolates, brownies, pasta and low-salt, egg-free, dairy-free and gluten-free delights besides other options such as meat-free and vegetarian fare. There was something for everybody who visited the place that had transformed into a gourmand’s delight.

The participants were divided in vegetarian, non-vegetarian and desserts/sweets categories. Besides rewarding the three best dishes, three best participants in each of the categories were also given prizes.

Sk Razia, a medico, was crowned as the Cookery Queen of Vijayawada by former Mayor M.V. Ratna Bindu in a valedictory session of the event. Poonam B. Raj was the first runner-up while L. Satyavani was the second runner-up.

Razia dished out a lip-smacking Nawabi Kheema Mirch, Poonam, a housewife, impressed the panel of judges with her delectable ‘Chin-Chenai idly Manchuria’ while L. Satyavani, also a housewife, made milky balls.

In the vegetarian category, V. Yasoda, Rekha Sawlani and Poonam B. Raj came first, second and third respectively. In the non-vegetarian category, Sk. Razia was adjudged the best, P. Jyothi the second best and Rekha Prabhu the third best.

In the dessert/sweet category, Mohsina Salam dished out a delicious tender coconut pudding and bagged the first prize, S. Srilatha’s apricot dessert got her the second prize and milky balls rolled up by L. Satyavani secured the third position for her.

Brijesh Thakur and Somnath Day, Executive Chefs of Hotel D.V. Manor and The Gateway Hotel respectively and Jeevan Prakash and Babu Rao, HoD, Food Production department and senior faculty in Westin College of Hotel Management respectively were on the panel of judges.

The event was organised in association with Freedom Refined Sunflower Oil, Red FM 93.5 was the radio partner, Hotel D.V. Manor the hospitality partner and Samana Institute of Fashion Technology, MBS Jewellers, FabIndia multi-brand fabric, Tantrah spa, Teja Housing Estates and Goli Silks were other regional sponsors.