Catering students revive a treasure trove of traditional recipes

Tribal cuisine was a clear winner at Flavours 2007. And, students from Cenney's Institute of Hotel Management in Salem hogged the limelight for coming out with this surprise menu at the two-day national level catering competition organised by the School of Hotel Management and Catering, VLB Janakiammal College of Arts and Science.They retained the traditional preparations, yet introduced a lot of innovation. Nadodi moongil biriyani was a fine example. It is a simple preparation of rice with Indian masalas but the way of cooking made all the difference.

Tribal treasure

Vana paanam (tender coconut water with a dash of ginger, garlic and honey) and paal paanagam (desiccated coconut cooked and served with flavoured milk) were other innovations. The menu card `Tribal Teasure' prepared by Ajith Kumar and M. Paulraj from Cenney's caught the attention of other students and the judges too."We learnt a lot of new recipes in Continental and Indian cuisine. Some students named the dishes after the places of origin, like Cumbum urundai.The exposure will come in handy when we take up jobs in kitchen production later," they add.

Grooming session

For students C.M. Dinesh Kumar and K. Rajesh Kumar from PSG College of Arts and Science, the event was a grooming exercise. They prepared canopy mayonnaise (toast bread preparation with mayonnaise) and lemon and apple soufflé in continental cuisine.Other dishes on display included carrot and coconut milk soup, gongura pickle and banana payasam of Andhra Pradesh, bean usili of Chettinad and thorans and kootu curry of Kerala. The event brought together catering students from 22 colleges in the Southern region."We wanted to have a good mix of academics and entertainment," says Ajeet Kumar Lal Mohan, department head, VLB. So, the chef competition, menu compilation, bar flair, flower arrangement and quiz were followed by group dance and Mr and Miss Hospitality. "Some of the students revived 40-year-old traditional recipes with a twist of innovation. From them, we learnt that bamboo stem is a good replacement for the chimney. In bartending, one of the students brought in the ambience of a beachside party by giving attention to details such as his dressing apart from the cocktails and mocktails," he adds.Sant Kumar Singh, corporate chef of Apollo Hospitals, one of the judges, said opportunities were aplenty for catering students in cruise liners, airlines, hotel industry, event management and tours and travels.

Get innovative

"Innovation, aesthetics, communication skills and leadership qualities are important to climb the ladder in the catering industry. For instance, the students used new themes in floral arrangement. And, I happily sipped vana paanam using a straw made from lotus stem. Such innovative thinking is vital," he adds.K. JESHI