On a culinary trip to Chettinad

Savour the flavours of Chettinad at Café Jade, Hycinth by Sparsa

Of all the cuisines from South India, the dishes from Chettinad stand a class apart, for its unique taste marked by balanced spices and exquisite aroma. The cuisine, which hails from the kitchens of the Chettiyar community residing in the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu, is also known for the use of fresh ground masalas, along with dried meats like chicken, lamb, fish, crab and prawns. The ongoing Chettinad Food Festival at the Café Jade restaurant, in Hycinth by Sparsa at Thampanoor, is a veritable celebration of this unique cuisine from Chettinad.

“We have done our best to pull all stops to ensure that the citizens of the city get a taste of the unique dishes from Chettinad,” says Santosh Kumar Sinha, Assistant Food and Beverage Manager, Hycinth by Sparsa. “The food is served in a buffet format and also features a wide range of sweets and salads in addition to the regular fare,” he adds.

The fete offers a host of traditional dishes – both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. From South Indian delicacies like dosas, idiyappam, idlis and curd rice to chicken, lamb and crab delicacies, the array of dishes leaves the home-grown gourmand spoilt for choice.

Café Jade is decked-up for the occasion, with spices on display and earthen pots used in the live counters. The friendly staff don traditional attire to add to the authentic ‘Chettinad’ feel.

My wife and I start our dinner with a ‘Sukku Panagam’ – a traditional Chettinad drink. Prepared using dry ginger powder, jaggery and tamarind, the drink was memorable for its unique flavour, providing us a refreshing start to our meal.

The Soppu Kozhi (starter) and Karuveppilai Podi Sadam (rice) were the next on our list. ‘Soppu Kozhi’ – a dry chicken dish prepared using garam masala and crushed leaves turned out to be our pick of the day. Each piece of chicken was succulent, and offered a unique flavour thanks to the masala as well as the leaves (soppu). The Karuveppilai Podi Sadam proved to be a neat combination when tasted along with the Soppu Kozhi. The presence of Karuveppilai (curry leaves) in the rice lent the dish added flavour.

Since both of us are biriyani lovers, our next choice was the ‘Kozhi Kaima Urunda Biriyani’ – an interesting dum biriyani. Instead of chicken pieces, chicken dumplings were used to prepare the biriyani, along with a unique biriyani masala and spices. Like the Soppu Kozhi and the Karuveppilai Podi Sadam, the biriyani too offered an entirely different flavour. And I must admit, it was quite satiating too!

We could not resist a few extra helpings of the starters and the main course. Unfortunately, this left us too full for the dessert. Nevertheless, we did give the Karupatti Halwa a try – only to disrupt our diet plans by going for an extra piece each! Manikantan, the chef saved us from the guilt though as he lists the many health benefits of Karupatti (the jaggery used to prepare the halwa).

A sweet conclusion to a unique culinary experience, indeed!

The fete is on till January 31. Time: 7.30 p.m. onwards. Contact: 3312 999 or 9400000736.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 3:39:12 PM |

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