An affair with local food

Step into the Marriott for a whiff of Tamil Nadu’s street food and local favourites

May 03, 2018 04:19 pm | Updated 04:19 pm IST

Tamil staples A treat for the senses

Tamil staples A treat for the senses

A bright yellow board welcomes me to Kovai Kitchen at Fairfield by Marriott. Two miles stones are placed at either side of the board and it reads Dindugal 152 km and Madurai 213 Km respectively. Waiters are clad in veshti and shirt and there is a live counter serving kari dosa, mutta kalakki, and idiyappam. I am here for the Tamil Food Festival called Namma Ooru Sappadu and the place has a warm and friendly air to it. Every table bears a small flag with the names of cities from the state. I seat myself on the table that has a flag bearing the name of Thiruvarur 336 km.

My stomach rumbles at the sight of the buffet but before that I am served with a cool Madurai jigerthanda in a clay pot. It is sweet and creamy with a hint of strawberry flavour. The aroma of spices from the live counter can’t be ignored any more and I order a kari dosa, and mutta kalakki. Kari dosa is mildly spicy, soft and goes well with the coconut and tomato chutney served with it. The gooey kalakki is soft and its consistency perfect with small pieces of onion and a punch of pepper. “Kari dosa has chicken or mutton gravy added to it. So I serve it with coconut and tomato chutney to balance the spiciness. These are dishes that we normally find as street food. I learnt it from people who run thattu kadais around the state.” says Somasundaram Gopalakrishnan, Executive Chef of Courtyard by Marriot, Madurai.

Making kari dosa

Making kari dosa

For the main course, I choose Dindugal biriyani, kozhi rava fry, eral masala, cauliflower dhakshin and urulai podimas. Dindugal biriyani is not too spicy and perfect for my taste. The chicken is soft and flavours of cashew, pepper and onion blend well with the rice. “Dindugal biriyani uses jeera samba rice instead of basmati and green chilli instead of chilly powder. It adds to its unique taste” explains Goplalakrishnan. The outer rava layer of the brown rava kozhi fry makes it crisp on the outside and juicy inside.

The semi gravy eral masala is orange and tangy. “ It has a lot of tomatoes and onion and tastes best with plain steamed rice.”, recommends Gopalakrishnan. Slightly green, the cauliflower dhakshin has a strong flavour of coriander and is deep fried. I like the urulai podimas for its seasoning with coconut oil, mustard, curry leaf and urad dal. “We have used only coconut, gingelly and sun flower oil. It is what we used traditionally.”

Dishes at the festival

Dishes at the festival

I end my dinner with nungu payasam and vellam olai pakoda. The payasam with small bits of nungu in it reminds me of elaneer payasam. Vellam olai pakoda is crisp and with the unmistakable taste of jaggery. It is pouring outside and I enjoy my ride back home on the scooter, after the delicious meal.

Info you can use

Till May 6

Dinner buffet between 7.30 pm to 11.00 pm

At ₹599 excluding taxes

@ Fairfield by Marriott, 469/2B, Airport Road, TNHB Colony, Civil Aerodrome Post

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