Saturday, 16 July 2016
Chettinad Food Festival | Peninsula Grand | Saki Naka | Food Review | Elegant Experience
Having loved my visit to Peninsula Grand at Saki Naka with my sister to indulge in some old world charm and scrumptious food, it was thus my lucky day when I got to visit here again with my blogger friends to preview the ongoing Chettinad Food Festival which will be held till 31st of July 2016.
We have this habit of generalization. So all North Indian food is automatically Chicken Tandoori and Kulcha, all South Indian food is automatically Idli and Dosa! Normal human error :) In reality we have such vast complex threads of different cultures, including cuisine. Chettinad Festival is special because it brings home-cooked Chettinad cuisine amidst us, prepared by a family of mother and her two son chefs who have not learnt anything in a culinary school, rather this cuisine comes from their heart,wrapped in their traditional spices and recipes. Howzzat!
The elegant ambiance beckons and the smooth,attentive and super-helpful service soothes the soul. We had the pleasure of tasting some special dishes and each one had that love of a mother's hands, that tinge of experience and that aroma of thousands of years' worth wisdom! This is so much more than the regular Idli-Dosa, trust me. There are in fact more non vegetarian options in this cuisine but the dear folks at Peninsula Grand have made sure vegetarians have more than enough options too :)
Started with Jeera Rasam which was fiery full of spices, I reckon this is really great for cleansing the palate as well as for the digestive system.
Velli Kulam i.e. fried potato wedges sprinkled with generous spices and mixed with coconut shreds is a flavorful appetizer while Iddiyappam with Coconut Milk had softest rice noodle idlis imaginable, a treat in themselves, served alongside really sweet coconut milk which only ardent sweet lovers like me will enjoy.
Podhi Idli is another appetizer everyone would love since the softest mini idlis served with a sprinkling of ghee, pepper, curry leaves and choicest of spices have that magic to appeal to every palate :) I reckon this dish can be sold in those iconic New York food trucks and it has the power to be as popular than Nachos, Burritos et al.
Main course platter consisted of Steamed Rice, Lemon Rice and Veg Kofta (Made of Dall) Curry which was so balanced with spices that it took steamed rice to another level altogether. Lemon Rice is already one of my favorite dishes, as my mom often makes it at home and the taste is just like what I had here, because my mom had learnt the recipe from her neighbor 20 years ago who hailed from Chettinad region :) See what I mean by authenticity? I could have 20 bowls of this Lemon Rice alone (don't worry, I didn't) :D
Payasam is the iconic dessert and it was every bit as lovely as I had imagined it to be with that distinct taste of Gud/Jaggery coming through. Something unique, first timers may find it different from anything they have ever had (mainly because it has that home-cooked feel), but since I have already had this earlier at my own home, I loved it :)
The dishes in Chettinad cuisine are unique so I could see my fellow bloggers pausing a bit after every bite thinking what did they just have, but then the satisfaction of being introduced to a rich cultural heritage through its cuisines shines through and that I think is where the real power of food resides! I recommend unique food experiences because this seems to be the easiest way to travel through different regions and know about them.
Don't go to Chettinad Food Festival thinking it will be just another spread of regular 'South Indian' dishes. Just rest assured you would discover a world of deliciousness that would feel as good as sitting with a grandma from Chettinad region and having delicacies prepared by her lovingly :)
All this at absolute value for money price points! I have said this before and I am saying this again, Peninsula Grand Saki Naka is a fine dine destination with casual dining prices. The old world charm, the authenticity of menu, the superlative service, the quality and quantity of food - everything without burning a hole in our pockets. Now, how can this get any better? :)