When one of the finest Hotels of the country invites you to experience its one of the finest cuisine in the presence of maestro Chefs especially flown from south India hub- Chennai, think you can ever say no?
Neither did we. Having lived in Chennai, the good old Madras for some years, South Indian Cuisine is quite a favorite. If you combine its rich preparations with spicy punches of Chettinad and flavors from the coastal heartlands, you are inspired for some good gastronomic pleasure.
ITC Grand Maratha, located at Andheri Sahar, Mumbai was hosting a fest surrounding the "Coastal Cuisine" from Southern India at its flagship Dakshin coastal. Chef Sundar from ITC Chennai had flown in to stir some magical taste for a special feast, including a bloggers table. To know more about Dakshin Coastal at ITC grand Maratha, do visit- page
Here's the exclusive bloggers table that was set for the 8 of us. On arrival, we were welcomed with the glass of warm, soothing Rasam and applam baskets. It came in two variant-
Takkali Rasam - Tempered extracts of Lentils, Tomatoes and Tamarind
Kozhi Rasam- Tempered extracts of Lentils, Tomatoes with Chicken and Tamarind
The Rasam and Appalam is one of my favorite Starters for a mild evening and really loved the balance tangy- spicy concoction. The menu was set by the chef in advance, and look nonetheless interesting.
|Chef Sundar Talking about South Indian Cuisine|
Before we proceed, let us have a quick brief about the cuisine.
About Chettinad Cuisine- Chettinad Cuisine is one of the spiciest and the most aromatic cuisine from the Chettinad, the southern part of Tamil Nadu. A region famous for its hospitality and food. It is famous for the variety of spices it uses like Fennel, Red Chilli, Star Anise [for aroma], Lichen etc, especially for non-vegetarian food. Most of the dishes are eaten with rice or rice based accompaniments like- Appams, Dosais and idlis.
Haute Kutir Experience at Dakshin, ITC
The dinner was planned in three segments-
Arambham [The start] or say starters.
Bhojnam [Dining] or Main Course
Maduram [Sweets] or Dessert
The detailed menu can be seen here-
The thali was set with a traditional banana leaf along with necessary cutleries. The place smelled neutral devoid of any strong smell of non-veg food [in the interest of vegans]. Here's few glimpses-
|Starters that not just looked wow but tasted great too.|
If you were not enticed enough from the way the thalis are set [read with banana leaf], you would have drowned yourself in Rasam [ A lentil, tomato soup] that not just wonders to your tongue and shaken spirits but, is a good appetizer that helps in digestion and sometimes it soothes sore throat. Frankly, many places offer rasam but very few could perfect them. For us, this was awesome.
Given my love for Appalams [ Did I tell you that I was fondly called Poppadum by some of my high school mates?], I could have finished the entire dinner with mere Rasam, Appalams and Vazhappo Vadai with those finger licking chutneys. Yes, there were four variants of them and I just loved them. I am more of a chutney person than Sambhar ever. Wherein a lot of times, the chutneys decide the value of a restaurant or efficiency of its south Indian cuisine. Dakshin nailed that quite well.
The starters were good except for the Deep Fried Baby Corn that played 5th fiddle to Iyer's trolley and the vadai.
Since the main course took some time to serve, we took a quick view and visit of the cooking area including the live cooking station for Appams.
The kitchen looked clean and well arranged. Now we cannot wait for the main course further and gorged ourselves with another round of Appalam love.
The main course was good and the Katrikai kotu, eggplant cooked with lentils and spices, was the star of the show for me. My friend loved the lobster cooked in Coconut and onion mix.
If you are a Kadhi lover, must try- Okra simmered in tempered butter-milk. I could have eaten them happily with even steam rice. Like I mentioned, Chettinad food is often served with a rice based accompaniment, we were served thin Appams, parotha and tomato rice. The appam were soft and went well with the spicy vegetables. However, the tomato rice could have been better.
Overall the main course was delectable and the spices were toned to suit the palate of different guests especially the foreigners.
A meal or any hospitality is never complete without a dessert. Well, we tried two different desserts including- Basundi [Saffron flavored milk reduction] and Pacha Payire Payasam [Green Lentil cooked in sweetened milk].
The best part about them was the balance of sweet. They were neither too sugary nor very heavy considering you had just finished a heavy, spicy meal full of rice and coconut. A perfect way to end the meal. In addition, there was Pan [Betel] just in case you want.
Haute Kutir Verdict- Being a fan of South Indian cuisine, it was a good gourmand fare. The menu is indeed vast and keeps on changing so as to avoid monotony. The ambiance was subtle, quiet and an absolute delight for your family and business dinner alike. If you are a fan of Coastal or south Indian Cuisine, this is indeed a great option in the city. Even if, south Indian cuisine meant only Idli, Dosa and Uthappam for you, you must try Dakshin at ITC Maratha to explore your taste for South Indian cuisine further. The meals are available as La carte and group buffet too. Except for the price that is 3k per pax which is Veg or Non-veg, which we found on a little higher side, the coastal fare was indeed brilliant for us.
Our verdict is that if you love eating but not have tried much of this cuisine, you must give a try and treat your taste buds with the colorful coastal cuisine from Chettinad at Dakshin, ITC Grand Maratha, Mumbai.
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