Chettinad Food Festival – Lake View Restaurant, Renaissance – Food Review

Who wouldn’t want a little spice and aroma in their lives, I am sure everyone would. So, when you get this spice and aroma in abundance, it wouldn’t be too out of context to say that our life is bliss.


At least, it surely isn’t when it comes to food, as I experienced palatial bliss tasting perhaps India’s spiciest and most aromatic cuisine at the Chettinad Food Festival at Lake View Restaurant of the Renaissance Hotel, Powai, Mumbai.
Chettinad is in general associated with the Chettiars but let me mention that there is actually a place too by this name. Chettinad is a small village in the southern Tamil Nadu state, with surely the Chettiar community, a pre-dominantly trading community, being a massive majority in this village.
Chettiar food is an absolute feast for the gourmet and one of the most phenomenal South Indian cuisines and so goes the famous saying in South India, “One is lucky if he gets to eat like a Chettiar”.

 
 
 

The exquisite spread was so elaborate that it was enough and more to feed a King’s army and I surely felt like a King testing my palate with each one of them.

 

There are some days where I feel happy that I am a non-vegetarian and when I go for such gorgeous meals, it is one of those days. It gives me an opportunity to taste both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare on offer and here too I did, and found them to be beyond words of explanation.
So, for a change, I prefer to talk less in a food review and rather give my readers more of a visual treat of this mesmerising cuisine.


In the non-vegetarian course, I started off tasting the Venkai Kozhi Kootu, which was chicken cooked with Madras onions giving it that perfect South Indian Aroma.

I moved on to Mutton Chettinad, lamb cooked with an abundance of coconut, something South Indians love to relish and tempered with all the southern spices.

Shifting the taste to a lesser spicy variety, I went for the Meen Pal Kolambu, which was boneless fish pieces cooked in coconut milk and onion. The fish just melted in my mouth and the slightly sweet taste of coconut milk gave it the perfect taste.

Era Pulli Curry, was absolutely tangy, the Prawns cooked with tamarind for that tanginess, milk and onion.

There were amazing stuff in the vegetarian course too and so I didn’t give it a miss starting off with Eana Katrikai Masala, which was baby brinjals fried and cooked with onion and tomato, an amazing blend of spicy and tangy.

The Vendakai Puriyal was something which I could go for anytime, the ladyfinger tempered with coconut and curry leaves.

Curd based gravies are quite popular among the South Indians but this Mattangai Moru Kolambu had a distinct style, the red pumpkin giving that slight sweetish taste cooked in yoghurt and coconut paste.

I haven’t got to eat much of paneer whenever I have travelled south and so this Palkatti Chettinad was a pleasant surprise, which was cottage cheese cooked in southern spices.

All this and more had to go down my throat with the assortment of rice and bread variants and there were two of them which distinctly stood out for mention, the first one being the Chettinad Kozhi Biryani, which was rice cooked with chicken and southern spices.

A total spin-off, in the vegetarian variant, I loved the tanginess of the Pulli Sadam, rice cooked in tamarind pulp.

The rice would go well with dal and so I tried out the Takkali Parippu, which was lentil cooked with tomato and tempered with curry leaves. 
 
 
 
 
 

Of course, for accompaniment, there were the normal home-made Chappatis, the Steamed Rice, the Dosas and Uttappams and surely not to be missed, the Appam and lots of Papad too.

The soups too were an absolute gastronomical delight, the first one I tasted being the Erachi Charu, the mutton broth, spiciest to the hilt and amazingly tasty.

In the vegetarian variety, it was the Takkali Pepper Rasam, which was Tomato Soup tempered with lots and lots of pepper.
I cannot end this journey of mine to the Chettiar land without the mention of the two special dishes, the Chef’s choice for the day, and so I wouldn’t be doing justice to this review unless I explain a bit in detail about them.
 


The Kuthu Paratha, is a unique preparation, where the Malabari Paratha made with refined flour is broken into pieces and added with the coconut based vegetable stew and mixed with onion, tomato and capsicum on a tawa. The taste was absolutely amazing though I suggested to the Chef that I would have loved to have tasted in a chicken stew, which I felt would have been an even better combination.
 


I suggested chicken to the Chef and there he took me to his other signature dish for the day, the Kozhi Malligai, which was an absolute delight. This was a preparation of boneless chicken deep fried and tossed in a thick paste of green chilly, ginger and garlic, with coriander and coconut and then wrapped in a banana leaf.

I should not forget to mention the Vazhakai Varial, a dry preparation of raw banana and the Kozhi Mulakai, fried chicken pieces with green chilly, perhaps the south Indian variant of the more famed Chinese dish.

For all those who prefer a little lesser spice and aroma in their lives and palates, there were a variety of options too in the regular cuisine.
 

                                        

The vegetable in tomato basil sauce, the oven roasted herb vegetables and vegetable in light garlic sauce in the vegetarian varieties and grilled fish in creamy pesto sauce, roasted chicken in thyme juice and the chicken in schezwan sauce were amazing too to go with an assortment of freshly baked bread and rolls which included Masala Bread, Chilly Flake Soft Rolls, Fresh Bread, Brown Soft Rolls, Rye Bread, Multigrain Slices, Olive Focaccia and Jeera Soft Rolls. 

 
The Chettinad food festival surely presents the specific colourful flavours of Chettinad with Chef Leneesh Bhuvanachandran specially brought in from Hotel JW Mariott, Sahar who weaved the magic of Chettinad cuisine to perfection and left my taste buds mesmerised and longing to return for more.
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