The Cubbon Pavilion restaurant in ITC Gardenia is hosting a special food event (from February 26th to March 6th) showcasing the food of Southern Tamil Nadu that has absorbed the Sinhalese culinary techniques and ingredients.
I’m increasingly prone to eating simply these days, so when I got an invite to try South-Indian/Sinhalese food, I was quite happy to give my tummy and digestion a break, and have something different from the usual pizza and pasta offerings at various dining events.
The menu and recipes were planned and curated by Priya Bala, the renowned food writer and chef, who loves exotic dishes, but is also a fan of well-prepared homegrown, simple, and wholesome food. And true to her mantra – the menu offered to us was simple, true to the locales, and just note-perfect for the mood I was in.
For starters, we sampled the ladies finger sambol – crisp slivers of okra (ladies finger) with onion and tomatoes, and drizzled with lime. It made a tangy start to the meal and was perfectly paired with the ITC Gardenia special cocktail – a vodka with a paan base.
If you make a visit and are eating Indian food, do demand this drink to go with it. It’s amazing, unusual, and quite possibly one of the best cocktails I have ever sipped on (mind you, only with Indian food though).
For the non-vegetarians, there were dishes of fish cutlets and devilled chicken.
The fish cutlets were more like balls with a fish and potato mixture, some flour then slapped on, and deep-fried. K liked these a lot although some other bloggers felt that the fish flavor was a little diluted. The devilled chicken was a hot favorite and disappeared in no time.
The Main Course
We then went on to the main course, which consisted of some traditional old favorites – chicken curry, brinjal moju, and a pineapple curry that was served along with rice.
Along with the main course, I tried a second drink – a Bourbon this time – Jim Beam with orange juice, subtly spiced with a little cinnamon.
The Bourbon was nice and smooth, and I enjoyed it just as much as the vodka cocktail (jeez! when did I start to enjoy whiskey?). It also went perfectly with the main course.
Brinjal is not my favorite vegetable and I avoid it when I can. But here in this dish, it was first-class, and was easily my favorite of the day. Perfectly spicy, it was a wonderful foil when paired with the yellow rice cooked in coconut milk. The pineapple curry was great too – sweet and spicy all at the same time, and again just perfect eaten with the rice.
The cashew curry was interesting. It was made using fresh tender cashews from Sri Lanka that was marinated in its sauce. I liked it all right, but it was mixed in with peas, and the combination of cashew, coconut, and peas didn’t work all that well with the rice and I ate it separately almost like a starter.
The Sweet Stuff
The dessert really hit my sweet spot. I grew up eating curds and sugar after every meal, and imagine to my surprise when curds and treacle was offered. All the sweetest memories from my childhood came rushing back to me.
I was perfectly satisfied purring like a cat after my curd and treacle dessert, but when the chef invited me to take a round of the buffet and see if anything else on the regular menu tempted me, I couldn’t say no.
I came back from my rounds with platefuls of these goodies.
Gluttony is a bad thing! I really should have stopped with the curds. The thing is after eating a nice traditional well-balanced South Indian meal, I was feeling nice and light. After overdosing on the sweet stuff, I felt uncomfortably stuffed.
This feeling only reminded me how well our meal was curated with just the right balance of veg and non-veg options, and leaving me full but not unpleasantly so.
Other Dining Options for This Fest
In my review, I am covering only the dishes that were served for our meal. However, there is a lot of variation in the meals being offered throughout this festival – think prawn vadai, red fish curry, and so much more – perfect for a fish lover, but with also plenty of pure veg options. I do wish I had got to sample the raw banana curry that was mentioned on the menu. It’s one of my all-time favorite comfort foods!
From the foods we tried, I highly recommend the ladies finger sambol, the brinjal moju, and the pineapple curry with yellow rice. From the non-vegetarian menu, K loved the fish cutlets, the devilled chicken, and the chicken curry.
Overall, great food with a homegrown touch and flavor, which we highly appreciated!
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Bangalore 560 025
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