A tastefully designed menu and an amalgamation of perfectly flavoured South Indian food awaits foodies at the South Indies’s Chettinad Food Festival
Though an absolute foodie, I am not particularly fond of South India food. My perception was always limited to it being limited in taste and variety, especially for the vegetarian lot. I was recently notified of South Indies’ Chettinad Food Festival in Pune and decided to give it a try.
Never having eaten authentic Chettinad food, I was concerned about what would unfold on the table. I chose to dine at the restaurant with my sister, a local Puneite, who promised me the food would be good. The food fest is very reasonably priced – Rs 554 per head on weekends and Rs 421 for lunch on weekdays.
We reached the restaurant, located at Ganesh Kind Road, Shivaji Nagar, Pune at around 8:30pm on a Sunday. While food marks for a majority of a restaurant’s ranking, but so does its interiors. I was pleasantly surprised to see a neat, informal yet classy set-up of the restaurant, contrary to the stereotypical image I had of a South Indian restaurant.
I was surprised to see the restaurant full, a sign that the food they served was fantastic. We quickly grabbed a table by the window, and even before we could settle down, we were greeted by the staff.
Chettinad food is considered one of the toughest to cook, thanks to the variety of flavours and ingredients it uses to create a dish. Soon as we confirmed to try the Chettinad buffet, we were served a glass of Rasam, a South Indian soup that is made of tamarind pulp, tomatoes and spices along with fried papad, coconut and green chutni, and steamed corn tossed with grated coconut and spices. The perfectly spiced Rasam kicked my taste buds and the steamed corn and papad balanced the taste beautifully.
Next, we were served a platter of starters that comprised of Sevagai Podi Paneer, a delicacy made of homemade cottage cheese, wrapped in rice strings crisp fried, Paccha Payir Paniyaram, crisp dumplings made of green Moong Daal, Podi Tossed Idlis, tossed in spicy chutney podi, better known as gun powder, Jackfruit Porichathu, made of ripe jackfruit dipped in rice batter and crisp fried and Mushroom Chettinad, a dish tossed dry, authentic Chettiyar spices.
I loved how each of them was served warm and freshly made on the table, saving guests the time and inconvenience of repeatedly walking to the food counter. Coming to the food, I loved every bit of what was dished up. What I really appreciated about the starter menu was that each dish tasted different, there was no overlap of taste and this allowed me to relish all the starters served. The paneer was neatly prepared – minimal spices, cooked to perfection and though the dish was fried, did not taste of the oil. The rice dumplings were beautifully served in a paniyaram pan, which made it look more appetizing. I paired this with the Rasam they served and this again, was a delight to my taste buds…