‘Flavors from South’ is truly the culinary experience of the different regions of South India. Grab the chance to taste some authentic South Indian cuisine from the heart of India at this one of a kind food festival from July 18-July 26 at the Four Points by Sheraton, Pune.
Four Points by Shertaon is one of the name brand hotels that have sprung up in Pune in the last decade. Located close to the Phoenix Market City near the airport, it is probably more popular as a business hotel. Their Teppenyaki made waves amongst foodies when it was first introduced. An opportunity to dine at The Eatery, their café restaurant presented itself. I was part of a few invitees who got a preview of the goodies to come.
My love for South Indian Food is well known. Not just Idli or Dosa, I regularly cook and enjoy dishes like Parappu Usli, puliyogare, bisibele bhat, vangi bhat, guthi venkaya, biryani, Charu Rasam and of course different types of sambar. Not bad for a ‘North Indian’, right? 🙂
But I was in for a big surprise as far as the special menu during Flavors from South was concerned. The thought of tasting authentic South Indian delicacies made by skilled specialty Chef Parama Sivam made my mouth water.
The rains played hide and seek all the way from home to the restaurant, making it the perfect time to taste some exotic spicy food. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Refreshed by some watermelon juice, I dove into Makkasolam fry, or baby corn pakoda, fritters of baby corn coated with some rice flour and besan batter. Kalan porichadu, mushrooms deep fried with coconut paste and spices had the Kerala black pepper as a star. Spices lent a warmth to this light appetizer dish that is perfect for the cooler weather we are having now.
There were some meat and seafood dishes for the carnivores. You can read more about them over at MovieRecipe.
Malli Rasam was another fiery and spicy creation that will charm spice lovers. This was slightly thicker than a broth, but delicious anyway. The star ingredient here was kothamalli or coriander, both fresh and dry. This made me miss the Kothamalli pickle I am so fond of but have never seen anywhere in Pune!
The Malabar Paratha was flaky and crunchy and a good choice to dip into the vegetarian curry, Nilagiri kai korma, mixed vegetables in a green sauce. The curry sauce was a blend of fresh roasted coconut, coriander, mint and spices. This curry was one of a kind and I loved it.
Kola Puttu is something that I haven’t tried before. It is a cylindrical roll of ground rice stuffed with coconut which is steamed. This dish is served as a starch and eaten with curry.
Stew and Idiyappams( string hoppers) were presented and these won my heart. This was my first time eating string hoppers and I was impressed by how they held their shape, did not stick together and did not disintegrate or puff up even when soaked in the stew for some time. The stew was so simple but so good!
It is hard to actually not go overboard and present a simply spiced dish that is just right! The Kerala Stew and Idiyappams was the dish of the day for me. The coconut milk was so creamy and so fresh – no wonder, since it is all made from scratch every day, said the chef.
Elaneer payasam or Tender Coconut and milk pudding topped off the day. Most times I think of payasam as ‘kheer’ but this was a dreamy concoction. Thick and creamy milk almost like condensed milk with bits of tender coconut, and a hint of salt to make it all pop – another super simple dish that won my heart.
The festival will showcase dishes from different regions of the South like Tamilnadu, Kerala, Karnatka, Andhra and Chettinad every night. These include coastal as well as inland delicacies.
Some of the dishes coming up are the ever popular Neer Dosa, Appams and Veech Parathas, Udupi Veg Biryani, Urulai Pattani Sadam from Chettinad, Kadala gassi from Karnataka, Valakai masala, Kosh Malli, Walaipoo Vadai, Milakai Bhajji, Mysore Bonda and tons of many more authentic South Indian dishes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian.
One thing I noted was that even though there was abundant use of coconut in many of the dishes, they did not feel heavy. Kudos to the chef for achieving this fine balance in flavors.
People who complain that food in big hotels is bland will not have a chance to say anything here, because this food is fiery at best.
A coconut milk based mocktail, sort of like a virgin pinacolada went well with the food and provided some sweet respite.
All these fantastic South Indian flavors are created by Chef Parama Sivam who specializes in South Indian cuisine. There is so much on offer here, you will want to visit every day of the festival to try something different. The hotel is presenting 70+ different dishes during the course of the festival.
If you are looking to try some different kind of Indian food, especially the kind of South Indian food that you don’t generally see on restaurant menus, you need to get out there, now! Yes, right now, before July 26th!
Thanks to the Four Points Sheraton Pune for inviting me and making this post possible.