Relishing Experience – Andhra Food Festival at Courtyard By Marriott
Traveling places is what I dream to do. But my bank balance always remind me why I can’t do so. In such crisis, Courtyard by Marriott and its festivals provided to be a boon. They recently organized Andhra Food Festival at their Momo café. After hearing this news, what more did I need in this world? I headed to this wonderful festival to have an evening toasted to scrumptious Andhra food.
Once in, the spectacular ambiance grooved my heart. The spacious sitting, bright and soft lights, and the open counters; they are a perfect answer to a wanderlust and curious souls. Seated around a cozy table, I was excited to try out the handpicked and exclusive Andhra dishes made with and under the guidance of Chef Satish Chipra to bring regional taste here so people can get to taste different palate.
Chef Vikas Singh joined and expressed that it was the first time that Marriott had organized a proper Indian food festival. Earlier it used to be a mix of western cuisines or Fusion. The idea was to bring regional taste here, as Andhra is not explored much.
The curated dishes in the buffet changes every day. Making you want to visit this festival every day, I’m sure you would not want to miss this authentic chance. Here’s what I tried:
I was served South’s cooling sorbet – Kokam. A pinch of salt and black pepper was mixed in it, which enhanced the taste and prevented me from gobbling it in one go. The taste was refreshing and a perfect start in such a humid atmosphere.
The soup of the day was Allam Charu/Ginger Rasam (as I found it online). It’s main ingredient was Ginger. The soup is a clear soup made from with lots of ginger; few curry leaves, pieces of garlic, and the regular spices boiled to a perfect consistency of soup. Since it is also famous as Rasam, you can have it with steamed rice too.
A perfect soup to have when you are having sour throat or cold or cough. The flavor of ginger was strong and I could feel a calmness in my throat as without cold too, it did its magic. I am definitely going to try this at home.
The starter consisted of fried chips made from yam and onion fritters. The chips were crisp and spicy. Of course, Andhra food being spicy, I was not expecting any spice missing. The chef's however, being considerate to sweet palate Gujjus have, had kept spice to bare minimum level.
If you’re spice lover, you should at least once try Andhra food in your life.
It was time to dig deeper into Andhra cuisine. First came a platter of four different chutney’s and three pickles. The Chutney’s were made from cabbage, bottle gourd, tomato, and the pickles were made from dry mango, chilies etc. Picking up a favorite from them would be a crime as I loved each one. The flavors were distinctive and disparate from what we eat in North and West.
Next, I had Biryani. It was an excellent and unique combination of rice, lentils, and fried pieces of bread. Those perfectly crisp fried pieces made me curious to try it. I never had such biryani before. Every bite was beautifully wrapped in lentils and spices.
With it, I had, stuffed aubergine/Gutti Vankaya Kura and potato in tomato paste. These are dishes commonly found everywhere but the Andhra taste isn’t one, you can find anywhere. The stuffed aubergine had blended spices with onions, cooked to perfection. Normally, when one is cooking onion in small aubergine the fear of it tasting raw is there. I was glad here, it didn’t happen. The potatoes and tomatoes dish was good and like other Andhra dishes, it was unique in its preparation. The tomatoes were used as more of a base to them then a co-ordination.
I’m talking about south food and there cannot be mention of sambhar, ain’t possible. I had a basic Andhra sambhar along with bitter gourd Dal/Sorakaya Pappu. Yes, bitter gourd dal – it was lovely, thick, and elaborated with spices, neither too much nor less.
Last and of course not the least, I had a sweet dish made from rice and jaggery. I am forgetting the name here, but it was a lovely amalgamation of the ingredients, cooked in milk. Every bite speaks of buoyance. It wasn’t too sweet, making it easy for me to gobble it up. A very delightful way to end my affair with authentic Andhra cuisine.
The highlight of this scrumptious dish was Curd Chili, which is soaked in curd with salt and then dried in sun. It then meets with other spices (if necessary.) A spicy treat indeed.
Thumbs up to Courtyard by Marriott from bringing this regional cuisine to Ahmedabad.