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    From sorbets to martinis, here’s a spread of  sugarcane-inspired creations that you don’t have to chew on

    The streets of Chennai are going to be rampant with sugarcane this Pongal weekend. But it won’t just be a decor theme. Inspired by this harvest festival staple, chefs and mixologists around the city have experimented with cane concoctions that blend in everything from rum to liquid nitrogen. Granted, we won’t have to sweet talk you into this one.

    Sakkarai Pongal Martini?

    Rum and sugarcane juice are not a concoction you would imagine on most weekends. Except perhaps, when Pongal rolls around. Mixologists at The Park have made cane-inspired cocktail experiments with a range of spirits something of a tradition over the last couple of years. Definitely try their Sakkarai Pongal Martini or the tequila buzzing Jallikattu. At Leather Bar, The Park between January 13 to 20. Rs 300 plus taxes. Details: 42676000

    dessert2Ginger and ice

    This dessert has both sugar and spice. Get the scoop on this — ice cream made with sugarcane juice, infusions of ginger and chillies and fresh cream. To top it off, there’s a liquid nitrogen whip at the end. Who said chemistry is more about hot than cold? At Madras,The Raintree, Anna Salai as part of the Pongal thali priced at Rs 850 plus taxes. Between January 13 and 15. Details: 43939999

    kheer
    Grains of paradise

    You probably never considered using sugarcane as a flavouring agent in a hot pot. The chefs at Spice Haat whip up an epic ‘Brown Rice and Gur ki Kheer’ by flavouring the water and rice with — you guessed it — sugarcane juice. Add to the mix a hit of green cardamom powder and some melted jaggery and we’ve got a winner. At Spice Haat, Hyatt Regency Chennai on the buffet spread. Details: 61001234

    Sorbet satisfaction

    If you need a refresher in the middle of the day, be sure to get a taste of this sorbet. Christened the ‘Maplai Karumbu Chaaru’ — everything that’s good for you seems to be stirred in here.Think honey, lemon, sugarcane juice and a dash of ginger. Now that we’re wellness tripping, did you know that sugarcane also comes with anti-ageing benefits? Complimentary at Maplai, Sterling Avenue, Nungambakkam for the Pongal weekend. Details: 30853636

    By Sonali Shenoy

    Chef Secretsdamu

    Chef Damu’s first ever dish was Semiya Upma. He was 10. Fast forward to running close to four decades in the kitchen — the celebrity chef has expanded his sights to culinary challenges of ‘massive’ proportions. Like a 15,000 kilo curry that he whipped up in Singapore or a crazy long 48.2 feet dosa that fed Madurai residents for hours. It’s little wonder that he has such a mass following on television or is a three-time Guiness record holder. After 26 books and over 5,000 recipes, this legend in the kitchen takes a detour from his usual traditional classics to plate up Sakkarai Pongal with a contemporary spin. Also, in case you’re wondering what giant idea he’s got brewing at the moment — try a 200 kilo idli for size.

    Strawberry Chocolate Pongalpongal

    Ingredients
    Raw rice 300 gms
    Moong dal 150 gms
    Jaggery 250 gms
    Ghee 50 gms
    Dried grapes 150 gms
    Cashew nuts 150 gms
    Starwberry (fresh) 200 gms
    Chocolate syrup 250 ml
    Fresh cream 100 ml
    Chocolate chips 100 gms
    Chocolate essence few drops

    Method
    ■ Pressure cook together with pre-soaked soaked rice and moong dal (Soaking time for both: 15 minutes)
    ■ Then add water (Quantity of water is 1: 3) Cook till it becomes soft
    ■ Allow to cook in the cooker for five whistles and then put on simmer for another five minutes
    ■ Release the pressure and add milk. Mix well without removing from fire. Keep the flame on simmer mode
    ■ Powder the jaggery and prepare a syrup blend with chocolate syrup
    ■ Add fresh cream and stir. Add blended strawberry and mix well
    ■ Add this mixture to the cooked rice and dal
    ■ Garnish with chocolate chips and strawberry slices
    ■ Place a kadai on the fire. Pour ghee and sauté the cashew nuts and dried grapes till they turn a golden brown
    ■ Add to the Strawberry Pongal
    ■ Serve hot with crispy onion vadai

     

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