CHEF Mohammed Mustafa is on a mission. The idea behind his Namma Veedu food festival at Shenbaga Hotel is an attempt to remind people about how far they have strayed from the authentic cuisine of South India, specifically Chettinad cuisine. The hotel and convention centre is hosting the 16-day food festival with promises of traditional dinners with authentic home style staples on the menu. “Most of our dishes are inspired from the coastal regions of Tamil Nadu and are baked or grilled, which is definitely on the healthier side. We source the ingredients from nattu marundhu kadai (Ayurvedic stores) in Pondicherry or grind the spices ourselves,”explains the Kadalur- based chef who has worked previously with Le Meridien and the MGM group.
On the seventh floor of Shenbaga Hotel, Sea view restaurant claims to be the tallest floor in Pondy. We are greeted with a traditional set up of a Chettinad home and courtyard festooned with leaves.Welcomed with a refreshing Elaneer soda (tender coconut soda) and Ragi paniyaram (dumplings made of ragi and spices) we munch on slices of Meen Varuval (spiced fried fish) as starters. Next up, Mustafa plies us with the main course – fresh and piping from live counters – with our favourites being Erachi kola urundai thooku (Mutton meat balls in spices), Vetrilai Poondu Saadam (Betel leaf and garlic rice) and thulasi chappathi (rotis infused with holy basil leaves). “Contrary to Chettinad food, we have gone easy on the chilli, and the dishes are often steamed, boiled or sauteed,’’ says Shankar Rao. From July 10, priced at `495. 9597084996
Pics : Pattabi Raman