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The Westin Hyderabad is offering Chettinad delicacies as part of its ongoing food festival

Gentle fire. This is what Chettinad cuisine offers with generous use of spices in its dishes that do not send your taste buds on a fiery trail, but leave a subtle heat in your mouth which is both enjoyable and comforting. This arid region of Tamil Nadu offers varieties of delights gently cooked with black pepper and star anise as the most used condiments. At the restaurant Seasonal Taste, The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace, the tastes of the region are being celebrated as ‘Taste of Chettinad Food Festival,’ which is on till February 12.

For the festival, chef Jagadeesh from The Westin Chennai Velachery is teaming up with chef Mukesh Sharma to put together the spread. The dishes are cooked with spices like peppercorn, cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamom, nutmeg, green and red chilies, coriander, cumin, and fenugreek seeds. As a result dishes like Kootyur Kari Chor, flavoured Chettinad mutton biryani, are mildly hot in taste while the flavour lingers long after we finish eating the same. It is a welcome change from the regular
Hyderabadi biryani. We combine the fluffy-fragrant rice of the biryani with Kozhi Malli Varuval, chicken marinated with fresh coriander paste, green chillis and is grilled. The taste, we say with certitude, is wonderful, and lingering.

Traditionally, the spices are ground on grinding stones, lending them a unique texture and flavour. Adds chef Jagadeesh, “‘Marathi Moggu’, dried flower pods of Red Silk Cotton Tree, is another famous spice used in the Chettinad region. The taste it lends to the dish is slightly hot much like black pepper, but unique in its own way.” Among the list of other dishes on offer, we try Vendai Rasam, spicy okra in lentil broth, tempered with garlic. There is no stickiness that the vegetable is notorious for. I feel relaxed as we finish with desserts from the region such as Paruppu Shuyam, fried dumplings of Bengal grams and jaggery cooked in a milky mixture which appears to be like rasmalai. The Sakkarai Pongal, a sweet mixture of lentils, rice, jaggery combined with the richness of nuts, is my kind of dessert. It was a delight with a distinct flavour of the lentils.

Price per head: for dinner Rs 1,726 all inclusive; Timing: 7 pm –11 pm. Details: 67676767
— Saima Afreen

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