Unlike Chetan Bhagat’s 2 States, the coming together of North and South India at Soaltee Crowne Plaza’s Kakori was smooth sailing, not to forget, absolutely delicious as well.
North Indian cuisine has been on the menu of Kakori for a long time now. But for three weeks from 18 July, the restaurant will be dishing out scrumptious Southern cookery alongside the usual menu. This time period is dedicated to the Uttar Dakshin Food Festival, a celebration of the cuisine of North and South India. In fact, it is not only the menu that has gone through a facelift, the rest of the restaurant, including the livery of the waiting staff and the opulence of the eatery, has a touch of the aforementioned Indian states as well. I particularly liked the menu card, which has been designed to resemble a banana leaf.
As for the food, the menu is vast, even tilting towards the confusing, but the staff is there to walk you through it. I decided to go with South Indian cuisine, first ordering a Sea Food Thenga Pal Soup, a peppery seafood broth with tender coconut cream. The dish was tame, with nothing more than shreds of coconut frolicking in it and a few chunks of unseasoned prawns drowning. My palate could be blamed for my distaste for the dish but the fact that I left the bowl half full, something that is quite uncharacteristic of me, says a lot about my experience.
However, I did enjoy the main course. Not only did it look mighty gorgeous on the silver plate but it tasted equally good too. I loved the Kerala Parantha, which was golden crispy on the outside and had a soft, easy tear on the inside. Sadly, it came alone, making me wish there were more of it. At the festival, one has the option of choosing between veg and non-veg. Mine was the latter, with eight dishes in total, including the Masala Konju Chuttathu (mildly spiced prawns grilled with shallots and curry leaves), Illaneer Kozhi Pidi (a chicken dish cooked with tender coconut and rice dumplings), Curd Rice, Chettinadu Vegetables (mixed vegetables cooked with traditional chettinadu spices), Kari Kari Porial (finely chopped vegetables tossed with coconut and dry spices), Avial (seasonal vegetables cooked with cumin and coconut paste), and Thakali Sadam (rice cooked in tomato puree). The array for options was overwhelming and I, for one, could not decide on what to start with. Each dish was different and shone on its own. There were sweet curries like the Avial and spicy ones like the Masala Konju Chuttathu. I was completely taken aback by Curd Rice. Despite having a strong scent, almost similar to fermented rice, I found out it is one of the most cherished dishes in the South. Also surprising was the Illaneer Kozhi Pidi, which had a taste unlike anything I’ve had ever before. A lot of its credit goes to the spice mix they use in the South. All in all, the South Indian culinary experience was very enlightening. Clearly, the coconut state of India isn’t all Dosa and Uttapam, and I was glad to learn my lesson.
And as clichéd as it sounds, the dessert lived up to the saying: “The best is saved for last.” Payasum, a rice pudding with coconut, cardamom and jaggery, and Parippu Pradaman, a roasted moong dal sweet dish, cooked in jaggery and coconut milk, ended our dinner on a sweet note. Of the two, I enjoyed the former a lot more. The latter was a bit too sweet for my taste. However, the pleasant surprise came in a lot later when we were heading towards the door. The much-loved Meetha Paan was being offered to the diners and I can never resist one. There is nothing nearly as satisfying as munching on a sweet paan at the end of a long Indian meal. As I walked out of the doors of Kakori, licking whatever bit of paan juice that had stayed on my fingers, I felt nothing less than a rich Nawab’s Begum. And that is why a dinner at Kakori, costing Rs. 1950, is worth every paisa.
“The South Indian meal is a balanced diet. The coconut cream based soup works as an excellent appetizer, while the main course is fulfilling and heavy. The curd rice helps with digestion and the dessert satisfies your sweet tooth.” - Yuba Raj Pokhrel, Executive Chef, Soaltee Crowne Plaza.
What You Didn’t Know
Chef Satish Chandran, the guest chef, has been flown in from Kochi especially for the Uttar Dakshin Food Festival. He specializes in South Indian dishes and is to be thanked for each dish on offer.
He has brought with him most of the ingredients required for South Indian cuisine, such as coconut oil, Chettinadu spice, and kokum. He should also be thanked for the banana chips that are served before the beginning of the meal.
Don’t miss out on the seasonal juices that Soaltee is serving at all its restaurants only this summer.