If you love the cuisine of Malabar, there is a treat in store for you. The Malabar Food Festival is on at Jamavar, The Leela Palace Bangalore between 15th and 24th August 2018 and it promises to take you on a magical, gastronomic journey through Malabar. I was invited to preview this meal at a select gathering that proved that the food of God’s Own Country has so many flavours that it is a culinary explosion that needs to be experienced. Chef Purushothama Naidu will ensure that you have a meal that you will remember much after you are done.
As I made my way to Jamavar on a rather overcast day, it was the stunning vintage interiors of the restaurant that overlook the verdant greenery that had an instant way to uplift my mood. We soon settled down into our comfortable chairs and started the meal with the traditional beverages, Nannari Sharbat, a refreshing drink made with Sarsaparilla Roots Extract with Lemon and Mint that is a traditional detox drink in Kerala and the Idicha Moru, a spicy Butter Milk with Ginger, Cilantro And Curry Leaves that packed a punch.
Being vegetarian, I sampled a few of the dishes on offer but the menu for the festival has a large selection of non-vegetarian fare too including the Kallumekkaya Kadukka (stuffed mussels with chilli and ginger), Meen Varthathu (masala fried fish with crushed shallots and fennel – pomfret/red snapper), Chemeen Moilee (aromatic coconut gravy with tiger prawns and tomatoes), Nandu Kurumilagu (fresh crab meat stir fried with shallots and black pepper) and Malabar Briyani, cooked with khima rice and Malabar spices among others.
Even before starting the meal, the table was filled with a variety of accompaniments including pickles, chutney’s and dips that teamed perfectly with the crisp fried papad and yellow banana chips. And of course the starters are the perfect precursor to the wonderful meal. I sampled the Vazhapoo Cutlet – banana flower and vegetable patties that was delectable – crispy on the outside and soft inside. The Cauliflower Roast made with crispy fried Cauliflower tossed with onion and green chilli was a treat too. However it was the hot Pachakari bonda, or the masala fried vegetables dumplings served with coconut chutney that was a universal hit – just the right amount of spices ensured that this was perfect on the palate.
For the main course we sampled the flavouful Vendakka Mappas, a spicy and sour ladyfinger cooked in coconut milk with mustard, Pachakari Stew, a traditional seasonal vegetable coconut stew and Urlakezhangu Peratti, potatoes stir fried with shallots and red chillies. These made the perfect accompaniment with the Malabar Parottam a flakey griddled bread and the delightful Ari Pathal, a deep fried rice flour bread that is ground with shallots, ginger, chillies and spices (the first time I had it too).
The Parippu Curry made with yellow lentils tempered with shallots and mustard seeds and Pineapple Puliseri (a delightfully fresh way to cook with pineapple) made with pineapple and yoghurt curry tempered with red chilli and fenugreek teamed well with the Neichoru or Ghee Rice and Chuvanna Choru or the traditional boiled red rice. And no meal (even one as extensive as this) is complete without dessert so we sampled some of the authentic sweets of the region. The Pal Ada Payasam, is a sweet made with rice flakes simmered in milk and flavored with cardamom, Unnakkayi or banana fitters with dry fruits and Parippu Prathaman made with yellow lentils cooked with jaggery, coconut milk and raisins (the one I most enjoyed) were all the perfect way to end this perfect meal on a sweet note. So are you ready for a Malabar rush?
Jamavar, Ground Level, The Leela Palace Bangalore, Old Airport Road, Bangalore – 560008.
Available for Lunch and Dinner on an a-la-carte menu. Reservations: 080-2521-1234.