Let’s just admit it right now. Without salt, everything fun about food would come to an extreme halt. Rhymes apart, what would we do without it?
So imagine our excitement when executive chef of the Crowne Plaza, Praveen Anand happened to mention they were doing a festival — dedicated entirely to the one condiment on the table we take most for granted. “A friend of mine in Tuticorin was telling me about salts that he was getting from different parts of the globe,” the chef relays to us, his excitement evident. “It was one of those moments where a light came on,” Anand adds. “I told him, give me all of them!”
Running across rivers and bodies of sea that you may never have visited, each comes with a different origin and a slightly varied colour. Like Himalayan Pink Salt being quite obviously pale pink to white compressed salt blocks from the Dead Sea. “We let you sample each salt ‘unrefined’,’” emphasises senior sous chef Vijay David Niranjan, who is handling the fest at On The Rocks. “That means a higher mineral profile,” he explains, “And of course, a much stronger hit of flavour”. Laid out in miniature bottles, each with a tag to offer up a name, we excitedly begin our tasting session. This is the prelude to in fact deciding upon which one of these salts will flavour our Rib eye steak. “And trust me,” adds chef Anand, “This drastically changes the flavour of what you are eating.” Surprisingly enough, as part of the experience, they even give our mojito a generous sprinkle of Himalayan Pink!
But back to the challenge of picking the perfect salt for our steak. There’s a gorgeous mushroom flavoured Porcini variety, although we really like the burnt garlic option as well... In the end, we settle for them both, one on either side of our steak. And as it sears and crackles on the lava stone right on the table, we can’t help but have a few butterflies in the stomach at the prospect of what is to come.
As we save our compliments for after the savoury goodness of digging into dual salted meat — all one can do is bask in how deliciously simple this is. There is a blue cheese sauce that we love on the side, but the salt alone is more than enough to get our tastebuds going. With a total of nine salts that cover flavoured varieties like paprika and chilli basil, as well as sourced choices such as the Murray River salt from Australia — here is one of those rare culinary escapades that is one hundred per cent non cliche.
Here’s raising a glass to the greatest seasoning condiment on earth. God forbid we ever run out!
‘Salts of the World’ can be experienced for dinner at On The Rocks, Crowne Plaza till July 25. For details, contact 24994101.