A ten-year-old boy was a night guard to his grandmother who ran a tea shop in the middle of a paddy field in Kerala village. In the morning, he would go to school, then come back to her, keep an eye on her cooking, narrating tales of his school friends while she was chopping veggies for her dishes. The days went by and the boy turned into a young man who now started exploring the traditional kitchens of Kerala and local food joints to understand and learn the intricacies of the cuisine.
Today, after 25 years, that young boy is a well-known chef by the name Rejimon.
He has been presenting culinary gems of the region in a festival called Kerala Kitchen Fest, in different cities.
Diners in the capital have a chance to savour his preparations at Café on 3, Holiday Inn Mayur Vihar Noida, where he has been specially flown in from Crowne Plaza Kochi for ten days for the Kerala Kitchen extravaganza. “Every time I come to Delhi, I try to showcase some new dishes. This time Kane Porichathu, that is deep-fried ladyfish infused with spices, is my showstopper,” he says with a smile.
Pineapple Rasam which is a green chilli infused pineapple soup, and Seafood Thenga Pal Soup, a mixed seafood broth with coconut milk, make for the perfect start for his lavish meal set-up. Follow it up with signature starters such as Seafood Vada Masala which are seafood dumplings tossed with onion tomato masala, and Vazhapoo Cutlets made with banana flower and mashed
Rejimon makes sure you try Appam, Idiappam, Malabar Paratha and Puttu with Kadala Curry, veg and chicken stew. He strongly recommends Suriyani Kozhi Pidi which he makes in Syrian Christian style with a delicious rice dumpling curry.
Ask for the platter of assorted pickles, pachadi and chutneys to up your spice quotient.
Round off with Vazhapoo Parippu Payasam, robust with jaggery and coconut flavour. My favourite was Neyyada, a layered steamed cake with eggs and nut which had a soft, crunchy texture. You could also go for chef’s favourite Pazham Vilayichathu, caramelised banana with coconut and nuts, or Palada Pradaman, rice flakes cooked with cardamom infused sweetened milk.
On that sweet note, our meal comes to a satiating end, marking the beginning for other such delicious sojourns. Till December 8, Café on 3, Holiday Inn, Mayur Vihar. The author writes on food and travel among other things.