CHENNAI: Ever imagined a five-star hotel taking you through a mouth-watering expedition of South Indian village flavours? Well, if you haven’t, then just chill out and take a deep breath. For you may now know something that perhaps you wouldn’t have thought of, even if you’re the biggest foodie ever. And here goes the news – Gramathu Virundhu, as the food fest is aptly named, brings you a village-like experience simultaneously taking you to a new world, where you get to relish dishes that used to be the norm ages ago, all at Copper Point in Hotel GRT Grand.
We enter the hotel, and our eyes make a shift – we see a village set-up, literally! The aroma of Alasanthakulaya Vepudu (string beans cooked in South Indian spices) and Cauliflower Mezhukkupuratti (Cauliflower and pepper shallow fry) strikes our nose, but we resist only to catch up with chef Damu, who had been roped in by the hotel for the festival. “The best part about this fest is that it brings to food connoisseurs a taste of erstwhile Madras and other South Indian States – Andhra, Karnataka and Kerala,” he says. So, how many recipes per day, dear chef? “There are 60 recipes per day and each day we come up with a new menu,” explains Damu. Instantaneously, we calculate the number of recipes that would be prepared during the course of the carnival and we arrive at the number – a grand 420 recipes all together!
“Anything very special chef?” we ask. Even before the celebrity sous-chef responds, we have a waiter who comes and places hot Navadhaniya Charu, a mixed vegetable soup. It’s always a pleasure to eat with a chef, more so if it’s going to be Damu, we consider. “The best part is that all food items have tremendous medicinal value, and they’re all handmade and fresh. We haven’t used any measuring equipment while cooking, nor have we used refrigerators to store the food,” conveys the chef as we have our first sip of the ancient recipe. It’s delicious, giving us a taste of nine different herbs that are used in preparing the stew. Once done with the appetiser, we move out as chef Damu gets ready to show us a demo of Kathirika vadhakkal (Brinjal fry), the fragrance of which partly fills our stomachs.
There’s plenty for all, courtesy the abundant variety available. On the immediate right of the entrance are non-vegetarian items – Kasimedu Meen Biriyani, Sivagangai Kari Saalna, Kozhi Roast and a lot more, some of them bearing the name of the place they’re largely consumed in. We see 14 vegetarian recipes, two desserts, a bunch of fruit salads and lots of sweet eats – Mothi Paak, Kumayam and Rangoon Pattu being some of the delectable desserts.
We eat to our heart’s content and enjoy every bit of the lip-smacking goodness and yes, take to home some saccharine, tangy, yummy memories!
Gramathu Virundhu is hosted by Copper Point at GRT Grand Hotel and goes on till August 3.