CHENNAI : Most monsoons usually mean hot tea. But this year, the heat was a wee bit higher. And we’re talking chilly-style. “Honestly there isn’t a better time of year in Chennai to put together a menu as hot as this one,” says chef Kamal Prasath K, ahead of our appetisers at The Park’s Chilli Festival. Six varieties of chillies are used to flavour a four course meal at Lotus, including...(hold your breath) the bhut jolokia — rated the world second hottest chilly in the world.
A word of friendly advice before we take you through it — water ain’t enough bud. We actually requested a bowlful of yoghurt just to make it past the appetisers!
The warm-up (quite literally) to the mains started off with a platter of enticing choices. Coconut and Dry Red Chilly crusted Tofu Fingers alongside a delicious sweet-sour tamarind dip, Wok Fried mushrooms with Yellow chillies and a Charcoal grilled chicken topped with Green Pepper corns and Banana chillies for a double dose of heat.
Through each step of the menu, there’s even a chilly symbol beside the title of the dish that tells you just how pungent your choice is. One is 50,000 to 1,00,000 Scoville Heat Units, two chillies could go up to 5,00,000 units and three...(phew) finds you ingesting heat anywhere between 8,00,000 and 10,000,00 SHU. And we’re plunged into this shocker five minutes after discovering such a measuring scale for pungency even existed!
Fortunately the chef goes easy on us with round two. The Yam Si Om salad of orange segments with fresh red chilly, mint and roasted chilly powder finds its spice masked in the refreshing, juicy sweetness of the fruit — this one is a must try. And despite red noses and sniffles around the table, one couldn’t help but go back for a second helping.
Rushing past the spice heavy-ginger flavoured chicken broth for soup, the main meal were mostly tagged three chillies each — leaving us with a few nervous butterflies before our first bites were taken. Fortunately though, the Braised Tenderloin with Yellow Chillies and Bhut Jolokia Chilly Glazed Grill Chicken were centered around a mild neutraliser of Thai Yellow Curry, that was fortunately for us generous on the coconut milk.
Between spoonfuls of this curry and our thayir bowl on request, tongues burning and water glugging — here’s a tip. Go for this chilly adventure with a friend. But if his H20 runs out, do not offer to share!
The Chilli Festival at Lotus, The Park, goes on till November 8. For details, contact 42676000.