CHENNAI: A wise man once said: Cook food for your soul. True to his words, The Raintree Hotel in Anna Salai is hosting a Mauritian Food Festival in association with Constance Belle Mare Plage Hotel of Mauritius for Chennaiites to taste the simplicity of Mauritian cuisine. The festival was inaugurated at the restaurant’s bar with an aim to present Mauritius as a holiday destination for Chennaiites. The pale bar décor matched the uniform attire of the attendants.
As I made my way through the colourful-looking Mauritian buffet and took my seat, Chef Aundoo presented a unique Palm Heart salad. “It is an exclusive Mauritian ingredient, which takes almost six years to grow,” says the chef. The subtle taste of pomegranate balanced the strong coriander flavour. “Usually we add a bit of citrus like a lemon or an orange to prevent the oxidisation of Palm heart,” she explained, while I took a bite of the palm heart presented by Chef Rajesh. Following which, a salad platter was brought in.
The plate had around eight different types of salad. The spices used in the sauce and dressing of the salad had an Indian touch to it. The rawness of the vegetables and fishes melted beautifully with its sauce. The smoked marlin (Salmon) highlighted the soft flavours of the herbs. The picked fish vindaye is sure to make you nostalgic with its homegrown flavours. Nothing overpowers the other. As the Chef explained the different ingredients of the buffet, she carefully dropped the health report of the spread, “Most of the sauces, curries and dressings are made with minimum or no oil.” The delectable chicken curry curbed my urge to have a home-cooked chicken meal.
As most of the dishes were mildly spiced, the chefs decided to bring the heat back to the table with chutneys made of green apple and chillies, and dry fish and red chillies respectively. The sourness of the green apple and heat of the chillies can be calmed with the tamarind rice pudding coupled with chocolate or a caramelised banana. The sweet coconut made with sugar and grated coconut will leave you wanting for more.
(The Mauritian Food Festival at The Raintree Hotel, Anna Salai, will be held till June 24)
Most of the spices in Mauritian dishes are similar to the ones used in India. The only difference is the way they are mixed. The spices never overpower the main component of the dishes.