CHENNAI: Not everyone can go on a voyage and retrace Vasco da Gama’s journey through various continents before landing up in India. Here is your chance to experience the adventure of the Portuguese explorer and the first European to reach India, connecting the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. Vasco’s at The Hilton’s is paying an ode to the person it borrows its name from and is recreating his journey through a delectable array of cuisines.
The food festival, Vasco da Gama’s Voyage of Discovery of Cuisines, is a treat for food connoisseurs. His journey opened up a new spice route from Europe to India. Before reaching Calicut, Goa, Daman and Diu, Vasco da Gama sailed through the Oceans of Atlantic — from Lisbon, Africa and Madagascar to Cochin and Goa.On Friday, the festival anchored itself along the coastline of Africa. Replete with food mats, it depicted the voyager’s route from the Eurpoean shores to India. With it’s own interiors that resemble a ship, the stage was set for an unforgettable journey of discovering unknown spices and flavours.
“For any chef, the biggest challenge is always to find the right ingredients,” said Chef Babu, Chef de Cuisine at Vasco’s. “We have sourced ingredients locally and have picked dishes that require ingredients that are easily available. With African cuisine, we did not face too much trouble in this regard as it is similar to Indian dishes. For something like bunny chow, you don’t need anything from South Africa because it is an Indian-origin dish. Even the chakalaka consists beans that are found easily here.”
The refreshing sweet potato and coconut salad served as a the perfect sweet and tangy start to the meal. What followed was the must-try Chicken Sosaties, which was a unique blend of char-grilled apricots and onion with juicy and tender chicken chunks. The combination is exotic and a real treat. The bunny chow was nothing short of a dream with lamb cooked to perfection in a mouthwatering sauce and topped with red and yellow bell peppers to balance the flavour and add a dash of tartness. The beef babotie will leave you craving for more as it is blends spice, salt and all things nice for a hearty and lip-smacking dish.
If you think there is nothing much for vegetarians, you’ll be in for many surprises. The menu has been curated keeping in mind that there should be more than an ample number of dishes available for vegetarians. The jellof rice and the chakalaka will please the vegetarian palate. The flavoured rice provides a great accompaniment to the dozens of other dishes on offer. For anyone who loves egg, the egg bunny chow is a must-try. The curried eggs are a great spin on a classic egg and bread combination and one you cannot go wrong with!
No meal is complete without something sweet and the pampoenkoekies, which is pumpkin fritters, caramelised with some cinnamon is not only a different but delightful way to end the meal!
The festival is on till July 20. Open for dinner only from 6.30 pm to 11 pm. For details, call: 9500026055
On the menu
The chefs at Vasco’s have put together an exciting menu from Europe to India such as the rate potato with sour cream, chicken blanquette, live toesti counter, African specialties such as chicken peri peri salad, côte cap verde, sousboontjies, jeer jeer salata, chicken sosaties, frikkadel with tomato sauce, potjiekos (lamb stew with vegetable), pampoenkoekies (pumpkin fritters), roast lamb leg with lentil rice, jellof rice, porcupine potato, Middle Eastern specialties such as tabbouleh (chopped parsley, mint, tomatoes, bourgul wheat), samke harra (grilled Fish with coriander and garlic served with tahina and parsley tarator), loubieh bzeit (green bean with tomato sauce and olive oil), muhammara (sesame paste with roasted red bell peppers and walnuts) Lebanese moutabbal (sesame paste with smoked eggplant) usi rice, lamb tajine with dry apricots and almonds, mashawi mushakaleh, bamya bil salona, samkeh beyroutieh harra sauce, and a live shish tawok counter.
From the Asian/Indian lands, chefs present fish ambotic, chicken cafriel, lamb xacuti, pork sorpotel. From America there’s duck and orange salad, chicken Hawaiian salad, fish salad with lemon dressing, cobb salad, kidney bean & sweet corn salsa, Texas chicken drumsticks, jerk spiced pork belly, chili con carne, South American bean and wild rice and many more.