THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Crab may not be the favourite of many, but a true seafood lover is always up for the challenge. At Hilton Garden Inn it comes wrapped in a brown buttery gravy, a blend of fried shallots and fiery black pepper.
The Konkan Food Festival going on at the place offers a slew of ethnic delicacies, the cuisine from the thin coastal strip running from Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka down to Kerala.
There is the smooth coconuty twist, sharpness of raw mangoes, the rich texture of cashews and layers of rice. And, surprisingly, the palm-fringed shores keep in store a volley of veg delicacies as well. “Konkon cuisine is a potpourri of so many culinary traditions.
You will find Tulu preparations along with typical Portuguese dishes from Goa. Our menu is very balanced with equal veg and non-veg options,” says executive chef Ashok Eapen.
We start with a crunchy raw-mango salad, crisp and refreshing. Paneer cafreal in its spicy-tangy green coating rolls in after that.
A variation of the popular chicken dish, the soft paneer pieces just melt in your mouth.“Coriander and fresh chillies are the main ingredients in the green paste used for marination,” says the chef. The salad bar is elaborate with a solid variety including the desi coconut-and-kappa, egg cocktail and pesto-coated seafood pasta.
Next comes the coastal staple, rice, served with three different chutnies and chicken ghee roast. “All spices are roasted in ghee for that special flavour and aroma,” says the chef. Among the condiments is the truly delectable veppilakkatti, made of tamarind and curry leaves. Dried shrimp powder is roasted with spices and coconut for another while the next one has ground peanut as the main ingredient.
Manglorean crab masala is equally spicy and yummy, with a faint flavour of roasted coconut. It goes well with gralic naan, or Kerala paratha or roti for that matter. “The masala we use is home ground, it’s very essential to maintain the spice balance.”
He adds that another highlight of the menu is Malvani fish curry, prepared using fresh seer fish. “Cumin, coriander and black pepper is used for marination and then dry mango is added for the pungency. It’s usually served with steamed rice,” he says. We wind up the meal with moderately sweet bebinca, the Goan dessert made of flour, ghee, egg yolk and sugar.
The menu features some famed preparations like pork vindaloo and bulgogi along with an array of treats of vegetarians. There will be a couple of live stations every day for Indian breads and desserts. The festival is on till February 26. Walk in for dinner.