Sometime ago I was privileged to attend a Traveler meet organized by Holiday IQ at JW Marriott in Bangalore. It was also a special invite to be a part of the NH48 food festival held in JW Kitchen of JW Marriott Bangalore. Travel and Food have an interesting bond, the deep connection of co-existence. One of the best ways to explore a place, a culture, a tradition is to delve deep into the culinary practices. The way of cooking, the ingredients and the practices of enjoying food reveal a lot about the people and their way of life. So, you can be in a city and take a culinary tour of the world simply through specialized cuisines of each region in a country and different countries OR you can travel the world as far as your itchy feet can take you and complete your experience by tasting your way through at local joints to fine dine restaurants.
Chef Jolly who is also an ardent traveler journeyed along NH48 that runs through the length of Karnataka from Bangalore to Mangalore via Coorg and Udupi to unearth local taste, the special touch of the local people that makes the dishes so special.
I headed straight to the counter where Chef Jolly was stirring the most delicious Mutton Sukka and it is not everyday that you get a Masterchef to do that. This is a special recipe he picked up from Charan’s Boat House in Mangalore. The fire in the spice hit my tongue after a couple of helpings and I was enjoying the sensation.
To counter the heat of the spices, I headed to the Bhatt’s Residence in Alevoor Village in Udupi. The Brahmin food low in spice but high on flavour like the Gulla Huli (Eggplant curry) and Thondekai Palya and the Pumpkin curry coupled with the sambhar were a welcome diversion.
I kept eyeing the fish but decided to load up on some Coorg special Kadambattu (rice balls) with the Pandi Curry (Pork Curry). The peppery pork cooked in its own fat was soft with the tangy taste of vinegar. Mrs Ponappa’s surely had some unique blend of spices that added that extra zing to the amazing food.
Finally, I was at the Fish Counter making that difficult choice between seer and pomfret. I settled for the Pomfret in Mint and the local Mandeli in Chilly Paste and a small one dripped in Semolina.
The cocktails were interesting, infused with freshly ground local spices and I queued up for my cinnamon flavored orange juice while Vodka and Whiskey were being given a local touch.
I got so carried away by all the food that desserts took a back seat. I just managed a piece of that Mangalore Special Phenori ~ flaky pastry thought there was a huge spread.
It was a wonderful evening over travel and food conversations and that extra bit of goodness from all the smiling chefs; who were eager to serve and explain all about the food specially since they had traveled with Chef Jolly in his quest for unearthing the local touch.