Mangalorean cuisine is something we Mumbaikars crave for, as it is not easily available. Once in a while one is lucky to frequent a friend or relative’s home and relish a traditional meal. Even then, there are variations in a Mangalorean Hindu and Catholic meal.
The long drive to Four Points by Sheraton, Vashi, Navi Mumbai from the Western suburbs seemed tedious and long, but after the dinner at Asian Kitchen, curated and prepared by the home chef duo, Vijaya Bangera and Rekha Salian, under the guidance of Executive Chef Mukul Jha, I was glad to have made the journey. The ten day Mangalorean food festival ends tonight.
The ambience at the restaurant was eclectic and vibrant, yet traditional. The buffet spread was vast with non vegetarian and vegetarian choices galore.
Pumpkin stew, struck me as extremely innovative. And the taste and flavours were indeed unique. Tomato Rasam, Kori Sukha, Bangude Puli Munchi, Neer Dosa with Jinji chutney and the Mangalorean staple Ganjee rice, were some of the dishes on offer.
Speaking about this festival, Chef Mukul Jha, Executive Chef, said, “Mangalorean cuisine is known for its fresh and spicy flavors with rice and fish being staple preparations owing to its coastal origin. We wanted our guests to experience a traditional home cooked meal by our home chef duo who will prepare nothing but the best and leave you with a taste of authentic Mangalorean food.”
Each dish was distinct from the other. The masalas for each, was prepared by the home chefs from scratch. No ready made masalas for these ladies. They prefer to labour and get it right. That is what set this meal apart and gave it the feel of a home-cooked meal, all the way.
The chicken curry was light and flavourful. Appeased my taste buds. Paired well with the Kori roti or Mangalorean rice wafers. The spices were subtle yet, evident in each spoonful. The mutton curry in the typical Kundapur coarsely ground spices, was fiery and lip-smacking. It was comparatively more robust, but not overpowered by spices again.
Their fish curry was quite different from the one, we Goans are used to. Delectable nevertheless. I relished it with red rice, the way I do at home.
Of course the food was spicy and replete with coconut. Dried chillies (badige), pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and tamarind, were the other ingredients which were predominant.
The vegetarian preparations like Genasu Podi (Sweet Potato Chips), Bisi Bele Bhat, were outstanding too and well-made.
The desserts were tradtional as well. Banana Halwa, Hannu Kesari Bhat, Sweet Appams and Godhi Payasam were the perfect finale to a grand meal.
The passion and enthusiasm of the home chefs was infectious and their humility was overwhelming. They obviously loved to cook and were beaming politely at the words of appreciation coming their way.
It was easily one of the most enjoyable meals I have had in a while. Even though the venue was a hotel, the flavours were quintessentially, home type. Add to that, prompt service, alert staff, warm hospitality and a traditional ambience. Naturally then, it was a memorable dining experience.