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Of divine Kanchipuram idlis and menu engineering at Mercure’s Melange

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Foodie Trail-Chennai

Chennai, March 7: Among the several types of idlis — a healthy South Indian dish — the Kanchipuram idli has a special, even divine, status. It is offered to the Lord Varadharaja Perumal in Kanchipuram.

An official of the Varadharaja Perumal temple told IANS that no other temple has the Kanchipuram idli as the main offering to the Lord.

The dish has a unique taste, texture and flavour thanks to the ingredients and not many star hotels have it on their menu.

However, S. Satyaseelan, Executive Chef at Mercure Chennai Sriperumbudur near here has the Kanchipuram idli on the menu card of Melange — the 100-room hotel’s multi-cuisine restaurant.

“While we offer global cuisine as well as local cuisine infused with foreign flavours, the inclusion of Kanchipuram idli in the menu was done to offer our guest the local specialty,” Satyaseelan, son of a cook in a temple in Karnataka, told IANS.

The temple town of Kanchipuram is around 35 km from Oragadam, where the hotel is located.

By this time two Kanchipuram idlis in small tumbler shapes, along with gunpowder and gingelly oil, arrived at the table. The gunpowder mixed with gingelly oil and the Kanchipuram idli are made for each other.

“The fermentation of the idli batter has been kept bit low to suit the palate of foreigners,” Satyaseelan volunteered. After the second bite, one starts enjoying the dish.

“Our target clients are French, German, Japanese, Asian as well as Indians working in plants like Renault Nissan, Daimler India, Yamaha, Eicher Motors and others,” he added.

Speaking about designing the Melange’s menu, Satyaseelan said it has been kept simple and not complicated.

“Menu engineering for a new property is not an easy task as one has to study the target segment, the price and the portion size apart from seeing what the competition offers,” Satyaseelan said, offering the spicy rosemary olive chicken tikka that activated the taste buds on the first bite.

“We marinate the chicken in rosemary olive, giving a twist to the standard chicken tikka,” Satyaseelan said.

Continuing with menu engineering, he said all the dishes had to be good as a guest may vote with his feet if he is not satisfied. That’s a risk this restaurant clearly does not run.

By this time, C. Karthik, Chef de partie, brought a couple of bright red-coloured prawns — Thai marinated tandoor prawns (prawns marinated in Thai red curry, lemongrass) that gave out the flavours infused in it.

The challenges faced by the General Manager (GM) who assumes charge at the pre-opening stage of a hotel are quite different.

“A pre-opening GM has to set up his team, get the operational supplies, engineering and other needs of the property. After inauguration, the operations have to be stabilised,” GM Rahul Nama told IANS.

“We will serve the market located within 10-15 km radius — basically auto and auto ancillaries. In the market we serve, there are around 450 rooms. There is a gap for an international brand,” Nama said.

By this time the soft and tasty kung pao chicken (friend chicken with dry chilli cashew net and soya sauce) and the flavour-full dark green bay prawns with curry dust (prawns dusted in curry leaf powder and fried) were polished off the plate.

On the vegetarian side, you can have the interestingly named nanwich (vegetables and cheese wrapped in a nan and grilled).

The tandoori mushroom quesadillas (tortilla bread wrap with mushroom, onion, coriander, cheese served with salsa) and the Chettinadu vegetable burger tasted nice.

The menu card offers vegetarians and non-vegetarians choices of biriyani, Indian breads, noodles, fried rice and as well as a full meal in a bowl like the Japanese dish chukadon.

Chukadon (a melange of chicken, shrimps and squid stir-fried with vegetables and served on sticky rice) washes gentle on the palate and the tummy and would go well with Thai red curry tandoored prawn.

For dessert, Satyaseelan offered Madras filter coffee ice cream with pieces of almond. The ice cream was really divine — a nice way to end the tasting session that began with Kanchipuram idli.

FAQs:

What: New restaurant Melange

Where: Mercure Hotels Chennai Sriperumbudur, Oragadam

Cost for two: Rs.1,500 plus taxes

IANS

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Kissing contest banned in Siddo-Kanhu fair in Jharkhand

The competition in the fair, organised in Littipara block in Pakur district, had created controversy last year after photos and videos of 18 tribal couples locking their lips in public went viral.

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Kissing contest in Jharkhand

Ranchi, Dec 15 : The Pakur district administration in Jharkhand has banned the kissing contest this year in the Siddo-Kanhu fair.

“The Siddo-Kanhu fair beginning Saturday will have no kissing competition this year as it has been banned and there will be no such contest taking place in any public place,” Jitendra Kumar Deo, Sub Divisional Officer (SDO)of Pakur district, told reporters.

The competition in the fair, organised in Littipara block in Pakur district, had created controversy last year after photos and videos of 18 tribal couples locking their lips in public went viral.

Supporting the competition, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) legislator from Littipara Assembly seat, Simon Marandi, who was the chief guest at the fair last year, said, “It’s an expression of love.”

The BJP had criticised the kissing competition saying it is not part of the tribal culture.

— IANS

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Evening walk may not cause sleep issues as previously though

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London, Dec 14: Engaging in moderate physical activity including walking, cycling or jogging in the evening does not cause sleep problems, suggest researchers.

The research challenges previous studies that suggested that sleep quality can be improved by avoiding exercise in the evening.

The findings showed that doing exercise for four hours before going to bed does not have a negative effect on sleep.

However, vigorous training within an hour before bedtime may have a negative effect on sleep.

“If doing sport in the evening has any effect on sleep quality at all, it is rather a positive effect, albeit only a mild one,” said Christina Spengler, Deputy Head from the ETH Zurich in Switzerland.

In the study, published in the journal Sports Medicine, a small group of people after taking part in some kind of sport in the evening, spent 21.2 per cent of their sleeping time in deep sleep, compared to 19.9 per cent following an evening without exercise.

However, those who completed an intensive training session shortly before bedtime took longer to fall asleep.

The reason could be because they were not able to recover sufficiently in the hour before they went to bed. Their hearts were still beating more than 20 beats per minute faster than their resting heart rate.

Although the difference is small, it is statistically significant. Deep sleep phases are especially important for physical recovery, the researchers noted.

“Moderate exercise did not cause sleep problems in any of the studies examined, not even when the training session ended just 30 minutes before bedtime.

“However, vigorous training or competitions should be scheduled earlier in the day, if possible,” said Jan Stutz, doctoral student at the varsity.

IANS

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Make your tea special this International Tea Day

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Tea International Tea Day
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New Delhi, Dec 14: Tea as a drink has come a long way and is slowly established as more than just a usual drink across cafes and restaurants in India. This International Tea Day on Saturday, why not add some variety to your sip by trying some new recipes?

Cheg Gregory Bazire at Brooke Bond Taj Mahal Tea House explains how to make Chocolate Chai Liegeois.

* Chocolate Chai Liegeois (serves 4)

Chocolate chai base:

* Ingredients: 200g couverture chocolate 55 per cent; 40 gram sugar; 25 gram corn flour; 200 gram fresh cream; 200 gram milk.

* Process: Warm the cream and add the chocolate in broken pieces and melt it lowly. Warm up the milk and sugar, add the corn flour and pour into the cream with chocolate. Keep on stirring until thickens; Pour into a transparent cup and reserve in the fridge until use.

Vanilla Cream:

* Ingredients: 250 ml fresh cream; 70 gram icing sugar; 1 vanilla pods.

* Process: Remove the seeds from the vanilla pods and add them to the cream; Whip the cream until good consistency and add the sugar and whip again a little; Keep chilled until use.

So before you enjoy the your liegeois, top the chai cream with a good amount of vanilla cream, add a few chocolate vermicelli and why not a few almond slivers.

-*-

The second recipe is Tea Smoked Salmon curated by Jaydeep Mukherjee, Brand Head at Smoke House Deli, Impresario Handmade Restaurants Pvt Ltd.

* Tea Smoked Salmon (Serves 4)

Ingredients: 4 numbers of Salmon fillet with skin, portioned (160 gm); Salt to taste; Black pepper crushed, to taste; 50 ml Olive oil; Thyme – few sprigs; 2 numbers of garlic crushed; 15 gram butter; 40 gm Organic Jowar, boiled; 40 gm Organic Barley, boiled; 40 gm Organic Bajra, boiled; 40 gm Organic toasted buckwheat, boiled; 80 gm Bellpeppers, deseeded, finely chopped; 30 gm Seaonal peas; 20 gm Parsley, chopped; Zest and juice of 1 lemon; 20 gm onion chopped; 4 cloves garlic chopped; 30 ml olive oil; Lime chili aioli; 300 gm Seasonal greens, cleaned, torn; 4 cloves Garlic sliced.

* To smoke: 100 gm Rice; 50 gm Assam tea.

* Process:

* To smoke the salmon; Score the skin, then season the salmon with salt and pepper. In a heavy bottom wok or kadai, place 4 sheets of aluminium foil, then top with the raw rice and tea. Place on a high heat and wait for it to start smoking. Once it starts to smoke, place the fillet, skin side down on a bamboo steamer or wire rack and place in the wok. Reduce the flame to medium. Cover well with the bamboo cover or wrap in aluminium foil. Keep on the flame for 5 minutes. Then take off the flame and leave on the side covered for 10- 15 minutes.

* Warm multigrain salad – Heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan on a medium flame. Saute the chopped onion and garlic till translucent. Add vegetables and toss quickly. Then add the boiled grains and toss. Season as required. Finish with chopped parlsey, lemon zest and lemon juice.

* Wilted greens – Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan. Add the sliced garlic and cook till a light golden brown. Add the seasonal greens to the pan. Add salt and pepper as required and toss off the flame.

* Assembly – Heat olive oil in a pan. Add the crushed garlic and let it flavour the oil. Remove the salmon from the smoker and place in the pan, skin side down for 2 minutes, or until the skin is crisp. Add thyme and butter, and baste the salmon. Turn the salmon on the flesh side and keep in a warm place to finish cooking to your preferred doneness.

In a plate, spoon the lime chilli aioli. Place the warm multi-grain salad and wilted greens next to it. Place the pan seared smoked salmon on it, crispy skin side up. Serve with lemon wedges and a drizzle of Extra Virgin olive oil.

IANS

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