Courtyard Marriot, Chennai has always received me very warmly. I was very fortunate to visit the property at the advent of the holy month of Ramadan. Chef Sanjeev and Chef Saji Alex had gone an extra mile to curate the Mappila festival. They had even gone an extra mile with the uniforms where the ushers and waiters were dressed in traditional Mappila attire from head to toe. The efforts invested involved personal attention, where Chef Saji himself had taken a trip to the Malabar regions to source and procure the authentic ingredients and spices. The confluence of the Arab and Kerala culture is evident in the cuisine.
The cuisine has specific non-vegetarian leanings, and is traditional in its own right. The Mappila cuisine is cherish by the Muslims residing in Kerala. The cuisine comprised of a sumptuous array. There is a delicious bread pancake that is prepared using rice flour called ‘pathiri’. The cuisine involves a rich choice of spices that the organically procured from the plantations in Kerala. The use of spices is specific to both the Arabs and Kerelaites. The food is prepared using coconut oil, which is abundant in the Malabar Regions.
An array of aromatic curries, and Biryani’s complete with lamb chops, mutton, chicken, and prawn from an integral part of the Mappila cuisine. The Biryani’s are prepared in special kilns where the heat is sent both to the top and from the bottom of the vessel. Kallummakkaya (mussels) curry, ‘Erachi Puttu’ (erachi means meat), and ghee rice are some of the other specialties.
I was fortunate to have a very traditional dessert that is called the ‘Pazham Nirachathu’ (a preparation involving a ripe banana filled with coconut grating, molasses or sugar).
All in all the festival was one of it’s kind. I could see that the chefs and their team had indeed gone an extra mile to make this festival a hit!
I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience at the festival, and it has given me just one more reason to explore another avenue in the South Indian cuisine area.