"Maami Samayal"

Christened a Tamil Brahmin for some time now has made my ear quite perceptive to anything that has a tag of "Iyer", my caste and community. It has also made my taste buds dance to the tunes of the food that is typical of a Brahmin household. There are times, when I have searched high and low for a meal that reminds me of home when I am far away from it, but I found only North Indian dishes closest to what is made at home(mine or a north Indian's home).South Indian food was largely left unexplored, often culminating in the quickie that Saravana Bhavan or Ratna cafe fed me. But these 2 hotels were frequented more by me for their "closer -to -home" status and the ubiquitous sambhar they served.

But since change is the only thing that’s constant in life, my southie foodie habits took a better turn last Friday in Chennai when the "MAAMI SAMAYAL" food festival was inaugurated. With the enthusiasm of the weekend setting in on Friday evening, I quickly found my way to the DaysInnDeccanfoodPlaza. The Olives restaurant was decked up with a pandal giving it a festive mood

I sat in my chair, waiting for the waiters, nattily dressed in white with the traditional Veshti to add to the authenticity of the place. Lady Chef Gowri Mami, from Mayiladutharai, showed up, from nowhere and I was introduced to her and found that this was her first such culinary expedition outside Mayiladutharai, and at that point I quite didn’t realize what an awesome debut she has made.

The wide array of the spread had my attention and the hospitable gesture of the chef prompetd me to taste, shunning all inhibitions of social eating.

It started off with the Neer Moar Panagam, which is a welcome drink, that had the pleasure
being gulped down thrice my throat, after which my tongues wagged towards the Podis and pickles. The Podis had the Paruppupodi and the ellu podi, and the pickles had the vepilai kati. Once the starters started to allay the fears of a stomach revolt, I proceeded to the main course. Porichakootu and Araithavitta sambhar, entertained my taste buds, before the Maami from Mylai, informed me that it was one of her favourites. Also in the main course and worth a nibble were the Kathirika Podi satham and the kuzhambu vada, which elicit memories of marriage functions and festivals at home.

Another mouth watering dish that I encountered was a special made by the "Mylai Maami", having meshed bananas with Dosa. It may seem a little out of place to have bananas with dosai, but I have tried this out at home some time back, but considering that this was professionally made, my mouth had a mind of its own, as long as it could take enough of banana dosai, until the deserts came to the scene. I am informed that the menu here changes daily in terms of the specialty dish that the "Maami" cooks during the 10 day festival.

The sweet tooth in me was waiting to explore the viands on display and the "Akkara Adisil,Gothumai Halwa and Kunja laddo add to the experience of savouring a lovely lip exercise, even as the mild instrumental carnatic music wafts you away releasing all the pressures of a hectic week.

I also happened to meet up with the executive chef of the Days Inn restaurant, Mr Shankara Subramanian and got to know about his work style. He spends his time researching on the web for newer recipes and wants to explore a food connoisseur corner on the internet to share his experiences with like minded people. A major chunk of his time, is spent on hunting for people /cooks from the "Real India" to add more authenticity to his food festivals. Sometimes its a "maami" fest or a "Rajasthan ka Khaana" or a Andhra food fest, all year long at his restaurant, for which he does the planning and execution of the food festivals.

He is of the opinion that working in a bigger hotel allows a chef to experiment with more cuisines as compared to a smaller hotel chain which is too busy poaching commercial interests as against exploring the nuances and researching of some more viands.

Wait a minute, I am not yet done!!. The Chef asked me to wash down my stomach with a kumbakonam digiri coffee, and guess what? They gave all diners a pack of goodies, the same traditional way goodies are packed at the end of a marriage and given to the guests. I was more than impressed with the finesse with which the food festival was conducted and professionally managed giving that all important personalised home touch.

Mami Samayal is from 24th November to 8th December 2006 at "Olives" the multi cuisine restaurants for Lunch and for dinner. Check out www.deccanhotels.com and you could contact the assistant F&B manager, Mr Suresh at 09840987713


Anonymous said...

Why do u want to keep on stressing the Brahmin part even in a food review ?? Times have changed, so have people !! And i guess proclaiming this as an identifier isn't the best thing - just my humble opinion !!

Anonymous said...

i dont undersatnd why you add this "BRAHMIN"tag to whatever you write on .I truly appreciate your style of writing but i guess you need to get out of three things 1.The brahmin feeling 2.The porn stuff 3.Women.There is so much said n discussed in your blog on feminity and most of the time it's vulgar or something negative.I understand that after all you are a guy still ,grow up ...there is so much outta there happening in the world..

Kartik Kannan said...

Point Noted , dear anons :-)

Neo-Dhwija said...

Y be apologetic about ur roots and culture??! I titally disagree with anonymous.Dont go for an overkill,but there is nothing wrong with identifying with ur roots and culture which has been with u from time immemorial.

Anonymous said...

I totally Disagree with what Neo-Dhwija says.It is very obvious that people reading the blog will definitely get the feel of catogorising Brahmin seperately. Why do we bring in differentiations in food too?

Anonymous said...

I totally Disagree with what Neo-Dhwija says.It is very obvious that people reading the blog will definitely get the feel of catogorising Brahmin seperately. Why do we bring in differentiations in food too?

elderman said...

I am more tan double in age of Kannan.
When there is a substantial section which try to deride and downshow anything even remotely connected with brahmin,this young man,s taking on his identity even at the ost of rebuke only shows the will to stick to one's own roots with pride.As far as this does not openly ridcule others , there is nothing if one says that he is christian muslim or brahmin.Carry on Kannan.You are reflecting what I wanted to in my youndays.But als, tehn I was very poot and there were no facilities like internet blog.keep on....

pradeep said...

Well, I have nothing against the sticking and cherishing the roots - - But one thing: why would the learned population still would like to carry on this (somethings - even if not said are never gonna change)

but an elderly person encouraging younger generation to give voice to something like this (which he couldnt coz of lack of such mediums, then) is so appalling.

that apart i loved readin this post - u write well - keep it going

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