11 Oct 2017
5 min read
Executive Sous Chef Arun Prasad has prepared an indulging, fulfilling and unlimited-fare South Indian buffet dinner at The Café, Hyatt Regency Kathmandu
The invitation said 6.30 pm. I arrived sharp on the dot, but punctuality becomes less of a charm when you show up drenched in the rain, soaking wet and with drippy footsteps.
But here at this lavish all-you can eat South Indian buffet, they're prepared for anything and everything. Even a soggy food critic. I was quickly ushered to the men's room, where I spent a good 15 minutes dabbing my head and clothes dry with paper towels. So much for not wanting to make the Chef wait!
The Chef in charge of the buffet that evening was the new resident Executive Sous Chef, Arun Prasad. He’s confident— because he has over 16 years of experience under his belt—including five years at the Hyatt Regency Chennai and over six at the Grand Hyatt Dubai. But he’s humble enough that he didn’t mind waiting for us to be seated on our table. No, not at all! He even went as far as picking out our dinner, and stuffing us with nearly a dozen different foods. All of which are part of an à la carte buffet dinner—one you could very well turn into a multiple course tasting- menu of your own.
Chef’s Food Principle
Chef Arun has a knack for, and love for, Indian-style cooking, like any other professional chef who has mastered a cuisine. That devotion, he says, is what his entire career has always been based on. Over the years, he has developed a certain uniqueness in the way he blends his herbs and spices. Sourcing almost all of them from South India for this particular dining event, roasting them to bring out the flavours, and preparing the necessary mix with an accuracy that can only come from the kind of experience he has. For this evening, he headed a team of 17 servers and assistants and six chefs.
Uralai Kalan Varuval: This is a popular street food in Tamil Nadu, and prepared with potatoes and baby mushrooms, and seasoned with several condiments—salt, chillies, onions, cumin, fennel, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, ginger-garlic and mustard.
Thindukal Thalappakatti Biryani
Neither too spicy nor too greasy, this creamy and flavourful South Indian style biryani, which is mainly prepared in Tamil Nadu, is rich and fulfilling.
Kohzi Nadan Curry
Prepared on a cast iron skillet to bring out the flavours, this traditional chicken fare is cooked with roasted coconut gravy along with ginger-garlic, chilies, coriander, grated coconuts, salt and turmeric.
This happens to be one of the traditional curries in Kerala. It’s prepared with okra or ladies fingers, again in roasted coconut gravy.
Famous for its distinct flavours, this is a hot lentil and rice dish that requires elaborate cooking with lots of aromatic spices and herbs like asafoetida, bay leaves and nutmeg, among others.
Aromatic and juicy, it’s one seafood affair that incorporates the rich taste of seafood with spices familiar to Nepali tongues. Prepared with prawns slowly cooked in spicy, piquant coconut sauce, this one you just cannot miss.
An essential requirement of a traditional vegetarian feast in Sadya, in Kerala, this one is a viscous mix of coconut and vegetables cooked in coconut oil and is heartily seasoned. It’s also said to have been invented by Bhima, one of the Pandavas in Hindu mythology, during their exile.
This is a South Indian take on parathas or parottas. Light, thin and crispy, and served traditionally on a banana leaf, this parotta is made on a tawa—a small, iron cast skillet.
Usually served with rice and ghee, this is a thick and consistent mix of tomatoes and lentils seasoned with onion and garlic, and it has a consistent texture until the last spoonful.
Similar to the Newari-style chatamaris, but a bit sweeter in flavour, this is a South Indian staple— pancakes prepared on tawas with the batter of fermented rice and served with coconut milk.
For appetisers, there are panagamm— a sweet and healthy beverage prepared from jaggery, cardamom and ginger, crunchy peanut salad, tangy lentils, curd rice, methi or fenugreek pickle, lemon pickle, and onion pachadi—a South Indian onion pickle.
The desserts include Thirti Halwa, Dahi Balla and Elaneer Payasam—a rich, runny kheer variety made with coconut milk, among others.
What: South Indian Food Tasting
Chef: Executive Sous Chef Arun Prasad
Where: The Café, Hyatt Regency Kathmandu, Taragaon, Boudha, Kathmandu