Different kinds of Sambol and Pickles

The Rice options

Vegetarian main dishes..
Egg Appams


 The Chef with his books- the teeny tiny one and another slightly bigger book

Srilankan food to me is all about the lovely medley of flavours, the coconut roti in the road side stall, the appam stew and ofcourse Kiri Pani [ buffalo milk curd served with treacle].. At Madras Pavilion, they have brought down Chef Dr Publis Silva from Sri Lanka’s Mount Lavinia Hotel to head the festival. He has spent not one or two years, but nearly 6 decades at this hotel and says this is going to be the beginning and end of his career. 

As always, I was quite curious to hear his story, his experiences and he clearly told us “after the meal, not before”  with a chuckle. Walking around the buffet spread, he told us of the various dishes, the base, the preparations… And what I discovered during the dinner was the dishes I had eaten during my Sri Lanka trip were just a teeny tiny percentage of the veg dishes. The one thing I remember from my trip was that people would blow us away with dishes the minute we mentioned “we are pure vegetarians”, but we did have to mention no fried fish, cos they tend to sprinkle a generous handful on top of every dish..lol.. 

The dishes ranged from flavoured rice, unpolished rice, egg appams to koththu parota for the mains and the sides ranged from a raw mango gravy to long beans curry to a pumpkins cooked in mustard gravy. And then ofcourse there was a section of their sambol – veg and non veg versions, each one teasing our taste buds. The flavours were distinct, and we happily dug in, being greedy taking it all in. The food was cooked with simple spices, and it was interesting to note that the vegetables retained their colour and had a gentle bite to them [ just the way I like them] Chef mentioned there were 350+ veg dishes. Yam had about 56 varieties, similarly bananas and mango. So there was no dearth for vegetarian food. He also told us about the use of Goraka [Kodukkaippuli in Tamil] for many meat based dishes. The desserts were familiar flavours – vatalappam, the Kiri pani and another dish that was crisp and had a subtle flavour with every bite. We did finish off the meal with hot filter kaapi.
What had me fascinated apart from the lip smacking food was Chef’s journey from Coal carrier to Director Culinary Affairs at Mount Lavinia Hotel. I did not visit the hotel, but remember boarding the train from the station near the place.  He has literally made his way up the ladder and has been conferred with President’s Award and, recently, the Deshabandu Award for distinguished services to the nation, by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. He has published over 23 books, one of which is a tiny one that found a place in the Guinness book of world records. He showed us the book that contains 40 recipes fit for a King [you need magnifying glass to read the text on it] and then there was another one slightly bigger in size. He wants the Sri Lankan food to be remembered and cherish much after his time as well, that is is only dream~! 

It is fabulous how ITC Grand Chola keeps doing new things, bringing down Chef’s from specific regions thereby giving us an opportunity to not only savour different flavours, but listen to stories and experiences from world over.. 

This festival is on till the 16th September for dinner. 
Approx price is Rs2200 + tax [per person]

ITC Grand Chola 
#63, Mount Road, Guindy, 
Ph- 044 2220 0000

Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember these were just my views!! Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit 🙂
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