I can’t believe that it has been 15 years already! I remember when the ITC Sonar building was under construction, there was so much curiosity amongst the general public. That time, Kolkata did not have too many luxury hotels so we were all very excited. My first visit to ITC Sonar took place soon after they launched and it was a visit to Peshawri. For the last 15 years, it has been one of my favorite hotels so I felt really special when the management invited me to be part of their Crystal Anniversary celebration. On this special occasion, ITC Sonar has come up with a range of offers for their patrons. One of them is called 15 Hours Nostalgia where you basically spend 15 hours in the hotel experiencing luxury at its best.
ITC Master Chef Sakala Sankara flew in from ITC Kakatiya in Hyderabad last week to give us a taste of the rich, spicy and fiery cuisine of the state of Telengana. Flavors of Telengana, part of ITC’s Kitchens of India initiative was on till 21st February at the Eden Pavilion!
The menu was changed everyday during the course of the festival and Chef Sankara brought in a good mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian items. Being the carnivore that I am, I gorged on chicken, fish, prawns, mutton and liver on the day of the tasting. From the menu, these are the dishes I loved.
- Karjam Vepudu – This spicy fried lamb liver dish with onion, chilli and curry leaves was a major reason why I was so excited to go for the festival. I saw the picture in T2 and was literally salivating. Between the eight of us, we finished off three plates of this dish so you can very well imagine how good it was!
- Royyala Vepudu – Buttery soft melt in the mouth prawns cooked in a thick onion and tomato gravy. I had two servings of this
- Gongoora Mamsam – Hot and spicy mutton curry cooked with roselle leaves. The mutton was soft, succulent and cooked to perfection. The roselle leaves added a unique fiery and tangy flavor to the dish which made it so delicious
- Velluli Kodi – A garlic flavored chicken curry
- Ragi Sangati – Balls of steamed rice and millet mixed with ghee. Ragi Sangati is paired with gravies
- Chapa Pulusu Pulao – A spicy and tangy fish pulao
- Pachadis – Chutney/condiment that accompany all Telengana meals . There were three types, brinjal + tamarind, raw mango + garlic and tamarind+peanuts
- Basundi – Sweet thickened milk flavored with cardamom and nutmeg. Similar to our Bengali Payesh.
Vegetarian food and I, lets just say, we are not the best of friends. I recognize its value and worth but I find it extremely tough to have an entire meal that is purely vegetarian and enjoy it. But wonder of wonders, I savored an Uttam Bhoj at ITC Sonar early this week and I loved it! The Bhoj was courtesy Chef Gunjan Goela, a consultant with the ITC Hotels for Indian vegetarian specialty cuisine. Her forte is vegetarian cuisine of Old Delhi, developed after thorough research into the capital’s culinary history.
Till 7th June, ITC Sonar brings you Chef Gunjan Goela with her rendition of Uttam Bhoj, offering a wide range of vegetarian delicacies with a different flavour. It is an excellent combination of Rajasic food (that which excites the senses) and Sattvic food (which heals the senses), which after a meal gives one a complete feeling of satisfaction and gratification.
“You are going to meet David Rocco? You know nothing of cooking. Why did they call you? They should have called me. I watch all his shows regularly and would have loved to meet him. He is so good!”
That my friends, was an excerpt of a conversation I was having with my mum the day I got an invite to meet best-selling author, celebrity chef and host of two internationally syndicated television series, David Rocco. ITC Sonar, Kolkata is partnering with David for Season 2 of ‘Dolce India‘ and he was here last week to shoot a couple of episodes for the show and a ‘Meet and Dine with Chef Mayank and David Rocco‘ special event. And that is why I got to meet this very charming, very cool and very good looking man.
When I first met David, I could not help but share with him what my mum said and do you know what he said? He said, “Call up your mum. I want to talk to her. Just don’t say anything and hand over the phone”. And can you believe that my mum at that very moment chose to go for a shower leaving her phone behind! I must have called about 10 times without getting a reply! And by the time, the lady saw the missed calls, it was too late. Fate you see. It was just not in her destiny 🙁