The Malabar food fest packs surprises for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians

Tradition reigns supreme as far as the palate goes in the ongoing Malabar food festival at Periyar.Whether it’s vegetarian or non vegetarian, the rich coconut milk taste and the golden colour of the curries bathed in the milk truly whets your appetite. Yes, it’s full of small diced pieces of vegetables and the masala is not harsh on the tongue or stomach.

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The commonest and most loved, the chicken biriyani, has succulent pieces and the spices are moderately added, so that you don’t get the aroma a mile off, but when you do get to taste it, your nose is pleasantly tickled with the spice combo. You are spared the bright yellow colour associated with biriyani, too. It isn’t oily and like Oliver Twist, you tend to ask for more.

For hardcore meat eaters, the beef fry, dark brown and pretty dry, but soft, beckons. Eat it with the ‘national’ food of Keralites, porotta, layered and hot. Maida may be bad for health, but then, there is always an exception, when it comes to ‘naadan’ or ‘native’ food.

At this Malabar Food festival, both groups are treated to six varieties of dishes each. There is fish, prawn, mutton, chicken and beef for those who feel food means something to bite off and mango avial, drumstick curries, thorans of many vegetables and vegetable kurmas for the pure vegetarians.

Desserts are truly interesting. The chatti pathiri tastes very native. Like a sandwich, the filling of coconut and jaggery is great. Instead of bread, you have something that tastes like a first cousin of porotta, again, very Malabari and original. The muttamala, neiyyappams, and the routine unnakkai add to the dessert fare. In the settings made to look like a teashop, you have tea, measured in yards too, to complete the picture.