Fruit with a twist

Fruit with a twist

Panna surprise

There’s a lot that can be done with fruit — provided that it’s in good hands. And no one knows this better than Chef Uddipan Chakravarthy, at the Vivanta by Taj, Yeshwantpur.

tasty The range of pannas.

The chef has introduced a new menu of delightful cooling drinks at Paranda, one of the restaurants at the hotel.

These coolers are based on the traditional summertime drink aam panna — with a twist. Chef Uddipan has experimented with the fruity flavours and spice, using subtle techniques like smoking the fruit to coax out maximum flavour. He brings together ingredients that one wouldn’t normally associate with each other, blending them perfectly with spices so that the end result is a treat for the palate.

The inspiration behind this panna-based menu, explains Chef Uddipan, was to create drinks which matched the light, Indian food at the restaurant. “Besides, people look for change every time we came here. So we decided, given that it’s summer, that a panna menu would be nice. Panna is normally made with mango but we decided to experiment with other fruits,” he says.

The menu is fairly varied. Other than the traditional ambi panna, which is made with raw mango, black salt and pepper, there are other mango-based coolers such as bhuna aam — which is made with smoked, ripe mango and lemon coolant.

Annanas ki thandai, another popular choice, has a pineapple base — the fruit is roasted and then mixed with mint for a sweet, subtle flavour. The smoked fruits are generally kept in a tandoor for around 45 minutes, after which the pulp is scooped out, cooked and chilled again.

“We went completely berserk when coming up with new flavours. We came up with these through a trial-and-error method. We made around 15 drinks and I handpicked the best six by calling the heads of different departments at the hotel and asking them to taste the pannas. The menu is based on the response of different people,” says Chef Uddipan.

Another perfect choice for the summer is gul-aab, which is made with smoked rose petals, soaked subja drinks and sweetened, condensed milk. Meetha amrood ka ras, which, as its name suggests is made with ripe guava — with a dash of roasted cumin — is also a perfect way to beat the heat.

“All the flavours are brought out by maintaining the freshness of the ingredients,” explains Chef Uddipan, adding, “we make fresh batches every morning and ensure that the leftover drinks are discarded. This ensures that the drinks are always served fresh.”

Chef Uddipan is personally of the opinion that the kacha aam and guava-based drinks are the best — but one of the creations he’s proudest of is bhune shimla mirch ka panna, which is bade with capsicum and mint. The drink is delightfully refreshing with a slight peppery flavour that comes from the capsicum.

“All the flavours are very delicate — but that’s what we wanted it. The food we serve at ‘Paranda’ is very light — we use hardly any butter and cream — so to justify these dishes, we wanted light drinks,” he concludes.

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