Medley of regional flavours and gastronomic delights

Palate Tickling

Delhi is any foodie’s delight. From the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk to the posh localities of the City, great food is available everywhere.

But the national capital is primarily dominated by North Indian cuisine – dal makhni, tandoori chicken, butter naan, kadai paneer, which have become the staple food for Delhiites.

Another reason which makes a Delhiite scale high on the ‘food metre’ is his experimental nature –- for him, the dish just has to be tasty! And proving to be a bonanza of sorts is the ongoing Surajkund Mela. The lively Mela which is featuring hundreds of stalls selling various handicraft and handloom items also has got numerous food joints to tantalise the palate of Delhiites – from Rajasthani food stall to Punjabi stall offering authentic cuisine, the Mela has got everything under its roof.

One of the stalls which is attracting a lot of crowd is the Goa food stall – Bernardo’s. And why not? After all, the best of non-veg dishes are available here. Attired in the typical flower-print Goan shirts, the volunteers at the stall treated everyone to mouthwatering authentic Goan dishes ranging from Prawn Recheado, Masala Fried Prawns, Temparade with rice, Chourico with pao and the popular Goan fish
and prawn curry.

Talking to Metrolife about his stall, C Fernandes, the owner, said, “It is a maddening situation here – managing the kitchen and the increasing orders. The most popular
dishes here are the Goan fish and prawn curry with rice. People are really loving it.”
Talking about the basic ingredients used in these dishes, his wife who is also supervising the workers in the kitchen, said, “Goan food is very spicy and the basic ingredients used are chillies and vinegar along with coconut milk and other spices.”

As we all know, Goa is hugely influenced by the Portuguese, and hence the definitive style of cooking and eating. While the authentic Goan food, as preferred by the locals is extremely fiery, the food served at the shacks and various restaurants is mellowed down to cater to the Western palate.

One of the tastiest dishes was the Peixe Recheado made from a whole fish filled with recheio masala, i.e., red chillies and spices ground in Goan vinegar and then shallow fried. Another hit is the prawn dish, Caldinho de Camarao. In this, the prawns are cooked in a mild yellow curry, lightly spiced with green chillies, onions and simmered with coconut milk. Other than these, the traditional Goan fish curry, Caril de Peixe cooked with ground spices, coconut milk and flavoured with Kokum is a sure winner.
Amidst so many Indian food stalls there was only one international stall and that too by the ‘theme country’ – Sri Lanka.

Channa Fernando, operations manager of The Sovereign Corporate Hotel, who attended on us, served a Sri Lankan thali.

Plain rice was served with boiled potatoes sautéed with onions, red chilli, curry leaves and mustard. Somehow flavours of the spices couldn’t satisfy the taste buds. But there was something spicy in the thali- ‘Brinjal Moju’.

“It tastes like a pickle- sour, tangy and spicy,” says Channa. Giving a brief description about the recipe, he says, “Sliced brinjals are mixed with turmeric powder. It is deep fried until it is golden brown and then mixed with mustard seeds, cloves, vinegar, chilli powder and salt. Some sautéed onions and green chillies are also added to it.”
Also, there was a dish made from pounded masoor dal which was not thick and lacked the distinctive flavour of coconut milk.

The next item served by Channa was ‘Kottu Egg’. For the vegetarians, the food stall had the option of ‘Vegetarian kottu’ too. As the name sounded interesting so was it preparation. “Kottu is made from a type of bread which is paper thin. It is called ‘godamba roti’,” explains Channa. 

“The roti is first shredded. Generally, people in Sri Lanka tear it apart with their hands but chefs usually choose a much louder method. They lay the bread on top of a heated iron grill pan and chop it apart with large metal cleavers,” says Channa, as one of the chefs in front of us  demonstrates the process.

To it, shredded cabbage, carrots, ginger and garlic along with cumin, red curry powder, and seeded chili peppers was added.  Since it was ‘Kottu Egg’, two eggs
were beaten and poured over it and shredded. “Those preparing meat kottu typically sear the meat before adding the vegetables and spices. The bread is often added in the last few minutes of cooking to prevent it from becoming soft and limp,” informs the stall manager.

Another egg dish was ‘Egg Hoppers’ or crispy, bowl-shaped pancakes made with rice flour, over which an egg is broken as it cooks.

So, if you have an appetite to try out new dishes that are a gastronomic delight, Surajkund Mela is the place to head to.

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