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Mappila Food Festival, Courtyard Marriott Chennai

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I haven't been to Courtyard Marriott in Chennai for a while now. In a really long time. Somehow I didn't fancy it anymore and I was sad about it, because it used to be one of my favourite places, especially their brunch. I've turned down invites over the years and it completely erased itself from my memory. Until, I was told that Chef Shaji, who runs one of India's best restaurants has arrived for a food festival. The Kerala Mappila food festival, showcasing food from the Northern parts of Kerala. The festival left my friend and me reeling! Has Marriott Chennai redeemed itself? I think so.







It all started with the Nannari juice spiced with ginger. After a long day, the drink woke me up, almost like dunking myself in some cold water. Having quickly gotten from tired to refreshed mode, I looked around to make sure that I wasn't in Kerala. A local chai shop has been set up, complete with the syrup bottles, 'Little Hearts' biscuit packs and chai!

A fresh new buffet counter was set up with live puttu, appams, an entire section dedicated to four types of kerala chips and at least a dozen pickle varieties.

The humble looking Kozhi Varattiyadhu on the buffet counter got to my plate and while waiting for the puttu to get ready, I took a bite of it. It simply exploded in my mouth. Soft, succulent and all things South, the little chicken dish presented the chef's skill on a pedestal. Taking a simple, yet flavourful dish and taking it a notch above, wow. There was a nice fish dish and few spicy mushrooms, but the starters counter belonged to the chicken.

The three courses of main dishes, each competing with the other made this a buffet with little to choose between. I started with the puttu. The chef suggested we try it with both chicken and prawn gravies. The puttu blended with both, beautifully. The first bite with loads of puttu and a little bit of the prawn mango gravy didn't go well. But the minute I added some more gravy, the dish grew in stature. The opposite was true for the beef. Just a tinge was all it required to elevate the puttu.

My next course, the biriyani, was a surprise. While we are used to eating it with fried chicken, here it was a short-grained-rice mutton biriyani with a juicy beef fry and a variety of chips, the caramelised version being my favourite. I found a new companion for the wet Kerala biriyani and the beef didn't disappoint. The soft kerala appams with the stew didn't disappoint either. Desserts are sparse, but the Kerala version of the Ice Katchang and the elaneer payasam, did just about enough to close dinner.

On till the 20th of May,  Chef Shaji has made this one of the best food festivals in recent times in Chennai. And now, I am looking forward to exploring more of Marriott! How will their brunch be? They revolutionised the buffet in Chennai, a decade ago. Fingers crossed!

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Chennai Foody: Mappila Food Festival, Courtyard Marriott Chennai
Mappila Food Festival, Courtyard Marriott Chennai
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Chennai Foody
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