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This can be an unlikely and late Valentine’s Day gift for your partner. It might not have a fancy French name,but it’s a tongue twister all right. Pazhaam Paysam.

Written by Premankur Biswas | Published: February 18, 2009 2:55:22 am

Full-bodied spices and meaty curries make Chettinad cuisine the most sexed-up of all South Indian cuisines

This can be an unlikely and late Valentine’s Day gift for your partner. It might not have a fancy French name,but it’s a tongue twister all right. Pazhaam Paysam. Okay,so a Chettinad dessert may not be your idea of an aphrodisiac,but you need to take a spoonful of this creamy concoction to change your mind.

What makes it so seductive? For starters,look at the color: a creamy beige,it positively screams out to be caressed. Secondly,the smell: there is no smell greater,in all of cooking,than the full-bodied aroma of cream mixed with kewda essence. And,finally,the effect: the resulting dish is quite satisfying,but not heavy at all. You’ll have so much energy for a post-dinner romp,even Cupid would blush at the result.

The ongoing Chettinad food festival at the ITC Sonar springs many such surprises. Fluffy kal dosas (steamed pancakes) served with spicy meen kazambhu (tangy fish curry),idiyappams (a variety of rice noodles) tempered with saucy uppukaris. After all,Chettinad cuisine is a delight for those who like their food spicy and hot. Spices and herbs like coriander,cumin,pepper,fenugreek and of course the quintessential curry leaves,blend together to give this cuisine a pungent streak.

Moreover,the Chettinad cuisine debunks one of the most unreasonable myths pertaining to South Indian cuisine,that people who live south of the Vindhyas are mostly vegetarian. Sea food and meat form an integral part of Chettinad household as is evident by the no-fuss dishes like meen varuval (fish stew) and mutton pepper fry,which were served at the festival.

However,one may find exception to the limited variety of dosa or uthhapam and the fact that none of them quite as fiery for the connoisseurs of spicy food. But the array of chutneys served as accompaniments with the dishes makes up for that and not many would mind focusing on other goodies such as settu soup (lentil extract flavoured with spices and garnished with cauliflower and beans) and the fiery rasam . The fish curries along with innovative desserts like the pumpkin halwa and the aforementioned payasam make the mood upbeat. So go ahead,indulge

The Chettinad Food Festival is on at Eden Pavilion,ITC Sonar till February 28. A meal for two will cost Rs 2100

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