By Venkatachari Jagannathan, Chennai, Aug 21 IANS | 2 months ago

It's an heirloom Anglo-Indian cuisine food festival at the Vivanta by Taj-Connemara, a top chef said, proudly showing a 108-year-old notebook containing recipes of a bygone era.


"The deciphering of the handwritten recipes in the notebook was the only challenge we faced while bringing back to life the dishes mentioned in it," Arzooman Irani, executive chef at Vivanta by Taj-Whitefield Bangalore, told IANS here.

He was here to host the "Chronicles of Whitefield" Anglo-Indian food festival at Vivanta by Taj-Connemara Chennai located on the Binny Road here at The Verandah restaurant Aug 22-31.

The Made in Austria note book contains the recipes of around 120 dishes.

"It was the family recipe book handwritten by Harry Blake, one of the original settlers of Whitefield near Bangalore. The notebook was handed over to us by his granddaughter," Irani said as he served a ginger wine.

The non-alcoholic drink surprised one with its sweetness - and the ginger flavour that followed.

What is unique about the dishes is that they are not very spicy nor are they bland. The dishes are very tasty, flavourful, mild and light on the stomach.

The only spicy item is the fried masala prawn which Blake himself has termed spicy prawn.

"The dishes are made with locally available ingredients. While Blake made his fish curry with the fish caught in the local lake/pond, the prawns came from Madras (Chennai)," Irani said.

He said the whereabouts of Blake's granddaughter are not known as she has shifted after her husband's demise.

"She gave us the notebook two years back. We started our work after that and launched the menu at our hotel in Whitefield recently," Irani remarked, adding that 35 of the 120 recepies were being served.

The ginger wine was followed by mulligatawny soup - a broth made with lentils and pepper. Blake gave a fruity twist to the soup by adding finely cut apples.

For the main course, Irani offered rice varieties - coconut, tomato, cabbage - along with vegetable stew, muttonball curry, country captain chicken curry and Blake's signature dish - Harry's fish curry.

The vegetable stew made with coconut was different from the Kerala variety, which is spicier than Blake's stew.

Similarly the muttonball curry and the country captain chicken curry were very flavourful and not spicy and could be safely consumed by children as well as adults.

The tasty fish curry gave out the good flavours of mustard.

"True the dishes are not very spicy. But this is how the Anglo-Indians settled in Whitefield cooked their food and ate. We also checked with other Anglo-Indian families there who said their dishes are not spicy," Irani said.

"For the present generation, we offer an experience. It is an experience of going back into the history and tasting the dishes made during those times," Irani said.

A meal for two, without alcohol, would cost around Rs. 3,500 including taxes, said Irani.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at v.jagannathan@ians.in)

(Posted on 21-08-2014)

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