Chef Arshdeep and Chef Varun’s Southern Sojourn

Each year on the 20th of October we all celebrate the International Chefs Day. This year was no different but ITC Gardenia celebrated this whole week (Oct 20 – Oct 25) with a twist. ITC is known for being a step ahead of its contemporaries and leaves no stone unturned to promote the rich Indian food and culture.

This time the occasion was huge and the baton was passed on to Chef Arshdeep and Chef Varun of Cubbon Pavilion. On this International Chefs Day or rather week, ITC decided to treat its diners with an authentic taste of cuisine from the glorious states of the Deccan Plateau which extends over eight Indian states; in particular the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are on this plateau.

The two young and dynamic Chefs – Arshdeep and Varun will definitely leave you spellbound with the distinct flavours, authentic spices and an unparalleled heritage. These two have put their foot forward and has whipped some lip-smacking dishes.

The menu curated is limited but extremely impressive. For starters, they have chosen two each of veg and non-veg delicacies: Tiffin Bento and Bun Nipattu Masala for the veggies whereas Allam Kodi and Prawn Kuzhi Paniyaram.

Tiffin Bento with Kuzhi Paniyaram, Karampodi idli and Maddur Vada served with two chutneys was a true delight in every sense. Being a non-vegetarian, it feels great when I am served with such brilliant veggie delicacies.

Tiffin Bento

The same goes for Bun Nipattu Masala. This is quintessential street food from Bengaluru but when served at ITC, there has to be a twist. The presentation made it look like a burger and how brilliant did that taste. This is where I rate ITC higher than other restaurant in these category. They certainly know how to pick a food from the streets, raise the level and make it five star standard.

Bun Nipattu Masala

Coming to the wilder side, Allam Kodi and Prawn Kuzhi Paniyaram was an absolute cracker of a dish. The former is a favourite from Telangana and is all about celebrating that awesome chicken with a strong essence of ginger and other distinct spices.

Allam Kodi 

The latter is an irresistible prawns stuffed dumplings. Now, someone please call the chef and kiss his hand. Both the chefs have nailed this one. That tail of the prawn coming out of the batter is an eye pleaser in every sense and with that green chutney it tastes something out of the world.

Prawn Kuzhi Paniyaram

Coming to the main course, the menu has whopping four non-vegetarian dishes and unfortunately just one for the green lovers.

Speaking about the meaty delight, the first up was Nati Kodi Saaru with Thatte Idli which is a succulent road runner in curry with tamarind, served with dish shaped idli. After those amazing starters, the chefs had pushed the expectation level a notch higher. And this totally leaves up to the prospect. This particular dish reflect two things about the Chefs – their understanding about the cuisine and their command over creating something extraordinary from it.

Nati Kodi Saaru with Thatte Idli

Next up was Kozhi Pidi and undoubtedly the highlight of the evening. This sensational Kerala chicken curry is served with rice dumplings tossed in coconut milk. This is the dish that diners remember for ages, this is the kind of food that makes its hotel proud. You look on the plate and all you can utter is WOW! The plate is divided in two parts which equally demands your attention. The one side is beautifully cooked chicken with crazy flavours and other side is rice dumplings in a pool of coconut milk. Take a spoonful of both together and you are bound to have foodgasms one after the other.

Kozhi Pidi

Another favourite of the evening was Mamsam Gojju with Sanas which is mutton as liked by natives, in a thick curry with steamed dumplings. This was nothing extraordinary but boy oh boy how beautifully that mutton was cooked. Again, what makes this dish good is the spices used to cook the mutton for a long time.

Mamsam Gojju with Sanas

The last dish was Idiappam Prawn Biryani, a quirky dish of flavourful shrimps layered with idiappams. We decided to skip this as we were already full by now but I am sure this would have another cracker from the master wizards.

As mentioned earlier, there is just one item in the main course for the green lovers but trust me when I say, it really rocks the solo act just like Salman in his movies. This is one dish (Bili Holige Godambe) which I would recommend my vegetarian friends to definitely try.

Bili Holige Godambe

Why you ask? Have you imagined how would a Tindli (yes Tindli) and cashew masala in a local pancake of wheat and rice taste? No? Well, all I can say is both Chef Arshdeep and Varun is a genius and has guts to creatively think this concept and present it on the table leaving the diners run out of words. They called this dish.


Dreamer, Blogger, Writer, Foodie, Movie buff, Public Relations. Contributor for The New Indian Express and recently started a news publishing website 'Unkrate'.

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