Ghee candles. The bar meets the gongura. And a citrus coconut? ITC Grand Chola’s gourmet dining space for fine South Indian cuisine, Avartana, recently introduced some highly anticipated additions to its five menus. And our taste buds quivering with impatience have been rewarded with poetry on every plate.
Creation of a menu
The new dishes, which were served at an exclusive tasting lunch recently, have been around for two years. Senior Executive Chef Ajit Bangera, the man behind the innovation, tells us, “The selection process for each dish requires multiple approvals. The balance of taste and texture is sacrosanct. What we are discovering is no exaggeration, especially since as he points out it is important to create an impact with every dish which in some dishes is only one or two bites.
Like the new accord of pork and banana flavors. On top of a black rock is a pork cracker. It is topped with a sweet mash of yellaki bananas, pork belly and Salem pepper for the slightest touch of spice. Two bites, and the dish is ready. But we’re talking about it for the next two weeks, eager to revisit the perfect romance of sweet and savory with ingredients we never imagined together, until now.
We slide through 12 dishes with the restaurant’s signature distilled rasam by our side. If they could bottle this in a wine bottle, let’s tell Chef Bangera, our Christmas presents for the season would be decided here and there. There’s a pumpkin patty filled with a decadent butter emulsion and crackling curry leaves. A crisp jackfruit seed donut with tempered pineapple chunks and spoonfuls of pepper jam. And later, Mini Appams sit nicely next to a green pool of rich cilantro sauce. It’s a stark contrast to the crispy edges of the charcoal-marinated chicken it’s served with.
The ghee place
We also have the chance to revisit the now famous’ghee candle ”(from a previous menu) which arrives in a different avatar this time, placed next to a raw mango pudding. Wait for the flame to go out, then stir this ghee into your pudding for a sweet joy. The best is saved for last. The dessert is a ‘citrus coconut’ that looks like the real thing, down to the smallest detail like sparkling dewdrops. Accompanied by a scoop of coffee ice cream, this one is a spectacle if ever there is one.
Meal for one: from 2000 INR ++