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Uttara Kannada Stories @ ITC, Gardenia

More often than not, you get invited to a Food Festival upholding the tradition and the gastronomic significance of the very State we live in. The Uttara Kannada Stories, showcasing the best of delicacies from North Karnataka is one such event currently running at the Cubbon Pavilion, ITC Gardenia.

North Karnataka has myriad influences in food from the neighbouring state of Maharashtra. The dishes here feature abundant use of Black Pepper and Red Chilli in their curries. Also the use of Cashew, Coconut and Jackfruit is common. Being the seat of many an intrusion from the Marathas to the British, these authentic flavours retain and evolved from the Vijayanagara Empire to where it stands today. Every dish is iconic, a supreme epitome of history mixed with all the influences this zone has witnessed through the centuries.

I started at the luxurious and flamboyant Highland Nectar with a celebratory drink, an award winning Cocktail inspired by the famous Tom Kha soup by their very own mixologist Harry Simon Peter. We were grooving to the lilting tunes of the glamorous Ruth Rebecca and Tanya before we proceeded for dinner.

The Appetisers consisted of the traditional Mutton Sukke, Kane Rawa Fry and an eclectic Meen Sukke. The meat was tender and the marination just perfect to satisfy the palette of a demanding foodie like me.

We then moved on to the Mains where first mention needs to be made of the traditional Vegetarian dishes. I started my culinary journey with the Kunabalakai Majjige Huli, a traditional tangy Yoghurt gravy with White Pumpkin. This is a must for many weddings and ceremonies across Southern India and has its roots in North Karnataka. The Maninanu Gojju is a Ripe Mango dish cooked with Green Chillies and Coconut paste. Its sweet and sour taste was unique and experience-worthy. The Kesavuna Gedde Gojju, Colocasia curry with Mustard, Curd Chilli and various spices was the next delicacy that caught my attention. The tanginess of the dried chilli makes this dish unstoppable at one bite. Last but definitely not the least, the Halasina Saaru, Jackfruit in a creamy gravy catered to the experimental foodie in me. Being not a big fan of Jackfruit, this traditional dish was something I really savoured. Its thick and creamy textured partially owing to its primary ingredient added to the flavour and left a lasting impression on me. I am quite sure, Jackfruit has never tasted so good.

The Non Vegetarian dishes were calling my name. As I served myself some King Fish curry, I waited eagerly to taste the Alentejane Pork and Clams. This is a unique dish comprising of Clams and lean Pork in a traditional Tomato Gravy found only in North Karnataka. Undoubtedly the Dish of the Night with its mix of eclectic flavours and authentic spicy ingredients. The Bendakaya Yesti Saaru, Fresh Prawns and Okra cooked together in roasted Masala was another delicacy that adorned the spread. I ended my Non Vegetarian exploration in the traditional Uttara Kannada style with some Kothmir Mamsam Saaru, succulent Lamb chops in a tangy Coriander Gravy. Unlike any known variety of Mutton, this dish features a generous usage of Black pepper to accentuate its flavours. In less orthodox households, Garam Masala can also be added to add new twist to the dish.

I ended my culinary affair with a generous serving of the misfit Pavlova, a Russian favourite. I was so tempted by it that I totally forgot to explore the desserts section where Kayi Holige and Gram Lentils Barfi stood tall. I am going back to simply savour the dessert section one more time. This unique festival is available for Dinner only at the Cubbon Pavilion, ITC Gardenia from June 28th through July 8th. A must for every Bangalorean, and for the ones like me who has made it their home of choice.

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