Ga Xao Hot Dieu, Summer Collection
The Spice Route
ough y thr urne Jo
The art of Indian culinary skill has its own history to narrate. But to enjoy tantalizing foreign cuisines in the atmosphere of its respective origin is a rare experience. Dipti. P takes you in a matchless journey to The Spice Route, the home of the finest South East Asian Cuisine, at ‘The Imperial’ hotel, New Delhi. Get transported to the wonderful and mysterious world of the Malabar Coast in Kerala through Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Indonesia to Thailand and Vietnam.
was graciously received by the Assistant Manager (Public Relations), The Imperial, Ms. Ruchi Jain and was led to The Spice Route- the South-East Asian Restaurant & Courtyard. Thai robed angels offered the traditional welcome in the fashion of Namaste by folding their palms upon entering. Comfortably led and seated, Ruchi enlightened me and my partner about the ambience of the visually enthralling restaurant.
mangoes and a host of other ingredients such as spices and citrus we have created exotic flavour combinations that will amuse the palate in surprisingly delicious ways.”
The Spice Route
Yum, Yummy, Yummiest – The Food!
Meet the Chef!
“The architectural marvel offering a unique dining experience in a distinctively beautiful setting was constructed within a period of seven years. The layout is symbolism of Human Life,” explained Ruchi. Soon Chef de Cuisine, Veena Arora joined us. Indian by origin, Chef Veena was born and brought up in Thailand as her father settled in the country during the Second World War. After getting married to an Indian, she migrated to India and started working for many 5 star properties as a Thai cuisine expert and consultant. She joined The Imperial as their Consultant Chef for the yet to be opened ‘The Spice Route’ in 1996. Ever since then she has been attached with the restaurant. All along sharing her experience in developing the Thai cuisine at the Spice Route, she said, “Somebody suggested me that like in fashion there are different collections for every season and why not then there be a similar kind of a thing with food. So we came with the ‘Summer Collection’ which we have been practicing for a while now.” The humble chef adds, “It is summer and so the celebration has to be of the king of fruits – MANGO! With
There is nothing like it when the creator of the food is dining and ordering with us and for us. Chef Arora took us step-by-step with each dish in the menu. For ‘Appetizers’ we had – YUM MAMUANG - a spicy and tangy fresh grated raw mango salad and YUM SAAM KLER– delicious shredded raw mango, raw papaya and carrot salad, flavoured with palm sugar and light soy sauce and garnished with crushed peanuts. For ‘Soup’ she ordered TOM YUM PHERN MERNG, a spicy hot and sour clear vegetable (for vegetarians) or chicken flavoured with coconut cream, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir leaves. It was surely an absolute delight for my sore throat! After gulping it down while continuing in a mind boggling chat about South Indian, Sri Lankan and Thai cuisines with her, we compared and contrasted with different recipes and agreed how apt the restaurant was named ‘The Spice Route’ and then it was time for feasting down the ‘Main Course’. The chef, after a quick approval with everybody’s taste and palate, ordered – PLA – E – SAAN, a crispy fried fillet of sole served with spicy palm sugar and garnished with slivers of raw mango, GA XAO HOT DIEU– delectable Vietnamese style stir-fried chicken (for non-vegetarians) or vegetables with fresh mangoes and cashew nuts, AMBA CURRY – (my personal favourite), a Sri Lankan raw mango curry, WOON SEN
Chef Veena Arora- Chef de Cuisine at The Imperial
MAMUANG – wok fried bean vermicelli with vegetables and fresh ripe mangoes (which was absolutely unique), CHEF’S SPECIAL RICE– (light on the stomach), Jasmine rice with ripe mango cooked in coconut milk, and MAAMBALAM APPAMS – Kerala style traditional rice flour bread with fresh mangos – (my partner’s much-loved dish! And a note from me to all south Indians – You HAVE got to try this!). Phew! It was time to say to the chef – I am full! But wait! How could the journey end without desserts!! So even if you are fully satiated, DO NOT miss the desserts! On the summer menu, the restaurant offers – KHANEOW MAMUANG and ICE CREAM MAMUANG. While the first is sticky rice beautifully presented in the serving plate with ripe mangoes garnished with roasted sesame seeds and the latter is mango ice cream served with water chestnut and coconut cream, topped with mint sprig! Even when I knew I had to take notes to share these with our readers, I didn’t put down my bowl of the delicious ICE CREAM MAMUANG. Hey, I wrote it down after I finished it! The dishes are flavoursome and stuck to the tradition of South Asian flavours. The innovative approach of Chef Veena adds more flavour to the
June 2012 |
| June 2012
cuisine and the outside world is a bit missed from the head.
Detour – Ambience
After the delicious lunch, I was taken on a detour of the ambience. Every corner is decorated with a display of South Asian culture and the exotic nature makes one forget the outside world for a moment. “In a narrow path a soul enters the world while its exit too is in a narrow path,” informed Ruchi about the narrow entrances and exits. The layout of the dining area is impressive, extraordinary and stirring. The visually appealing haven is designed on the principles of Feng Shui. It is divided into nine different sections representing each part of the journey of life. Entirely hand painted with vegetable and flower dyes by mural painters brought in especially from a temple in Guruvayur in Kerala with a tradition dating back to 3000 years, one starts journey with the Knowledge section at the entrance thronged by four 16th century pillars from a temple making a narrow entrance. The second section signifies the three stages of life – Artha, Kama and Moksha, viz. materialism, lust and the ultimate salvation. The mural in this section has paintings depicting materialism and illustrations from Kamasutra. The ceiling in this part of the Restaurant represents salvation attained through hardships just as you need to cross the hurdles of the beams covering the ceiling and concentrate to see the complete picture within. The third section is that of Help and Support and shows off an antique ceiling from Kerala, unique in the aspect that it lets the sunlight in but not the rain. The fourth section, closest to the kitchen, denotes Creativity. A statue and painting of Annapurna (the goddess of food reserves) is placed before the kitchen and all the food enter the dining area pass before her symbolising the blessings of the Goddess. The fifth section represents Relationship, which is demarcated by two-seaters and with antique beams in Rosewood and Burma Teak Wood. The Fate and Fortune section with its ‘Wall of Fortune’ is the next. The wall symbolises fate and destiny which are denoted by nine planetary movements. Seventh is the Wealth section, embellished with 24 karat gold leafing on the wall and the ceiling. Ornate hangings made of gold hang besides palm leaf shaped gold leafs on which inscribed are manuscript of Ramayana in ancient Pali script. These are glasscased and one can enjoy its display. The eighth section – the Ancestral indicating the end of
| June 2012
the journey of life – has replicas of the panels from various Thai temples. The ‘courtyard’ in the middle of the restaurant is the Food and Health section which blends the architectures of a Thai and Kerala home. There is a boat made of single teak wood piece and the many other pieces besides give the atmosphere of living in a traditional surrounding. The Courtyard transports the guests to the wonderful world of Southeast Asia. Adorned with traditional Thai sculptures from the Chiang Mai region in northern Thailand, the Courtyard is visually appealing. A picture perfect water body with floating candles and thoughtfully strewn petals form the centre of the Courtyard. The far end of the pavilion has traditional ‘Khantok’ seating for six under an Oriental pagoda. Both Chef Veena and Ms. Ruchi saw me and my partner off and it was a rare and memorable experience. It is a must visit for those having fine tastebuds with cravings for a visual treat. n
Summer Collection Menu: 15th May till 30th July 2012 The Spice Route, at The Imperial, New Delhi Meal for two: ` 6,000 + taxes For reservations contact: 011- 41116605
Yum Pla Merk Mamuang
The Spice Route