It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that, to most Indians, a meal without a curry dish is like life without a song. And it’s not just about a stew, as I’ve heard it been likened to, that makes rice or roti easier to swallow. The essence of a curry is as much about the contrast or complement it offers to the base food of rice or bread, as it is about its own complex character. Everyday curry-and-rice eaters will testify that this interaction between curry and rice, offers a new revelation to the palate every time. But many of us never get to discover the variations of curry and rice that lie outside our own family traditions. So here’s your chance: ITC Windsor, Bengaluru celebrates the expressive range, depth and charm of South Indian curries at The Dakshin Curry & Rice Fest at Dakshin.
Let me be clear though that curry is by no means the preserve of Indian cuisine: Japan’s most popular dish is the kare – a curry which consists of vegetables and meat – which is usually eaten along with rice. The German currywurst, eaten as a fast-food, is a sausage seasoned with curry sauce. But right now, I would like to bring our attention to some fascinating curries of South India that remain unknown to many within the country.
Particularly for culinary reasons, my trips to South India stand out among the several journeys I have taken across the country. Though South Indian curries can range from the disarmingly delicate to the fiery hot, the rich vocabulary of spices and flavours that the tradition draws upon makes for cuisine that is unfailingly charming and eloquent. The common themes across South Indian cuisines are rice, lentils, coconut and spices and it explores an array of souring agents through the use of ingredients such as kokum, tomatoes, tamarind and yoghurt.
For all the common elements in the cooking of the region, there are subtle yet defining variations in the cuisines of the four South Indian states that make each of them a unique adventure. The characteristic flavours of Tamil cuisine are accounted for by a blend of characterful spices such as tamarind, coconut, cumin, nutmeg and fenugreek. Lentils and legumes figure prominently in Tamil cooking and chances are, you have already savoured some of the state’s staple dishes such as sambar (a lentil stew), rasam (similar to sambar and prepared with tamarind and pepper) and kuzhambu (a stew consisting of pulses).
The cuisine of Karnataka, while diverse, is also probably the mildest among all South Indian cuisine and with its deep vegetarian tradition, it has a treasure trove of thrilling vegetarian dishes. The popular vegetarian fare from the Udipi region of Karnataka, is notable for its adherence to the Vedic tradition and some of its signature dishes include kosambari (made from lentils) and menaskai (a kind of sambhar).
Easily, the spiciest of all South Indian cuisine, the food of Andhra Pradesh makes liberal use of chilli powder and tamarind. While the basic meal is rice and sambar, it is popularly savoured with a range of hot chutneys and pickles. Pulihara (tamarind rice) stands out as a popular rice preparation in the state and a globally prized fragrant variety of rice known as Nellore, originates from this state.
As a coastal state, seafood finds significant representation in the cuisine of Kerala. Rice forms the base dish for most meals and popular accompanying dishes includeaviyal (a mix of vegetables, yoghurt and coconut), sambar and meen pollichathu(spicy steamed fish). Rosa matta rice (red rice), an unpolished rice, is a popular traditional favourite in the state.
At The Dakshin Curry and Rice Fest you can look forward to a compelling spread that features cherished regional favourites such as avere kaazhu saaru (Indian beans cooked in a curry of coconut and poppy seeds), chemmeen curry (prawn curry), and maamsa saaru (mutton curry).
For more information, please visit Gourmet Guide.