MANY DECADES AGO AT a banquet, I had that transformative across-a-crowded-room moment – clear as a raga interpreted by Aruna Sairam. It came in the form of a neat heap of white rice and a brief pour of enigmatic rasam.
It was as though every grain had been selected to tell its own story. Every time-honoured ingredient in the rasam was specially selected to consort with every grain in a unique way upon the palate.
After the third spoonful, the music dissolved, figures around me fluffed into soft focusand I remember turning to the person next to me and saying, “I could eat this for the rest of my life.” I had tried out some papadum and crisp fried ladies’ finger along with it and followed it up with curd rice and then a dash of paysam, keeping with the theme. In all my experiences till then, few feast food configurations came anywhere close to the absolute sense of this.
So we’ll freeze right here. Why was that extraordinary? All of these ingredients and spices were food groups I was pretty much acquainted with since childhood. I should have been jaded, instead I was centred. Rice and rasam is not really comfort food like khichdi; instead it keeps you light and sharp enough to take on an army (or maybe just the traffic). It takes us back to Indian culinary fundamentals which are ultimately directed by Ayurveda. To rules that advise a combination of six tastes at every meal, an understanding of ambient energies and internal balances
I know many who wonder why there couldn't be more venues offering a grounded yet joyous feast based on our well-preserved, vegetarian heritage. With the launch of Royal Vega at ITC Grand Chola last year, this wish has been answered. Royal Vega has now launched an Arusuvai Vrindhu menu. Arusuvai Vrindhu translates from Tamil to 'a feast of six tastes'. Through an array of 18 outstanding vegetarian dishes, Arusuvai Vrindhu showcases the harmony that can be achieved with the six tastes through a masterful orchestration of carefully sourced ingredients presented on one plate, with an emphasis on retaining natural flavours through an informed use of local spices and techniques.
It's 100% locavore, luxurious and responsible. What's more, it's something of a degustation feast of the entire spectrum of flavours at Royal Vega. Follow the strains of the veena, head over to Royal Vega and ask for it by name – Arusuvai Vrindhu.