Kappa Chakka Kandhari – Curtain Raiser

A ‘neo’stalgic gourmet event review.

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Kappa Chakka Kandhari…what is that???!!!! Sounds strange and funny, doesn’t it!!! Any Malayalee would definitely know the meaning of these words but only a typical Malayalee would know its importance. Kappa stands for tapioca, chakka – jackfruit and kandhari means bird’s eye chilli. A vegetable, a fruit and a chilli…. what’s all this about!!!

Once upon a time, these three were the main food items in any household in Kerala. But as time progressed and Kerala evolved, things changed. No one has any more time for the simplicities of life. Today, it’s all about fast food and take-aways. Kappa chakka kandhari feels like a long lost memory or a distant dream. And that is exactly why three wise men from Kerala, Chef Regi Mathew, Augustine Kurian and John Paul, got together and came up with this brilliant concept, a ‘neo’stalgic gastronomic journey back to our roots – Kappa Chakka Kandhari. They began their journey by travelling through the length and breadth of Kerala to sample the different foods and they came up with more than 80 dishes to showcase the authentic Kerala cuisine with great importance to these three staple food crops.

After conducting several successful food festivals in various parts of India, they are now coming to U.A.E. on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of February, 2017 at Expo Centre, Sharjah, powered by MS Events and Euphoria Events. I had the opportunity to be part of the curtain-raiser which was held on January 10th at the same venue. A big thank you to The Tasty Life for taking me along on this wonderful gastronomic journey.

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This event had around 40 dishes grouped into 5 themes :

  • Snehatheeram
  • Toddy shop memories
  • Meenachilarin theerathu
  • Thattum puttum
  • Madhurikkum ormakkal

Here, I will be introducing Snehatheeram to you. For the rest, stay tuned. Snehatheeram roughly translates to “a shore of love”. Indeed, all 11 dishes under this theme seem to show the undying love Chef Regi Mathew and his team have for the typical Kerala cuisine they grew up having.

Snehatheeram consisted of Beef cutlet, Kappa cutlet, Koorka ullarthiyathu, Syrian beef fry, Kappa biriyani, Mutton curry, Vattayappam, Tharavu mappas, Kadachakka curry and Pineapple curry.

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Beef cutlet – As expected, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and full of flavour. A sure hit among kids and adults.

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Kappa cutlet – It was my first time tasting a cutlet made from kappa and I must say, it was a wonderful surprise. Soft and tasty.

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Koorka ullarthiyathu (Roasted Chinese Potato) – I am a big big fan of koorka ullarthiyathu. This is one dish that my mom makes everyday everytime I go home to Kerala. Having it here felt like being at home. Cleaning and cutting koorka is a herculean task but no Keralite cuisine would be complete without this dish, atleast for me.

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Syrian beef fry – Soft, succulent, fried perfectly with the right amount of spices. An absolute haven for anybody who loves beef fry.

Kappa biriyani – A mixture of kappa cooked with spicy beef masala. Absolutely delicious and no Keralite cuisine would be complete without this dish. I’m sure you all will agree with me this time.

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Kadachakka curry – For those of you who don’t know, kadachakka is actually bread fruit and it looks like a junior relative of the mighty chakka. It is cooked with spices and coconut milk and makes an excellent combination with plain rice/chapathi/pathiri.

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Pineapple curry – This was an absolute refresher. The pineapple pieces were cooked thoroughly and the green grapes and pineapple came together to give a wonderful taste to the dish.

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Vattayappam – Kerala’s very own fermented steamed rice cake. It’s very common among the Christians of Kerala. Rice and grated coconut are ground together with yeast and then steamed to make this soft, fluffy, round dish. Most people usually make it very sweet. This was sweet enough but didn’t go overboard.

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But the highlight of the event was Absolute Kandhari. A concoction of kandhari and lemon juice topped with soda. It was so pungent that I didn’t dare to have beyond a sip. Unlike me, there were several people who had more than a shot. Hats off to you!!! Those of you who haven’t had a chance to try it, you should give it a go at the event but let me warn you, it ain’t for the faint-hearted.

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If you are drooling after reading this, then save the date and be there at Kappa Chakka Kanthari this February.

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