Sunday, March 30, 2008

Madras Matinee

Temple in ChennaiIt had rained the week before in Chennai. As I flew into Chennai, our cricket-crazy nation was watching the weather forecast with bated breath. They were hoping the rains wouldn't disrupt the first test match being played here with South Africa. Thankfully for India, the rains stayed away and Indian opener Sehwag smashed the fastest ever triple century!

Peshawari in Chola SheratonI didn't get to watch the exciting match; my entire day was filled with meetings. I stayed at the Chola Sheraton this time, a hotel that's past its prime. The lobby area, the bar and the Peshawari restaurant are great, but the rooms aren't. The corridors smelt of dampness due to insufficient air conditioning, and the rooms - though well-appointed - were a little cramped. However, their superior service did make up for this.

Kababs at PeshawariThe Peshawari is another of ITC Hotels branded restaurants and very similar to their flagship Bukhara's in New Delhi. The menu mainly consists of kababs, dal and breads and you are encouraged to eat food here with your bare hands.

Kulfi Falooda at PeshawariThe Peshawari kabab I ordered was made of boneless cubes of lamb seasoned with royal cumin, ginger-garlic and malt vinegar, and then chargrilled in a tandoor on skewers. The kababs were very succulent and tasty, as was their famous Dal Bukhara. The onion kulcha I had ordered was perfect too. For dessert, I had the kulfi-falooda (see pictures).

Fish at KumarakomThe hotel gets its name from the Chola dynasty which ruled parts of Southern India including Chennai until the 13th century. The Cholas were avid builders and left a lasting legacy through the many temples that adorn this region. The British entered this place in 1969 and went on to make this city, then called Madras, one of their key ports in India.

Incidentally, Chennai is also the one Indian city to come briefly under direct attack during the World War.

Fish at KumarakomMy hosts took me out for lunch at a nearby restaurant, Kumarakom, that serves authentic Kerala cuisine. The ambiance is not upscale, but the food is awesome! I especially loved the fish preparations and the fresh fruit juices. During the evening I briefly stopped by at the much recommended Kaaraikudi Restaurant which serves authentic Chettinad food. Hot, spicy and great sea-food: I strongly recommend the crab-masala here as well as the Chettinad chicken with fluffy appams.

I flew Kingfisher both ways. Thankfully, the flights were on time and I was quite engrossed in Tarun Khanna's Billions of Entrepreneurs. The book is a recent one on how China and India are rapidly transforming themselves. What I found interesting were the contrasts he draws between China and India, and how some of the recent choices these nations have made have been driven by their unique histories.

After a pretty busy day in Chennai, I was glad to be back home for the weekend!

Here are some of my previous Chennai posts:


10 comments:

Kate / Kajal said...

i was last in Madras 6 yrs ago.My husbands grand mum lives in Egmore , had gone to visit her after we got married. It was a very diff experience for me.And oh yes i saw Sehwag make his triple century. Its a shame they drew the match.Cant wait for the ODI's.

Shantanu said...

@kate/kajal: Madras/Chennai (!) has changed quite a bit in the last six years. And yes, I am waiting for the ODIs too!

Zhu said...

Oh I hate stupid spammer (i.e post above..)

Anyway, sorry to say, but I think I'd choose a meeting over a cricket game anytime! :D

Love the top picture... very original. Yummy food as usual... can we have a meeting together one day? Want some food too ;)

Shantanu said...

@zhu: Will be a pleasure to meet you, as long as it is not in your igloo...ha, ha! Does Canada ever warm up? :-)

Alameen said...

have a pleasant stay in chennai..

Cheers
~Al

Shantanu said...

@alameen: I am back in Pune now. But expect to be in Chennai very frequently now. So if you have recommendations on where to eat, drop me a line!

Deepti said...

All the description of food, wants me to go to Kerala for an authentic meal ... :)

Shantanu said...

@deepti: As you can see, I had awesome Keralite food, but in Chennai! Have to try the 'authentic' food some time...

backpakker said...

your post makes me miss home..Im going there next week ..

lakshmi

Shantanu said...

@backpakker: Thankfully it is cooler this time than usual. :-)