Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Aqua Fest 2013 @ Karavalli, Bangalore

Bangalore has been witnessing this event every year for the past 23 years. A correction - past 22 years and this year; starting 15th November till the 30th November, Karavalli - housed in Taj Gateway and voted as Bangalore’s best coastal restaurant is hosting Aqua Fest 2013.

This festival offers sea food lovers to choose from 18 to 20 types of sea food dishes which are new creations for the festival with one or more likely to make their way into the regular menu. Interacting with Chef Naren who has been with Karavalli for 23 years, we learnt that the fest happens particularly during this time of the year for the very reason that a variety of fresh sea food is easily available during this period.

We were seated outdoors and in front of lay the menu for the evening. It had a listing of delicacies from the western coast of India. In terms of sea food there were 4 types of fish, clams, baby octopus, mud crab and tiger prawns. All of this in appetizers alone! For the mains, we had a prawn curry, a fish curry, Ramaserri idli, coin paratha and more. 

Yes! we ate all of this but it didn't end there. There were desserts too - Bebinca, Banana-Caramel ice cream, dodhol and payasam. 

Yet again, this was not all. We were also served some speciality preparations which were outside of the menu. Surprises in terms of food, food history, facts and knowledge kept springing up again and again over the course of our meal and conversations for nearly 3.5 hours.

What we ate:
The start was customary - A small portion of jaggery was provided to cleanse our palate and prepare it for the fabulous food that was about to arrive.

The appetizers arrived one after the other and we were only mesmerized even more with every passing dish. The stars for me that evening were:

‘Kuttanandan Karuvapila Konju’ – Tiger prawns pan fried with onion, tomato and fresh curry leaves. The ingredients are simple yet when I did dig into this dish, I was literally on a food high. I was just one bite into it and wished to have more of it. Yet, I restrained myself for there was a lot of food coming our way.

‘Kane Jeera Meera’ – Lady fish cooked in masala enhanced with freshly pounded peppers and cumin was outright delicious and succulent. My other favorites included ‘Tissryo Sukke’ – clams cooked in fresh ground coconut and goan spices. I love dishes that exude the sweetness of ingredients and at the the same time how the spices used bring out the contrasting spice flavors.
Lady Fish / Kane Fish
Clams Sukke

Clams were something I ate for the first time and so is the next dish ‘Octopus Uppumunchi’. My first time at it, I loved the texture which was very similar to calamari or squid rings. While the preparation was fabulous, the others were in all praise of the chef for the cooking, tenderness and the flavor just expressed the finesse of the Chef.

There was more fish – ‘Syrian Meen Roast’; kingfish marinated with Syrian masala and grilled. Shallots brought in a mild sweetness to the otherwise masaledar preparation.

There was also stir fried mud crab meat tossed with pepper, chili, butter and more. This was served in a crab shell and is called ‘ Caranguejos Pimento Fritto’. Though this was nice, I would have enjoyed it better if there was more crab meat in it. A mention of this to chef Naren and he brought out a really fascinating fact in no way trying to justify the preparation – Crabs during full moon nights tend to have lesser meat content for it is their mating season.

‘Fish Albardado’ – A fillet of pomfret deep fried with a coating of egg, onion and goan masala drew the least attention. Not that it was bad, in fact the preparation was really simple, and the fish was super fresh but all the other preparation over shadowed this simple dish.

We were not done with our meal yet. Our mains arrived – Tiger prawns in curry; a specialty of the fisher’s island of Vypeen , Kochi, Kerala and the classic fish curry of Mangalore. Both these curries were eaten in the company of Ramasseri idli (specialty of Ramasseri a small village near Palakad) and coin paratha.

We were also served ‘Shevai Ani Refogado’ a preparation of mixed sea food with Shevai or string hoppers. This was mildly flavored to allow the natural flavor of the seafood to come alive.

In desserts, we were served, Bebinca, Dodhol, Elaneer Payasam and the show stopper Banana-Caramel ice cream. Do not give those looks.. Actually, even I did when I was first told that it is ‘Banana-Caramel ice cream’. Believe me, when I and the rest of us ate it; we wished it did not finish. I loved it so much that the chef has promised to bring me this ice cream before and after my meal at Karavalli every time I visit. Do I need to say more?

The ambiance here is fabulous; food is served in copper banana leaf shaped plates with of course a banana leaf laid on it. Having read Natasha’s blog, I completely second what she has written on her blog, “We were high on food; alcohol was neither served nor was it missed. Aqua Fest 2013 Preview night was just not to be missed.” I too recommend that you do not miss this opportunity to dine at Karavalli between the 15th to the 30th November; the duration through which the Aqua Fest 2013 is on. To really have a great experience and savor the most you can in one sitting, this restaurant is best visited in a larger group.

A meal for 2 at Karavalli will cost an average of Rs. 2500 plus taxes and charges and each penny is justified for the food (seafood), ambiance, service and the overall experience.

Quick Tips:
Do not miss the Aqua Fest 2013. It is on only until 30th November 2013.

Go in a group.

Go for – an experience of India’s western coast on your plate, banana-caramel ice cream

Address: Ground Floor, Gateway, Hotel No. 66, Residency Road, Bangalore
Phone Number: +91 80 6660 4545


No comments:

Post a Comment