From satays, grills and ‘samudrika lakshan’

It would be great if there was something like samudrika lakshan/shastra (knowledge of body characteristics) for chefs to judge a taster’s preferences just by seeing him, said a top star star chef.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as helping chefs impress their guests, he lamented.

“You can pretty much get to a person’s taste preferences if you know where they come from and also about the community. But by seeing one’s body characteristics, it’s not possible to say anything about taste bud preferences,” said Jaffar Ali, executive chef at Vivanta by Taj-Connemara, where he hosts a pan-Asian satay and grill festival.

Regarding the important qualities of a chef, he said: “A truly professional chef should not have any vices such as smoking or chewing chewing tobacco and also be in good health. Smoking and chewing tobacco products affects a person’s taste buds — one of a chef’s basic professional tools.”

In addition to good salaries and opportunities to see the world, good cooks have a few more basic qualifications to be a suitable boy for marriage, he laughed while serving a Tom Kha chicken soup.

He hosts the festival at the hotel’s 74-cover Hip Asia restaurant, which played soft music.

Forty-seven-year-old Ali is from the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu and spent several years in tourist ports such as the Maldives and the Seychelles. He recently joined the Vivanta Connemara.

The Thai soup, made with coconut milk as a base with chili and other spices, had a good amount of tender chicken pieces and was mild and tasty.

It was followed by a plate of shrimp satay. The grilled king prawns, marinated with spring onion paste, chilli and lemon leaf, were tender with medium spiciness and would tempt you for another round.

Coming from a family interested in food and flavors, Ali attended a catering technology course after his brother-in-law, who worked here at the Taj group, gave detailed explanations of the profession and prospects.

It was time for Yakitori, a Japanese non-spicy teppanayaki/iron plate grilled chicken cooked in Japanese soy sauce. According to Ali, the first five years of working in a fresher restaurant is a very tough grind, by which time you would not only have learned the kitchen work but also manage inventory and people and be ready to hit the road on your own .

At this point guest attendant S. Vijaymohan brought a full white pomfret cooked and dipped in garlic gravy.

The meaty fish and garlic gravy tasted divine and were off the plate in no time.

“This is a very competitive field where a person is judged not once a year like in any other profession or daily (like journalists), but on every board he sends to the dinner table in a shift. A good cook has to satisfy at least 95 percent of the guests,” says Ali.

He said that chefs are like chess players – who can visualize the board position 15 moves ahead.

Likewise, a good cook can mentally process the recipe and estimate what the dish would look like at the end, as well as tell whether the recipe is right or wrong.

Speaking about his plans for the restaurants in the hotel, Ali said that Hip Asia’s menu will be changed as the current menu is about two years old.

Meanwhile it was time for colorful lobster oyster garlic, Japanese sticky rice, Thai chicken green curry, egg rice and noodles.

The lobster was mild on the tongue and tasted great. It was interesting to see the thorny sensors and cooks have to be careful with lobsters.

The green curry with sticky rice was a good combination, while the egg rice and noodles were mild.

For dessert, Thai tub tim grob is recommended, a coconut milk dish with pink water chestnuts.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Where: Vivanta By Taj-Connemara is located on Binny Road near Anna Salai. Hip Asia is open for lunch and dinner.

The satays and grills are à la carte.

The festival started on July 24 and will last until August 2.

A meal for two costs about Rs.4,000 (without alcohol)

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