“It’s great working on the festival. Initially, when I was told that I must come on board for this, I was slightly anxious since cooking in my kitchen and cooking for hundreds of people are two different things. But the chefs here helped me and so did my mom,” says home chef Vaishali.
Marriott Suites Pune is back with another food festival and this time around the hotel offers the best of Maharashtra on a plate. To ensure an authentic experience, three home chefs have joined hands with the hotel’s in-house chefs.
How did the idea come about? “We keep having regular get-togethers of the hotel staff and even potluck sessions. That’s how I got to know about a few of our staff members’ culinary skills and we decided to get them on board for this festival,” answers the hotel’s chef Praduman Bisht. He says that Marriott Suites’ aim is to go local and promote local cultures and food, and this step is in that direction. “Also, cooking local food saves costs as it needs local ingredients,” he adds.
The spread of food consists a mix of popular snacks and main course items. It will have some of the choicest Maharashtrian delicacies such as Pithla Bhakri, Sabudana Khichdi, Mataar Karanji, Masala Bhat, Narali Bhat, Kothimbir Vadi, Bombil Rawa Fry, Masala Khinga, Watanyachi Ussal, Tambada Rassa and much more. How did they decide on these items among the many Maharashtrian dishes?
“It was based on a lot of things. At our get-togethers, I found out who makes what best. For instance, our home chef Vaishali’s Sukha Mutton is to die for. So accordingly, we got three of our home chefs to prepare their specialities and put them down in our menu.” Also, Bisht says that he has lived in Maharashtra for more than a decade now, and has been involved in curating Maharashtrian wedding menus. He thus has an idea of what people like, helping him finalise the items in the festival.
Another home chef makes amazing bhakris, he tells us. So together it became a great combination of delicacies prepared by all three.
How has the experience for the home chefs been? “It’s great working on the festival. Initially, when I was told that I must come on board for this, I was slightly anxious since cooking in my kitchen and cooking for hundreds of people are two different things. But the chefs here helped me and so did my mom,” says home chef Vaishali, who has been working with another team at Marriott Suites Pune for six years now. Where did she get her culinary skills from? “My mother. Absolutely everything I know, she has taught me,” she promptly answers, as she goes on to narrate her experience of cooking here. “I am used to everything in my kitchen including the utensils, the atmosphere, the stove, the taste buds of my family members, etc. But here, none of that holds true — it’s a new setup, new kitchen, utensils, etc. Also, I have cooked for a maximum of 50-60 people for family functions. So initially I was nervous about cooking for so many people but the hotel’s chefs made it easy,” she says.
When asked what her specialities are, chef Vaishali says Sukha Mutton and Bharli Vangi. “I have learnt both from my mother and cook them in the traditional way by first drying and then grinding the masalas, and marinating the mutton, and then mixing the two together,” she gives a quick overview.
The dessert section at the festival features Maharashtra’s all-time favourites such as Puran Poli, Ukdiche Modak, Aamras, Basundi and Chirote as well.
The hotel believes in paying attention to detail, so a special counter has been dedicated to traditional chutneys, pickles and thechas. The live counters have Vada Pav, Missal Pav, Thalipeeth and Solapuri Dhapate on offer.
To feast on these regional delicacies from Maharashtra, head to Sen5es right away!
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The festival will continue at Sen5es, Marriott Suites Pune, Mundhwa, Koregaon Park, up to February 24, 7 pm onwards