IT IS not always about creating new flavours, but paying tribute to what has been perfected over the centuries, says celebrity chef Sapna Anand.
Mostly known for her innovative take on traditional Indian cuisine, Sapna hopes to inspire diners to explore authentic Kerala and Goan dishes by introducing several dishes to the menu at Goa by Hubba.
During a recent trip to her home states of Goa and Kerala in India, Sapna took the chance to hunt up recipes that were unique to the area.
“These are recipes passed down over the generations and they have barely changed.
“Bringing these dishes to a wider audience is my way of paying homage to the people and their recipes,” said the celebrity chef who is Malayalee but grew up in Goa.
The dishes that she has brought back from Kerala are Beef Pepper Fry, Vegetable Ishtew, Fish Mango Curry and Malabar Style Mutton Curry.
Most of these dishes would pair well with appam, a crispy yet fluffy rice pancake also known as hoppers which is available at the restaurant.
The Goan Prawn Curry has raw mango as its distinct feature.
The Beef Pepper Fry is a classic Keralan dish and best enjoyed with fresh toddy or a cold glass of beer.
Tender pieces of beef stewed in spices, shallots, plus plenty of ground black pepper and in true Kerala-style, desiccated coconut is added to the dish.
It was almost reminiscent of rendang, but more aromatic with a hint of sweetness from the coconut with the pepper adding more heat.
The Malabar Style Mutton Curry is one of the highlights as it was creamy and aromatic.
The dish is cooked with the bone marrow, allowing the flavours to slowly blend into the stock, which is used as a base for the curry.
“This is a style of cooking specific to the Muslim community in Kerala.
“It is cooked with coconut cream and its spiciness is mild compared to curries found in Tamil Nadu,” Sapna said.
To best complement this dish, opt for the appam or the more filling fluffy cranberry rice.
Vegetable Ishtew or vegetable stew is one that is a must-try with the appam.
“Vegetable stew and appam are like roti canai and dhal. They cannot be separated,” Sapna said.
The simplicity of this dish and the balance between spices and the natural flavour of vegetables are what makes it irresistible.
The Goan Prawn Curry is cooked with a generous amount of coconut cream. It had very few spices and was seasoned with coriander seeds.
Kashmiri chilli provided a hint of sweetness and colour, while tamarind paste gave it sourness.
Two other dishes, which were firm favourites with diners, have also been reintroduced to the new menu.
Meat lovers can look forward to Mutton Flossed Mantou (steamed mantou bun stuffed with slow-cooked spiced mutton, fried shallots and coriander) and Kashmiri Lamb Chop (with lamb marinated overnight, then grilled with a blend of homemade spices) served with mint chutney.
For dessert, highly recommended is the sweet appam with homemade candied peanut and caramel ice cream, salted caramel and drizzled with coconut milk and dessert brandy.
This was a delightful combination of flavours and textures and definitely worth going back for.
There is also a rose-flavoured option, with rose ice cream and a dash of Malibu rum.
GOA BY HUBBA, The Ascott Kuala Lumpur, 9, Jalan Pinang, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 012-210 3055) Business hours: 6pm to 1am, daily.
This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.