‘Heritage of Travancore’ at Vivanta by Taj, Trivandrum

It’s the season of food festivals and this time we were at the Vivanta by Taj, Trivandrum for the start of the ‘Heritage of Travancore’ fest at their multi-cuisine fine dining restaurant, the Fifth Element.

It’s always a pleasure to be at the Vivanta by Taj, Trivandrum. The ambience, the arrangements, the service and the hospitality makes the occasion a memorable one. As usual, James Kashyap, F&B Manager welcomed us and briefed us about the ten-day promotion.

Jose Thomas, Executive Chef gave us an idea about the cyclic menu that changes daily, with four non- veg dishes and almost double that number of vegetarian fare in the main course, complimented with some homemade pickles and chammanthies (chutneys). The fest is focussing on the culinary delights from the central Travancore area (between Trivandrum and Kottayam).

We had ulli-vada (onion pakoda), mutton cutlets and koonthal ularthiyathu (squid roast) for starters. The cutlets were just like the ones you have at home, yummy. I also tried out the tangy prawn pickles and the hot & spicy beef pickle. All these went off well with some red wine.

The opening night menu had Mutton Peralan, Aripidi Kozhi curry, Meen Puliyala pollichethu and Kappa Beef Biryani in the non- vegetarian section while Cheru payar vazhkaya kootu curry, Pavakya theeyal, Vazhapoo thoran and carrot valliapayar mezhukuperatti were the highlights of the vegetarian section. Some of the other dishes were veg kurma, mor kachiyatu, Kadala curry, Uralakezhengu roast and sweet potato. Even though there was a choice of red and white rice, I opted for some fresh Kallappams from the live station. Wow, they were too good with the mutton/chicken. Btw, the Meen Puliyala pollichethu, fish marinated with Tamarind leaf paste and wrapped in plantain leaf and baked, is an exotic delicacy.

For someone like me whose roots are from the central Travancore area, I was familiar with most of the dishes as they are those which are usually made at home. But for someone outside or for those visiting Kerala, the ten-day promotion is a very good opportunity to explore the culinary bests of Travancore region and also to revisit some traditional classics that have made this cuisine famous. This is a good attempt by the Chefs to showcase some of the famous delicacies from the Travancore cuisine along with some of the lesser known dishes.

For desserts, there’s a wide selection from the very traditional stuff like payasams (kheer) to very local delights like karipetti halwa, vatteppam, unniappams and achappams with a modern twist. I enjoyed the extra sweet and rich payar payasam.

Overall, a great evening. I would like to mention the team at the Fifth Element led by Biju Sreedharan and Vairavan Mani who played the perfect hosts. The dinner-only buffet ‘Heritage of Travancore’ promotion concludes on November 25.

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Anil Philip

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