NINJA CHEFS

At 30, they are a daunting lot. Food impresarios, mega foodsmiths, gourmet trailblazers…This week JW Marriott Juhu flew down a clutch of the prized executive chefs from its hotel kitty for a conference, crazy cook-off and a culinary extravanaganza – where you could simply laze and graze at leisure, forking in the gourmet gospels that made the sprawling Lotus Cafe stand redolent with a multitude of lipsmacking flavours.

My haute picks: the tender salmon, baked to perfection. Light, soft, juicy in all its natural flavours, the gleaming fish was tenderised with a lemon-salt-pepper rub down, then covered with sea salt and baked for less than twenty minutes. And served up with a generous sprinkle of toasted garlic pods swishing their bellies in mildly warmed olive oil. Perfecto! Executive Chef Satej Saigaonkar of the mint new Renaissance Hotel, Lucknow, hit bullseye with this preparation

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Next, came the sizzling kheema from the hot tawa, by Executive Chef Vishal Handa, of JW Marriott Chandigarh. Hissing mince, massaged liberally with the right proportion of garam masala and khada gems from the dry condiments boutique, slathered with melting globules of yellow butter, slivered green chillies and a dash of lime. With hot pao. What a kaleji-netter, this dish. Saucily delectable.

And finally the treasure trove from the Hyderabad team powered by Executive Chef Girish Krishnan. The kathal biryani was a sheer eyeopener in every sense. It’s tough cooking jackfruit, achieving the perfect level of succulence in the “vegetarian chicken” is a coup. So the kathal was marinaded in a mixture of hung curd (and some secret spices) for 12 hours and then layered with the rice before being sealed a la dum pukht style. I particularly relished the mini parantha with the delicious nalli nihari. Actually the flavoursome matrix here was matched by the grilled seafood platter by Executive Chef Vishal Atreya of JW Sahar. A smoky collusion of bbq prawns, deep fried squids and surmai fillets.

Pity, they didn’t have recliners to curl up in contentedly post lunch.