I am partial to Asian food, not that I have eaten it all, also since I am nothing but honest, maybe not the most authentic either. On the whole I do feel that Asian food, especially east Asian, is multi layered. There are so many flavours and ingredients, each one treated differently in each of the dishes they lend themselves to. I love the fresh citrusy bursts as much as the chilli and spice kicks, and the sweet notes in between!
Malaysia is one country that has eluded me despite having family there and receiving endless invitations from them. I’ve heard so much about how much I would enjoy it because it is truly the melting pot of Asia and has so much to offer for the foodie in me (almost an abuse these days!). So when I had an invite to sample the food of Malaysia, prepared by a chef who was flown in especially for the food festival, I was delighted to accept.
The Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre has been hosting some wonderfully curated food over the last few months. Read all about my previous experiences here and here. It is always nice to get to sample food that is less common and wins special brownie point from me for the effort of Chef Yogi and his team for this.
The blogger’s table began with a very elaborate plate of assorted starters. The attention to detail in the selection of dishes was something that I enjoyed. The starters included that classic Malaysian street food, chicken satay – strips of marinated chicken, skewered and grilled and served with a peanut sauce. This was sweeter than I have ever tasted, but not in a bad way.
The Bergedil Ikan, had to be one of my favourites. It is a patty made of potato and fish, well seasoned with shallots and chilli paste.
Kerabu kambing (sliced lamb) was tender and succulent and I loved the flavour of the lemongrass which came through.
There were also two salads for the vegetarians, the Kerabu kacang kudasald which is a combination of chick peas, cucumber, coriander and tomatoes with lime and vinegar dressing and Rojak which was fresh fruit tossed with sauces and peanuts
The main course was quite elaborate and having whetted my palate I couldn’t wait to sample the next course.
Chef Ruhizad who has a lot of experience curating Malaysian food around the world, had taken care to be sensitive to the local palate and toned down the use of extremely strong flavours such as shrimp paste, while keeping in mind the fact that Hyderabadis eat a lot of chilli. Spice powders and pastes were carefully made and hand carried by him from Malaysia for this festival. The rest of the ingredients were locally sourced. He shared some funny anecdotes of his experiences and was very pleasant to interact with. He also mentioned the well documented fact that Malaysian food is a melting pot of traditional Malay, Chinese, Tamil, Indonesian and Thai food & cooking styles. The dishes chosen were to showcase this diversity in their cuisine.
Ikan goreng berempah ~ Deep fried fish marinated with shallot, garlic, fennel and other spices was rather dry, tho I suspect the amount of time it spent on the table before the bloggers were satisfied with their photographs of it was the actual culprit here!
There was also a giant grilled red snapper, marinated in spices which was served to us. The preview was a sit down meal although the festival is presented as part of their buffet.
I liked the simplicity of the Ayam masak merah, a dry chicken dish. The joke around the table was that it was similar to Chicken 65, a dish that Hyderabadis absolutely love!
Kambing bakar percik sos for me was one of the highlights of the evening. A roasted lamb dish that was flavoured with coconut milk and chilli. It was done to perfection and I couldn’t but help be pleasantly surprised that despite my expectation of Malaysian food showcasing sea food well, the lamb dishes here stood out completely.
Sotong sambal, I’m not the biggest fan of squid, but I relished second helpings of this dish. Cooked in a classic malay sauce, it was the right balance of fishy.
For the vegetarians, the Kentang masak lemak chili padi which reminded me of Thai style curries was subtle and multi layered with the chilli paste and coconut milk. Eaten with rice, this was comfort food for sure.
Curry Sayur sayuran, a mixed vegetable curry with kaffir lime & galangal again had familiar flavours, very similar to the red Thai curry but very sublime.
The almost Indian style Kobis goreng kunyit bercili which was sautéed cabbage with garlic, red onion & hold your breath! curry leaves was my least favourite dish of the day. I would give this one a miss, unless I hadn’t had a dose of roughage for the day!
We ended the wonderful meal with a Malaysian dessert platter. There were banana fritters, with a lovely indulgent vanilla sauce. The classic Badak Berendam which to put it (sacriligeously) frankly is a Malay version of modak. Glutinous rice encases a filling of palm sugar and coconut the dumpling in its green food colour drenched avatar was gummy, not a texture I enjoy.There was also a pudding kind of preparation which was mild and flavoured with coconut milk. The best was the coconut milk creme brulee. I loved the fact that there was so much variety and that the sweetness was mild.
Food festivals are a good way to sample a cuisine. Care is taken to showcase a wide variety of dishes so that one gets a birds eye view of it. The next best thing if you cannot travel to sample local eats is to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities.
The food festival is in collaboration with Tourism Malaysia and is part of their regular elaborate dinner buffet. It is on until the 29th of May, the menu changes everyday, so expect to see some new and well known dishes on the spread.
Price: The buffet is priced at 1358 All Inclusive
Hours: 7.30 pm to midnight.
Location: Hyderabad Marriott Hotel & Convention Centre & Courtyard by Marriott Hyderabad, Opposite Hussain Sagar Lake, Hyderabad – 500080
Credit Card Accepted: Yes
Valet Parking: Available
Telephone: 91 4027522999