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Chef Jose Thachil, Executive Chef, Taj Madikeri Resort & Spa, Coorg

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Handpicked ingredients from local farms help in creating a wholesome dining experience while allowing guests to immerse themselves in the local culture and flavours, says Chef Jose Thachil, executive chef, Taj Madikeri Resort & Spa, Coorg 

Your insights on Vocal About Local
Vocal About Local, is a wonderful concept. Specially in current times, when everyone is so conscious of
what goes into their food with a strong focus on eating healthy and overall wellness. The entire “Farm to
Fork” concept focuses on creating absolutely fresh food that has a distinct flavour to it. Handpicked
ingredients from local farms help in creating a wholesome dining experience while allowing guests to
immerse themselves in the local culture and flavours. Coorg is known for its organic farming and organic
products – aromatic spices like pepper, cardamom, cumin etc. grown here are of world class quality.
Being able to create recipes with these fresh from the farm products adds to the richness of the food we
serve at our resort.

At Taj Madikeri Resort & Spa, Coorg, we extensively focus on wellness and Ayurveda. Ingredients that
are found in this region have an array of health benefits and add the special touch to our recipes. As a
chef, it is always a challenge to create recipes that taste and look great, and at the same time keep the
calories in check! The key secret to wining that battle is fresh ingredients straight from the farm!

Curating menus at Taj Madikeri Resort & Spa, Coorg using local ingredients
The Kodavas are a very proud clan of warriors. They take a lot of pride in their rich cultural heritage, and
this is what makes their cuisine so different. In the olden times, Coorg was inaccessible and
unapproachable by outsiders, hence locals started growing their own ingredients. The traditional
households in Coorg are repositories of many recipes that have been passed down to them over many
generations. These recipes were crafted using all locally manufactured products and ingredients from
their own farms. Be it the use of vinegar (Kachampuli) produced here or big peppers kernels, this is what
sets the traditional Kodagu cuisine apart from the rest of the South Indian Cuisine.

At Taj Madikeri Resort and Spa, we have endeavoured to bring every bit of Coorg and its culture into the
resort. The inspiration behind Nellaki, our fine dining Coorg specialty restaurant, was to create a
memorable fine dining experience for our guests using traditional recipes (with their secret ingredients)
of the region. The cuisine we serve here is enriched with ingredients that are characteristic to the home-
grown culture of Coorg. Be it our chef’s curated Coorg Thali or the signature Pandi curry (Pork Curry),
every recipe is unique and has secret ingredients that give it that distinct flavour. Our signature dessert,
Madhu Soppu Payasam is made from medicinal leaves called Madhu Toppu. This plant grows wild
around Coorg. In the “Kakkada” period of intense monsoon, an extract is created from the leaves of this
plant. This extract gives a unique colour to the payasam while also making your dessert healthy and
therapeutic!

The one local ingredient your kitchen cannot do without
Kachampuli, the denser, darker, more sour, sticky and tart vinegar is an ingredient that I definitely could
not do without – it is the signature flavour in all classic Coorg recipes. It draws its name from the boiling
process the fruit undergoes. Garcinia Gummi Gutta trees are grown extensively by the locals to create
this secret ingredient for its medicinal values and distinctive flavour. This secret ingredient makes both,
vegetarian and the non-vegetarian recipes rich and flavourful. Kachampuli can be used as a marinade or
in cooking, in fact just a drop of this magic potion creates delicious recipes. This vinegar keeps you fit
and helps keep your cholesterol levels in check too, no matter how rich your meal is! Kachampuli, used at any instance, guarantees that a delicious Coorg recipe is right next door!

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