Mango madness at Park Hyatt Chennai

The Indian summer - the season most people dread. But then again, if we had no summer, we probably wouldn't have mangoes. Golden, juicy orbs of sweetness and lusciousness piled high in market stalls, on push carts and even on the pavements where itinerant hawkers set up temporary stands.

The mango is one of those fruits that can be eaten raw, half ripe or fully ripe. Heck, even the flowers can be eaten!

Desserts with mangoes are passe. So I discovered at Park Hyatt Chennai where I was invited to the Mango Tasting Pleasures menu - a whole meal, soup to dessert, where mango would play the starring role. Five kinds mangoes, to be precise and all of them varieties that are available in the local markets.

Food critic Ameeta Agnihotri, PHC's PR Manager Gargi Guha, PR Executive Parijat Gupta and I sat in The Dining Room that overlooks the Terrace Deck. It was indeed a beautiful setting for the meal that was to follow and to listen to mango stories that were being swapped.

Five mango based drinks are on the menu, 2 of them non alcoholic - Alphonso Fizz with lemon juice and ginger ale and Mango Tango, a blend of Banganapalli juice, orange juice and strawberry bits. The Fizz was rather tart and I preferred the Mango Tango.

The chefs at Park Hyatt Chennai have crafted an innovative menu. There are elements of molecular gastronomy, but most of it would comprise of unconventional pairing of ingredients, we were told.

For a minute, I was taken aback when this appetiser was placed in front of me. The first time I ate a runny yolk was when I was 5 years old and I hated it. I had to check out the menu again and yes, it did say mango yolk. On a layer of avocado mousse was a tartare of melon and grapefruit, resting on it were 2 shimmering yolks and a pat of creme fraiche. Blobs of lemon curd completed the plating. Slicing through the yolk, the runny centre flowed out. It was a riot of flavours and textures - the tartness of the lemon curd, sweetness of the melon, tanginess of the creme fraiche, the smooth mousse and that mango yolk itself. The surface had the feel and taste of mango jelly and the inside was a thick juice made from the malgova variety of mango.

The soup was a cold mango gazpacho with mud crab, lychee jalapeno relish and roasted almonds. The lychee slices looked like raw seafood and the gazpacho had been made with senthuram mango. It was a beautiful combination of mango and crab, both restrained in flavour and the relish adding a kick just when it was getting monotonous. The almonds added a much needed crunch to the whole.

Luscious Imam Pasand was made into a sorbet. A savoury buttermilk pannacotta formed the base, on it an asparagus salad with diced mango, toasted pine nuts and served with wafer thin pumpernickel toast. The pairing of the creamy, just set pannacotta and sorbet was exquisite.

Our salad comprised of slices of Alphonso mango, house cured duck, fennel and sugar snap peas, pistachio, pomegranate. Rocket leaves added a peppery note and the slight acidity of the raspberry jelly tied up all the flavours together. Chef Megha explained the curing process to us, it sounded simple enough but the flavours were complex.

Dessert was the personification of simplicity - sticky rice with Banganapalli mango slices and coconut creme. Toasted sesame seeds lifted the dish to sublimity, the only jarring note was the tartness of the mango slices though the rice was sweetened perfectly.

Would a whole meal made of mango be an overdose? Not at all, neither in flavour nor in terms of colour. Every one of the dishes was light, each variety of mango had been chosen with much thought so it did not overpower any of the other flavours in that particular dish. To that end, each of the dishes was distinctly different from each other. A truly innovative experience.

Mango Tasting Pleasures will be available till Sunday Brunch of June 7th at the Park Hyatt  dining outlets. A la carte prices start from 435/++

For more details, do call +91 4471771234 / +91 8939871109.                  


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