The duck curry of Kuttanad lures connoisseurs of food from around the world to Kerala. Its combination with 'kallappam' is considered one of the tastiest meals.
It is well-known fact that chicken can be prepared by anyone, but cooking duck is an art and a labour of love. Unless the right ingredients go into the dish and total attention is given to the cooking process, duck will not taste good.
The chefs at Colony Clubhouse & Grill restaurant at Grand Hyatt hotel in Kochi took up the challenge of preparing the perfect duck dish and came out with a lip-smacking fare.
The smoked duck offered by Colony Clubhouse is now a favourite among the celebrities. The sliced duck meat dish is served along with a unique combination; sweet potato prepared in the stock of duck meat. The duck meat is extremely soft and the masalas blend with it perfectly.
Method of preparation
According to Prakash, the chef, smoked duck reaches the table after a long and elaborate effort. Though the duck is easily found locally, the preparation at Grand Hyatt is totally European.
The first step is to immerse the cleaned whole duck in brine solution for six hours. While making the brine, several other ingredients also go into it, including brown sugar, sweet fennel, fenugreek, coriander, garlic, orange, rosemary and leaves of 'vazhana' (Laurus cassia). This process is meant to make the duck meat soft and for the salt and masalas to be absorbed uniformly. Afterwards, the duck is taken out of the brine and wiped.
The next step is to apply special masalas for marinating the meat and smoking it. A colonial-era charcoal grill which has coconut shell as fuel is used for the purpose.
Meat gets a better taste if it is smoked in the charcoal grill for a longer time, said the chef. Ideally, duck is smoked for five hours. After taking it out of the grill, the meat is kept for 30 minutes before being de-boned.
This long preparation time gives the smoked duck served at Grand Hyatt its unique taste.
A special kitchen
An open kitchen welcomes guests at Colony Clubhouse & Grill Restaurant. The chef is ready to offer tips and allow patrons to try a hand at cooking.
Another attraction of the kitchen is potted cultivation of leafy vegetables and microgreens. It is from the mini garden in the kitchen that the fresh leaves and microgreens that go into the salads are sourced.
Colony Clubhouse also takes care of the pulses, vegetables and other items, which are collected directly from organic farmers. Strict quality standards are maintained for the fish too, which is supplied by the fishermen directly.
A varied fare
Produce of organic farmers from around the country are also displayed at the restaurant. Patrons can not only taste unique dishes but also learn more about the ingredients, method of preparation and even the history of the food they relish.
Along with smoked duck, tasting smoked tofu and sprouted salad is a good option. It is made out of the spongy sprout inside the coconut. This sprout was once commonly available in Kerala but not these days. Adding more taste to the salad, tender coconut water is used as dressing.
Microgreens for the salad are taken from the kitchen garden and Munnar tea is used.
The Italian dish of risotto is made with traditional Indian paddy varieties at Colony Clubhouse. Black rice, a unique paddy with medicinal value, sprouted paddy and mushroom go into the preparation.
The paddy for sprouting is sourced from Mysuru. A totally vegetarian dish, risotto is healthy and protein-rich.
Colony Clubhouse lures diners not only with its special menu but also the setting. Located at the roof top of Grand Hyatt Hotel, the restaurant offers stunning views of the Kochi backwaters both during daytime and in the evening.
The menu includes specialities from the traditional cuisine of Kashmir in the north to Kanyakumari in the south and Arunachal in the east to Gujarat in the west of the country. But the smart chefs have also tweaked many of these age-old dishes to give them a new taste as well as style.