Affable and soft spoken, Executive Chef Rajesh at Xandari’s Cardamom County conducts a demonstration of how Fish Molee is cooked. Fish Molee is a curry that is, in the popular imagination, synonymous with the non- vegetarian cuisine of Kerala. Fried fish, mostly Seer, cooked in coconut milk, Fish Molee is essentially a mild stew.
A group of voluble American guests, watch as Rajesh’s hands move deftly over the table, dipping into the array of ingredients before him, spatula turning over frying onions, curry leaves, garlic and ginger. Gently handling slivers of pink Seer fish. The women in the audience ask questions, some taking notes. They are interested in the ingredients, the sources of food. Some step up to the table to watch.
Rajesh speaks softly, pacing his words with his actions, at times rapid, at times ponderous –“Wash the fish fillets thoroughly and then marinate with turmeric powder, powdered chillies and salt. And then, heat oil and fry the fish fillets until they turn light golden brown in colour. Now, add sliced green chilies and continue frying for a while before adding water, lemon juice, pepper powder and salt. Boil on a low flame adding coconut milk. Simmer until the gravy thickens. Add the fried fish fillets. Cook the mixture for a while on a gentle flame…… and…. ah! ladies……. here, you have Fish Molee.”
Rajesh was born in Chennai, grew up and was educated in the city. He began working with a group of hotels there. “My turning point was working with Taj Flight Kitchen, that’s where I learnt my job working with Chef Satish Arora to start with.” Rajesh recollects, “Later, I worked in Vancouver, in a leading Indian restaurant named Salam Bombay. I have been with Cardamom County for six months now and I love what I do here.”
Orders for food arrive. Rajesh assumes his station at a counter, and like a conductor orchestrating a symphony, he directs his team. Exotic spices, meats and succulent vegetables are turned into delicious meals. The kitchen functions like clockwork. Wafting trails of fragrances titillate as the team of chefs conjure their culinary magic amid the murmur of muted conversations, the sounds of knives at work, of cutlery and plates being moved. Guests at the All Spice Restaurant will dine sumptuously tonight.