The recipes are traditional ones passed down from generation to generation and everything is prepared from scratch…
The Bangala is in a region called Chettinad, known for its rich heritage: mansions, temples and, of course, the food. We serve typical Chettinad food, but more homely, because The Bangala was a homestay before it became a small heritage hotel. The recipes are traditional ones passed down from generation to generation and everything, even the basic sauces, is cooked from scratch using whatever ingredients are the best at the market that day. Even the spices are ground on stone in the traditional way. It’s why people love our food.
We run several cooking courses, including a seven-day masterclass for professional chefs and foodies from all over the world, which involves preparing 110 dishes. For regular travellers, we have created something much shorter – around an hour – where we do four dishes. Because of the time constraints, most of the preparation is done beforehand, but we show them the various ingredients and brief them on how to prepare them and so on, and give them a copy of the recipes so they can follow along. After the introduction, we go about cooking the various dishes with the assistance of the guests, and at the end, there’s a tasting session.
We try to plan it so there’s a vegetarian dish and a meat one, a rice dish and a dry dish to make a complete meal and one that people can easily recreate later for their friends and family. It seems to work as many people write to us afterwards with photographs of what they’ve cooked at home after doing our class. Some of them even buy The Bangala Cookbook and learn more dishes, which is very satisfying. I’d say a large part of our correspondence is just answering questions about recipes!
I think one reason why the people who come here from Europe fall in love with our food is that, contrary to the misconception that Chettinad food is spicy, our food is not spicy. It’s full of flavour – and wonderfully simple to cook.