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Catering to different tastes



The master chef at work.

Charm the palate and you are sure to capture a child's heart. Few know it better than Ambi Swami (M. S. Krishna Iyer) of Thrissur, who has led the team of cooks at the kitchen of the State School Youth Festivals for the past few years.

His culinary skills, festival regulars say, have made youth festivals memorable.

"If the food is good, I give the festival full marks," says Anil Kumar, a student from Avinissery.

"Last year, at the Kozhikode festival, the payasams Ambi Swami served were sheer ambrosia. I don't care whether I win a prize or not, but I can't think of missing his payasams."

"Who can forget the taste of `upma' and `vada' Ambi Swami served at Kozhikode last year? I hope Swamy will rustle up similar stuff this time as well," he says.

Swamy will, for he is considered the best in these parts.

No major event in Thrissur is complete without the involvement of this master chef. His expertise has earned him even a citation from the former Chief Minister, C. Achutha Menon.

Swamy leads a team of 75 at the youth festival kitchen. About 9,000 people will be served food everyday.

The budget for running the kitchen is Rs. 8.5 lakhs, according to A. P. Jose, convener of the food committee.

"We will serve idli-sambar, upma and puttu for breakfast, and rice with sambar, pulissery, aviyal, thoran and pappadam for lunch.

The dishes for dinner will change every day," Swamy says.

The menu has been prepared, keeping in mind the preferences of people from different parts of the State.

"The pulissery is a must for South Keralites. North Keralites prefer sambar to any other dish.

All love payasam," Swami explains.

Payasam is served on all days for lunch. Apart from Palada, Swami's speciality, there will also be wheat and rice payasam (of the Ambalapuzha kind).

By Santhosh K.

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