During supper on my first evening at the J W Marriott, Pune, I mentioned to one of the wait staff that I could not eat any food that contained wheat. They apologized for not having a large selection of wheat-free items available for supper that evening. It really didn’t seem to be a problem to me – there was actually plenty of choice on their menu. However, what transpired over the next 5 days was nothing short of amazing!
Breakfast at the JW Marriott in Pune, India turned out to be a surprise every morning. Although the buffet included a vast array of interesting Western and Indian-style foods, to my huge surprise, the Head Chef approached my table as I sat down to a gorgeous bowl of bircher muesli and fruit that first morning, and asked if I would like some gluten free toast – they had made a loaf especially for me, following staff feed back from the previous evening. He then very graciously offered to make me something specifically wheat-free for the remainder of my stay. I said that was extremely kind, and by the look of the buffet that morning, I would likely very easily find enough to eat. However, this was my first experience of South Indian hospitality, and it turned out I was in for quite the treat!
The next morning, I had been enjoying eating fruit and was savoring this wonderful rice and potato-based loaf, when I was then given a rice roti, served with a coconut milk stew. I was told it was ‘very mild and settling for the stomach’. Indeed it was. Much more than I would normally eat for breakfast, but then I remembered, ‘Breakfast Like A King, Lunch Like A Prince and Dinner Like A Pauper’. Would I manage the rest of the day’s eating with this in mind? Well, I decided to just roll with it and see where it took me.
On the third morning, I was bought a Masala Rava Dosa, served once again with a Sambar and coconut chutney. They very considerately served my dosa Western-style. Meaning, it was made a little smaller and gently folded so I could eat it with a knife and fork.
As I was browsing the buffet the next day, the Sous Chef approached me and asked if I had ever eaten Aappam. I said I had not – so he told me to go sit down and he would bring me something special.
Aappam – a fermented rice and urad dal batter, cooked in an Aappachatti – is a very light, yet filling pancake. It is soft in the middle, and crispy on the edges. On this occasion, Chef had cooked it with a fried egg, and again it was served with Sambal and coconut chutney. He added mushrooms and tomato on the side this time. Very filling and extremely delicious.
Well, I certainly did Breakfast Like a King for all 5 days in Pune. Unfortunately for my waistline, I also proceeded to eat lunch and dinner in the same manner. South Indian hospitality is something to experience. It’s extremely difficult to say ‘No’, when you are offered such incredible food in such a gracious way. Well, that’s my excuse anyway and I’m sticking with it.