Café Marco at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu is famous for its exciting buffet spread. And to thrill diners even more, it embarks on a Culinary Journey that features cuisines of different countries.
In celebration of Diwali or the Festival of Lights, Café Marco goes Indian and created a feast of exotic dishes and desserts. For 3 years now, Culinary Consultant Ms. Judeline Murjani with the award-winning chefs of Marco Polo, have been whippping up selections as authentic as they can be using Indian ingredients and spices.
India is a vast South Asian country with diverse terrain. The second most populous country (China is first), its cuisine varies from its different regions dictated by culture, geographical location and seasonality. The 11 basic spices are familiar to many of us: cardamom, clove, curry, cassia bark (cinnamon), nutmeg & mace, cumin, coriander, mustard seed, turmeric and the very pricy saffron. The use of spices beyond these can be very confusing for those unfamiliar with the intricacies of the cuisine.
Café Marco was very festive with the staff dressed in Indian clothes. And the buffet lay out competed with its colors and flavors. A section was devoted to Indian savory dishes and desserts. Unfamiliar with the Indian names, I made my choices based on how the dishes appealed to my senses, this after I enjoyed the Japanese Sushi and Sashimi to set the exciting mood of my palates. There was an array of curry dishes – green, red and yellow. A whole roasted headless goat was waiting to be carved. I chose to dine on the familiar tandoori, variety of meats and bread roasted in a tandoor or cylindrical clay oven. The choices included chicken, lamb, fish marinated in the classic tandoori mix that include yogurt, lime juice, Garam Masala, garlic, ginger powder, clove, ground red chili and a few optional spices. They are best eaten with Naan or Indian bread baked in the tandoor. Lamb and Chicken Kofta was not too complicated – meatball mixed with spices. A whole Chicken Tandoori was stuffed with Biryani, a mixed rice dish with Indian spices, meat with nuts and dried fruits. The dishes I enjoyed were best paired with chutney and raita.
The methai or desserts were quite different. I had Jalebi, a deep-fried batter in pretzel form soaked in syrup, Burfi or dense milk based confectionary, Gulab Jamun or milk solid kneaded with flour, shaped into balls and deep-fried and soaked in light syrup flavored with green cardamom and rose water. One just has to taste them to erase the wonder or intimidation.