The exquisite cuisine of India with all its regional flavours and splendour came alive at Sudima Airport Auckland, affording a unique experience to a cross-section of communities recently.
The nine-day ‘Indian Food Festival,’ held from October 4 to 12, was put together by Executive Chef and Food & Beverage Manager Rakesh Chandra and his team with the nightly theme ranging from the cuisine of Punjab in the North to that of Kerala in the South. Everything in between was also a delight to the dining public.
What began as an experiment last year has grown to be an iconic festival at the Hotel, setting an appropriate prelude to Diwali, the biggest religious and social observance of the Hindus, with people of other ethnic groups and beliefs participating with enthusiasm and joy.
As Sudima Group Chief Executive Sudesh Jhunjhnuwala, Director Laxmi Jhunjhnuwala, and Sudima Auckland Airport Manager Riza Suryo observed, “Indian food is perhaps the most extensive in the world, appealing to every palate. Each State and regions within each State has its own style, taste and aroma. We have tried to bring a sample of most of the regions during the Festival because celebrations acquire added value with food.”
Apart from F&B personnel, staff from other departments of the Hotel including Projects Executive Kanika Jhunjhnuwala were actively involved in various aspects of the Festival.
“They were happy to wear saree and blouse or salwar khameez to greet customers, serve them beverages and participate in the entertainment programme,” Mrs Jhunjhnuwala said.
Mr Chandra said that the ‘Indian Food Festival’ this year took months of planning, sampling and discussion, before the menu for each of the days of the event could be finalised.
“Apart from food, each night had its own theme, embellished by the settings, ambiance and entertainment. We were keen to bring the best there is in Indian gourmet to New Zealanders and overseas visitor,” he said.
The Hotel hosted a special evening for invited guests on October 2, at which an extensive buffet of delicacies was served. Understandably, many of the guests returned for the opening night of the Festival (October 4) wanting more of the best that India offers. It was a festive atmosphere at which DJ Dan (of Dan’s Mobile Disco) excelled himself as the music host, singing popular songs from Hindi films.
With an interlude of colourful dances presented by the Hotel staff and the Bhangra Group, the guests took to the floor, dancing to the recorded music. It was no surprise that each of the nights that followed intensified the festive mood.
The fact that Indian food and festivals attract a cross-section of the population was testified at Sudima Auckland Airport. A number of people of European, Maori and Pacific Island origin were seen at the dance floor, gyrating to the music culled from Hindi films.
Among them were youngsters Corraine Rawlinson and Sheree Ohara. Donned in Indian attire, complete with Bindi on their foreheads, they inspired many others to join them.
Among the attractions at this Hotel is ‘Visaya Restaurant and Bar,’ which offers an innovative menu to diners who like leisurely lunch or dinner and travellers and others who have little time to spare.
The menu incorporates the freshest seasonal foods into dishes to tempt every taste bud – from Pacific Rim dishes to vegetarian options, and International cuisines.
The day begins early (at 5 am) at Visaya with an extensive breakfast buffet that is often mentioned as a healthy start for people. As the breakfast session concludes, chefs and others busy themselves to layout their unique lunch plan and later dinner. Visitors to Sudima Auckland Airport can expect good food for 18 hours daily.
Mr Chandra said, “This Festival helps us to demonstrate what Sudima can offer. Customer demand has encouraged our chefs to create authentic dishes that are popular in various regions of India. These have also earned the preference of New Zealanders. We endeavour to offer the best value, the best of Indian food prepared with a unique flavour and taste. We hope that this year’s Indian Food Festival will evince the interest of all ethnic groups.”
Indian vegetarian items provide a variety of high-protein and high-fibre. The cooking method for each vegetable varies between dishes and regions, with the blend of spices making all the difference. At Sudima, guests appreciate Indian vegetarian food as they enjoy a wide choice, he added.
The Hind Group
Sudima Hotels is a part of the Hind Group, renowned for its choice investment in properties and hotel ownership on either side of the Tasman.
The Group operates four hotels under the Sudima brand (Sudima Auckland Airport, Sudima Lake Rotorua, Sudima Christchurch Airport and Sudima Hamilton, a managed property) in New Zealand and Sudima Suites (a self-contained apartment-style property) in Brisbane, Australia.
Last year, Sudima Lake Rotorua Hotel launched a Scholarship Programme to promote the interests of young Maori in conjunction with the Ngati Whakaue Education Endowment Trust Board (Indian Newslink, October 1, 2013).
The Scholarships are open to descendants of an original Owner in the Pukeroa Oruawhata Block; or to descendants of one or more of the six Koromatua of Ngati Whakaue. Preference may be given to residents of the Rotorua/Maketu District who have attended at least four academic years of study in a specified secondary school in the area.
Sudima scores a First
Sudima Auckland Airport became the first hotel in New Zealand in June this year to gain the ‘Carbon Zero Certification,’ according to Sudima Group Director of Operations Les Morgan.
“As well as setting the bar very high for its sustainable building design since its opening in 2011, the Hotel has continued to develop its environmental practises, with a commitment to managing and reducing its emissions. It is a tremendous achievement by Kanika Jhunjhnuwala, our Projects Executive, and now forms an important part of our Sudima story,” he said.
Dr Ann Smith, Chief Executive of Enviro-Mark Solutions Limited (a fully-owned Government enterprise), which delivers the Certification Programmes and services said, “It is great to see a company like Sudima taking action to reduce their impacts.
The Team at Sudima Airport Auckland (from left) Laxmi Jhunjhnuwala, Rajas Patil, Sudesh Jhunjhnuwala, Riza Suryo, Kanika Jhunjhnuwala, Meagan Ruff, Pauline Hame and Rakesh Chandra
Corraine Rawlinson and Sheree Ohara with Sudima staff
Diners at the Food Festival
Guests revel at the Hotel
The expansive Indian Menu: A Sample
South India: Tomato Rasam, Chicken Nilgiri Korma, Malabari Fish Curry, Lamb Pepper Fry, Vegetable Chettinad, Sambar, Chutney, Lemon Rice, Aviyal, Idli, Vada, Masala Uttappam, Dosa, Rava Kesari, Paruppu Payasam, Jalebi
Punjab and Hyderabad: Murg Tikka Lababdar, Hari Mirch Ka Maas, Rajasthani Mustard Jhinga, Mithi Dal, Gatte Ki Sabzi, Kesari Pulao, Urad Dal Kachori, Aloo Ki Sabzi, Naan, Carrot Kheer, Badam Kulfi
Kashmiri and Maharashtra: Kesari Murgh, Kheema Matar, Malwani Fish Curry, Wozij Chaman, Paalak Nadir (Lotus Stem), Misal Pao, Naan, Vegetable Pulao, Phirni and Gulab Jamun
Bengal and Goa: Macher Jhol, Kosha Mangsho, Aloo Posto, Alambe Ambat, Mushroom & Coconut Curry, Sabzi Caldin, Naan, Ghee Bhat, Angoori Rasbhari and Shahi Tukra
Rajasthan: Mustard Jhinga, Sabzi Caldin, Gatte Ki Sabzi, Kesari Pulao, Puri, Naan, Carrot Kheer, Badam Kulfi