Benjarong takes the taste level a notch higher with 'Vietnamese Food Festival in Bangalore'

What’s really interesting about Vietnamese Food is that, it features a combination of all the five fundamental tastes (sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, savory) in an overall meal. Is rich both visually as well as to your taste senses and is considered one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. And, if you are looking for a place where you can dig in for some genuine Vietnamese Food in Bangalore then Benjarong is the place you would want to be.

Benjarong is currently celebrating ‘The Vietnamese Food Festival’ that lasts till 16th August 2015, serving an ala-carte menu crafted specially for the festival.

What’s so great about ‘The Vietnamese Food Festival’ at Benjarong?

Everything, though Vietnamese Food looks simple, it looks has the power to entice your taste buds.

Chef Ly Kim Ngan and Chef Nguyen Thi Nho have flown down all the way from Vietnam to host the Vietnamese food festival at Benjarong this year.

Chef Ram Kumar along with his team travelled all the way to Vietnam to experience the food, understand the local culture and get a sense of how the food is served, what goes well with what, popular drinks, popular ingredients and to decide dishes that had to be on the menu.

The team also brought back a lot of key ingredients to be used for the food festival to give more authentic and real taste to the dishes viz. the rice papers, annatto seeds, lotus seeds, Special Vietnamese spices like the curry powders, fire spice powder, sesame rice crackers, and the bamboo platters on which the food is served. 

Before I take you to other details here are some interesting things about the Vietnamese cuisine that I am sure you would love to know.

Known for its balance of five elements, many Vietnamese dishes include five fundamental taste senses: spicy (metal), sour (wood), bitter (fire), salty (water) and sweet (Earth).

Vietnamese dishes also include five types of nutrients: powder, water or liquid, mineral elements, protein and fat. Vietnamese cooks try to have five colors: white (metal), green (wood), yellow (Earth), red (fire) and black (water) in their dishes.

While speaking to the chef we discovered some interesting facts about the food, like Vietnamese don’t prefer using any artificial food coloring in the dishes and hence use annatto seeds (like we use cumin or mustard seeds in hot oil) for bringing color; that while contrasting texture and flavors are important, the principal primarily concerns the "heating" and "cooling" properties of ingredients, that’s why the combination of seafood’s considered  "cold" is suitable to use with ginger  or mint "warm"; that 'pho' is the most consumed food and is like a complete meal for them.

What you should definitely try at ‘The Vietnamese Food Festival’, Benjarong:

Chicken “Pho” Noodle Soup (Pho Ga), as I have mentioned above, ‘Pho’ is like a main course meal when served in large portion, a perfect blend of minimal ingredients noodles, chicken and fresh herbs cooked in pork stock. Amazing taste.

Banana Blossoms Salad with Chicken (Goi Ga Bap Chuoi) The moment you take a portion inside your mouth, what you will experience is a burst of flavors inside, the fresh herbs (mint, Thai basil, coriander leaves), banana blossoms, long red chillies, skinless chicken breast fillets come together at play leaving you with a bit spicy, watery and minty flavors.

Banana blossom, also called the banana heart. It is an edible flower used in Southeast Asian and Indian cooking, where they consider it a vegetable.

The Appetizer platter: The beautiful appetizer platter which was crafted specially for us had shrimps, spring rolls and fish patties. The shrimps tasted really amazing, filled with the juices from the spices and herbs it was cooked with. I have had used semolina and bread crumbs in patties but using puffed rice on fish patties was something different and it tasted crispy and yummy. Below are the names of dishes we had in this platter

1. Charcoal Grilled Shrimp Mousse on Sugar Cane wrapped with Fresh Rice Vermicelli and Vietnamese Herbs (Chao Tom Cuon Banh Trang voi Bun Tuoi va Rau Song)

2. Crispy Rice coated Fish Patties served with spicy Hanoi Chilli Dip (Cha Ca Chien Com va Tuong Ot Ha Noi)

3. Vietnamese Fresh Shrimp Spring Rolls dipped in Fermented Bean Sauce and Mixed pickles (Goi Cuon Tom voi Tuong Ngot va Do Chua)

4. Deep-fried vegetable Spring Rolls (Cha Gio Chay) 

Stir-fried Glass Noodle with Crab Meat: Vietnamese cuisine and the dishes served kept me excited all through, and now this masterpiece which truly had a nice assortment of flavours, nothing was overpowering the favour of any other component and I guess that’s the beauty of Vietnamese cooking.

Caramelised Fish in Claypot (Ca Kho To) Basa is a fresh water fish, farmed mainly in the Mekong River system of Vietnam and is one the world's most successful aquaculture species, popular primarily for its no bone build making it suitable for multitude of recipes and cooking styles. This Vietnamese dish was the best one of all that I had till now, Basa cooked in sweet caramel was truly heavenly.

Whole Mud Crab cooked in Curry sauce with Lady’s Finger, Brinjals and Sweet Potatoes (Cary Cua Dau Bap Ca Tim va Khoai Lang), served along with Chicken Fried rice and Lotus Seeds, wrapped in Lotus Leaf

I would have never thought of this, someone cooking crab meat with vegetables of these sort, but believe me they tasted perfectly great, the ladyfinger and brinjal complementing the crab meat along with chicken fried rice steamed in lotus leaf.

Vietnamese Desserts: Mung Bean Cake (Banh Dau Xanh) with ice cream and fresh chopped fruits.  Crystal steamed Banana Cake served cream coconut along with ice cream and fresh fruits (Banh Chuoi Hap Nuoc Cot Dua) and Sticky Rice, corn, Red bean Pudding with Rich coconut Cream sauce and Tapioca Sticks. These desserts were also one of their kind; a little less sweet yet filling at heart.

My Favorites: Chicken Pho, Crispy Rice coated Fish Patties served with spicy Hanoi Chilli Dip, Caramelised Fish in Claypot, Whole Mud Crab cooked in Curry sauce with Lady’s Finger, Brinjals and Sweet Potatoes (Cary Cua Dau Bap Ca Tim va Khoai Lang), Mung Bean Cake (Banh Dau Xanh) with ice cream and fresh chopped fruits.

What's the first Vietnamese food that pops in your head? Pho? Banh mi? Spring rolls? All of these are quintessential dishes and stay on top of the list when someone talks about Vietnamese cuisine. Share yours!

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