Eating Like a Proud Puneri: Pune Food Festival at Courtyard Marriott, City Centre

 Watch YouTube Video of Making Lasooni Chutney Pizza here, Exec Sous Chef Demonstrates:

Name: Momos Café, Courtyard Marriott, Pune City Center

Location: Next to Jehangir Hospital, Bund Garden Road, Pune

Date of Visit: 18th July, 2014 (Dinner)


Steaming, supple, warm modaks drenched in ghee, cardamom scented puran poli that melts in the mouth, a nourishing marriage of both health and flavours – thalipeeth; Puneri food is mirror of our rich heritage and an intelligent lifestyle. Authentic Puneri cuisine is synonymous with beauty in simplicity. It is amazing to see how much potential our culinary roots have. We Puneris, boast clever flavours with maximum nourishment. I truly believe that this wealth is worth showing off.


I give credit to Courtyard Marriott for recognizing this potential and showcasing Puneri culture on a platter, and they twisted it to suit the global diner’s needs. This was an interesting attempt at fusion food, which smartly brought together Puneri flavours with International dishes and vice versa. At Rs.300 over the regular buffet cost, this Puneri menu is a breath of fresh air.


Wada-Pav, the famed dish that boasts being the first course served to President Obama by our very own Masterchef Vikas Khanna at the White House was left untouched for good reason. The wada-pav was relatively less spicy than its roadside counterpart but nonetheless as pleasing as always.


Highlights of the Puneri Food Festival menu


Executive Sous Chef at Courtyard Marriott, Chef Merajuddin Ansari and his team aced the fusion concept by beautifully marrying modaks with corn meal, pizza with lasan chutney and even shrikhand with croissants.


 Fried Corn-Meal Modaks – I know that it sounds a little weird, frankly I cringed at the thought of this modak but I was pleasantly surprised with the way it turned out. The sweetness of corn meal was blended with the oh-so-delicious flavour of coconut and the stuffing together made for a very familiar and likeable taste inside the crispy modak.


Lasan Chutney Pizza- this dish just worked on so many levels. Firstly, whether it is Italian food or Maharashtrian, we love the flavour of garlic in our food. The tomato sauce was garlicky and familiar and the yogurt and lasan chutney smeared over the pizza upped the yumminess of it all. Plus, that scent of coriander and green chilli chutney with mozzarella cheese only made it more comforting and lovable.


Crroissant stuffed with Shrikhand – Instead of a classic custard, chocolate or cheese Chef Ansari played cleverly by smearing the croissant with smooth, creamy shrikhand with its distinctive sour note, I’d gladly say bye to my custard after this.


While the thalipeeth patty did work as a patty, even with its chilli and coriander hints, it did not have the quality to earn a name as “thalipeeth”, don’t call it that and it was good. Similarly, puran poli didn’t have that melt in the mouth quality that it should even though the stuffing had a mix of chocolate with the cooked lentils, it did not work, especially when compared with the modaks.


An old friend from catering college, Ankita Velankar, accompanied me, I had asked her to come along because her family owns a Maharashtrian catering business in the city. She comes from a Puneri Brahmin family, and has grown up in a household that not only savours but also aces in making these delicacies.


When it comes to fusion food, it is important to maintain the integrity of the cuisine while using new flavours only to elevate it. Ankita is not only knowledgeable but also proud and protective of Puneri cuisine, and we both thought that the Puneri food festival succeeded in elevating Puneri flavours to a great extent.


I would love to see these modaks or that lasooni pizza on the Courtyard Marriott menu, not just during a festival but on the regular menu as well. These dishes succeed in showcasing Puneri Food and flavours in a familiar and subtle manner.  Foreign visitors and visitors from across India, this selection had something for everyone.


Rating is Specific to The Puneri Food Festival between 11th and 20th July, 2014


Rating out of 5 Forks

Ambience: 3 Forks

Service: Not Applicable due to Invite

Menu: 4 Forks

Food: 3 Forks

Value for Money: 2 Forks

That Thing About this Place: 4 Forks


Rating: 3.5 Forks