Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Potli food, locally called Potlam-style food, has taken over the menu of many restaurants in town. These not only look great on the plate, but are also packed with deep flavors and textures. Apart from the novelty factor of your food coming in edible potlis (bags), the presentation style has been a hit on Instagram.

We speak to chefs in the city, who say that this is actually an ancient, traditional style of cooking. They speak to CE about how this style is making a comeback and becoming a major trend of 2022. Shankar Krishnamurthy, the director of Fusion Hospitality Pvt. Ltd, says that the old-school style of potlam or potli is an all-time favorite across the globe. There are different versions of it though.

“Anything which is packed – be it in a banana leaf or silver foil – and steamed, retains its taste and nutrition. The food is juicier and tastier. When I started cooking 40 years ago, we used to cook certain French dishes in butter papers. We would wrap fish and vegetables in butter paper and poach, grill or bake them. In the last 10-12 years, chefs had started to use another method – slow cooking, ”says Shankar, who loves to cook mushroom pillow pastries using the potli style. It all depends on the casing, better still if it is edible.

Explaining how to nail the edible casing, he says, make a dough using all-purpose or rice flour. “You can also use leaves such as banana, lotus or mango, which add flavor to the dish. Just keep in mind that the leaf you pick should compliment the dish, ”he says.

Anna Native, a South-Indian fusion restaurant in Sainikpuri, has been a blogger’s delight when it comes to their potlam-style foods. Mohd Ismail, the executive chef, says, “This style is extremely diverse. You call fill the potli with whatever you want – rice, potato mash, mixed vegetables, etc. The potli is made of wheat flour, corn flour, egg and all-purpose flour. There’s a wow factor when the dish is served and the guest cuts open the potli, ”says the chef. The restaurant is known for its Hyderabadi Potlam Biryani.

According to chef Shashank Arora of Forge, people are going crazy about potli recipes because these are ancient. “This was done in the olden days when they would seal the pot and cook the dish. Nowadays, it is trending again as people like the novelty of it. When you make biryani and put it in a potli, it stays hot and tastes great. There is something called the Japanese rice, which is essentially Indonesian-style rice wrapped in an omelette. Sometimes, people also use inedible potlis. In this style, the food is cooked on coal, which makes the flavors sink into the dish better, ”he says.

Foods in potlis are the latest rage across restaurants in Hyderabad. Be it biryani, Chinese food or desserts, the novelty of this cooking and presentation style is what makes a dish all the more Instagrammable. Chefs speak to CE about the trend

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