Tag Archives: southindian

Chronicles from Madras

Having grown up going to erstwhile Madras where my grandparents lived, I have developed great fondness for the local food. In fact I thoroughly enjoy the varied flavours of food across Southern India. While I am otherwise a carnivore, vegetarian delicacies in Southern food appeal immensely to my palate, perhaps more than non-vegetarian too.

Madras Diaries, naturally, conjured up images of lip-smacking South Indian fare and opened a floodgate of memories too. This new restaurant which opens tomorrow, Ocotber 11, 2017, is located in Bandra West Mumbai off Waterfield Road.

The colourful and vibrant decor, with the Southern leitmotif conspicuously running through in the design elements, catches your eye immediately as you enter. The seating is cosy and offers sufficient privacy.

Neeti Goel of Nom Nom and Farhan Azmi of Basilico  have endeavoured to revive lost recipes and Chef Murugan and his team execute this with authenticity and precision.

The menu, looked inviting from word go and I was keen to try a lot of the delicacies from the South. The hint of innovation in some dishes on the menu enhances its appeal.

Cheese Chilli Jalapeno Idli in Masala Fondue was what we started with. The bite-sized idlis were delicious and paired well with the spicy fondue.

Jalepano Idlis with Cheesy Dips

The big idli swathed in the fiery podi got my instant vote. The ragi dosa, which came next, bore testimony to their efforts to cook with forgotten grains. The accompanying sambar is easily the best I have had in a long time in Mumbai. The podis- made with lentils and spices, packed a punch and the pachadis, were delectable and enhanced the dining experience. Some pachadis were curd based, others made from vegetables tempered with spices and curry leaves. The freshness shone through and I ate each one with relish.

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The food here struck me as authentic, clean and made with fresh ingredients. The contemporary twist in some cases was exciting and acceptable. The aroma of home-made ghee was evident in each dish. The options in each section- be it idlis, vadas, dosas or utthapams was tremendous.

Among dosas, Pesarattu made with green moong dal and Dhavangere Benne made with rice and urad dal were my other favourites. The coconut chutney was quintessentially home style and bursting with freshness.

If you happen to visit Madras Diaries during lunch, you can enjoy the light vegetarian meal  which showcases five treasured specials from the Southern region along with sambhar, rasam, curd, rice and the option of choosing two accompaniments from Dosai, Malabari Parotta, Appam & Chappathi.

Apart from dosas, idlis and vadas, there are a plethora of other options too. Choose from the crispy, flaky, soft Malabari Parotta, or the Kambu Roti made with pearl millet or the Chilly Parotta with Salsa and Onion Raita to be relished with vegetable kurma and raita. Pillowy soft ‘Appams,’  too are on offer and one can savour these with a hot vegetable stew or ‘ulli theyal,’ a gravy with onions and coconut.

How can you leave a South Indian restaurant without eating payasam? I too did not. I relished the tender coconut payasam as well as the chiku halwa or sapota kesari which was an absolute surprise.

Authentic Filter Coffee

You may enjoy the rasam shots during your meal, as I did, but a filter coffee at the end of your meal is a must.

Madras Diaries ensures you don’t necessarily have to trek to Matunga for authentic South Indian food. The fare on offer here is homely, rustic and mouth-watering.

I stepped out with a little bit of Madras on my palate.

Rating: 4/5

 

 

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Authentic South Indian Breakfast at Tuskers, Sofitel Mumbai BKC

Weekends are somehow synonymous with an unusual breakfast. You don’t want to eat the same ol’ stuff that you do throughout the week. And now, Mumbaikars have a delicious alternative on weekends starting July 4. Sofitel Mumbai BKC offers a huge South Indian spread for breakfast at Tuskers, the award winning Vegetarian Restaurant, from 7-11 am.

Vanakkam, the Tamil for welcome, by the staff at Tuskers, accompanied by a warm smile, really made us feel at home. The tables were traditionally decorated and aesthetic to look at.

The buffet counter was resplendent with vadas, idlis, upmas, a variety of chutneys and of course the live stations from where piping hot dosas and appams were being served.

The variety of the chutneys struck me as unusual. Variations of coconut chutney with roasted coconut, coconut and toor dal chutney with tomato, curry leaves chutney, the list was endless.  Chef E. Munichandrudu, who has recently come in from Novotel Chennai, apparently specializes in chutneys. Not surprising therefore that there were several unusual ones on offer. Home style food is his forte and he prefers to keep things simple. ” I don’t like my dishes to be overpowered with masalas. The guests should be able to enjoy the taste and flavours of all the ingredients in a dish,” he elaborates.

The spinach vadas were interesting. Basically medu vadas with spinach in them, these were crisply fried and the spinach added a unique flavour to them. Appams and stew were something I was looking forward to. While the appams were flawless, i found the stew to have a pronounced taste of thick coconut milk, which masked the flavours of the other components of this preparation. Mildly flavoured stews are what I prefer.

The broken wheat upma was healthy and a welcome inclusion, I thought. The right amount of tanginess in the tomato upma, made it a thorough palate pleaser. Vermicelli upma was light, flavoursome and well-made.

The curry leaves chutney wowed my palate. It paired well with almost all the dishes. The flavours of the curry leaves meshed well with the sour tamarind pulp, making one want to eat more of this delectable chutney.

The dal vada curry was unique and complimented the dosa. I was fascinated by it. Apparently made of leftover vadas in homes, here of course, Chef had used steamed vadas instead of fried ones and the gravy was mouth-watering.

The Kancheepuram Idlis I thought could have some more cashewnuts, pepper et al. A bit too plain and basic, these were. Equally disappointing was the filter coffee. The decoction, was obviously not of the right proportion. The aroma too was missing. I still prefer my Matunga joints for the best filter coffee.

With Dosas, Vadas, Paniyaram, Sevai Coconut Upma, Pachor, Kozhukkatta, Unniyappam, Kariveppila Vada, from Kerala & Tamil Nadu, it is difficult to resist over eating.

Feast on Dosas at Pondichery cafe

Innovative dosas made with beetroot, ragi, oats & carrots  are definitely the highlight of the breakfast as are the sweet & savoury chutneys made from mango, pudina, Venkayam chutney, Inji chutney etc. These are bound to tingle your taste buds and leave you craving for more. The sambhar was absolutely authentic and the best I have had in Mumbai in a long time.

We were off to a great start. Delicious home style South Indian fare in a five star ambience, at an affordable price of Rs 711 plus taxes, is good news. Make the most of it next weekend.

Rating : 3.5/5

South Indian Fare + Global Flavours = Kobri Food Truck

A restaurant on wheels is always a fun prospect to eat from. Of course extremely popular in the West, one does not see too many in India owing to licenses and permission problems, yet, thankfully, a few are mushrooming all over India. Delhi and NCR seem to be leading the way. I was lucky to sample the food from Kobri, a food truck parked at The Heritage Transport Museum, one afternoon, courtesy, Le Meridien Gurgaon.

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The menu for the day was on the blackboard outside the truck and the chefs lead by Rajneesh Kumar, Head Chef, Flavour Labs,  were chopping, mixing, preparing, frying at a frenetic pace. The excitement as building. South Indian fusion food is Kobri’s speciality. After all, Kobri means coconut in Kannada.

This unique food truck is part of a hospitality setup called Flavour Labs and was conceptualised in 2013 during the Stanford Business School’s Ignite program in Bangalore. Launched in October 2014, Kobri is based in Gurgaon and mostly caters to the larger NCR region, Rohan Rajgarhia, one of the partners informed me.

The founding team comprises of entrepreneurial professionals with a passion for incredible food experiences, who have backgrounds in hotels & hospitality, healthcare, corporate strategy, analytics, customer service; and academic/professional affiliations with Stanford, Cambridge, Harvard and IIT.

South Indian food is something most of us enjoy, but the fusion bit was the intriguing part. Spinach and mushroom in a white wine cream sauce topped with cheese and chilly flakes was what I settled for, in a wrap. I had made a good choice. The wrap was crisp and the filling generous. The medley of spinach and mushrooms was flavorsome and the white wine cream sauce, laced with cheese gave it a smooth texture, which led to a burst of flavours in my mouth. It was sumptuous, the veggies crunchy and affordably priced. All the prerequisites to make it work for office goers looking for a quick, filling and healthy lunch. Aaiyyo! Delectable stuff.

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The spiced mutton kababs served with salad greens and an apple and olive salsa were equally unique and interesting. However, I preferred them on idlis rather than in the wrap form.

Other options include Paneer with assorted peppers in a mild chettinad sauce and topped with salad greens, Crispy fish on a bed of beetroot and turnip roulade, served with in-house tartar sauce and fresh greens. I like the twist Chef Rajneesh has given to the dishes. The flavours are contemporary and global, appealing to all taste buds. Yet, if one is craving for a South Indian meal, these, satiate that urge too. The idli subs I thought were cute and yet, filling. With offerings ranging from Rs 140-180, food is an absolute steal.

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Apparently they have another truck called Hoppers that offers healthy comfort food. I can’t wait to try that on my next visit to Delhi and NCR. Alas! we need a Kobri in Mumbai too!