Serves Kerala cuisine
Atmospherics: Owned by three partners, one of whom hails from Kerala, this restaurant serves amazingly authentic food in the afternoons and goes completely off-track in the evenings! There are a couple of reasons for this dichotomy. The lady who is the consultant-chef and is from the Christian community of Kerala, visits The Toddy Shop every afternoon between 12 noon and 4 pm, so if you want authentic flavours, that is the time to go. Also, the restaurant offers free home delivery all over Delhi, so quite often, the eatery may be partially empty but the kitchen is working to full capacity. That is what happened to me on my first visit: food that could not even be identified as Kerala’s cuisine. I have learnt my lesson, and henceforth will visit only at lunch time. Also, getting to the restaurant is slightly tricky in the labyrinthine HKV.
Table talk: This being the food of Central Kerala, home of the Syrian Christian community, expect porattas, appams and kappa rather than idlis and dosai. The kothu porotta with vegetables/egg/chicken (Rs 190/200/220) is the classic street food of Kerala, made by shredding a flaky parotta and griddle-cooking it. Main course treats include a wonderful, healthy beans thoran (Rs 150) in which the beans retain their fresh crunchiness and the grated coconut remains a pleasant note in the background. The erisheri (Rs 190) is a pumpkin ‘bharta’ with a hint of coconut in it, great as a side dish to the star of the show – a fish curry. We chose meen vevichathu (Rs 450) that lacked the fiery red colour of the dish as it would be made in Kerala, but it did have all the trademark flavours, including that of fish tamarind (kodampuli in Malayalam). While most of the dishes have coconut grated or shredded, the curries are all fairly spicy with the punch of garam masalas or chillies.
Plus and minus: The staircase at the turning from Gelato Roma is not prominent, so people can – and do – miss it. The food is not overwhelmingly deep-fried or nearly as spicy as it would be in a real toddy shop in Kerala, but the clutter-free restaurant with photographs that adorn the wall and clued-in service staff is a little haven.
Must try: Malabar Chicken Korma, Pothu erachi varattiyathu, puttu with kadala curry
Food: 3.50; Service: 3.50; Décor: 3.00
1A, second floor, Hauz Khas Village
Open from 12.30 pm to 12.30 am
Alcohol served, credit cards accepted
Meal for two: Rs 1,200