Peninsular cuisines have finally come into their own
Atmospherics: Right next door to the gigantic Haldiram’s in the Outer Circle is this modest eatery. Nothing typifies the diverse ways of doing business in the opposite ends of our country than Searock and its neighbour. One has bright, well-lit signages that can be seen from a mile away; the other can be noticed only when you are standing in front of it. One bears the owner’s family name; the other name is rather indeterminate, sadly. One is a household name; the other is virtually unknown in spite of its unbelievably good food. However, with the convenient location and its commitment to quality, we will be hearing more about this brand as time goes on. I have not tried any of the Kerala dishes, but the South Karnataka and the Tamil Nadu sections are excellent. Needless to say, the kitchen is staffed by cooks from the appropriate regions for authenticity.
Table talk: Do not miss the chicken ghee roast (Rs 450). The trick of this preparation is the use of ghee made in South Karnataka. ‘Washed’ with salted water, it has a definitive flavour and cannot be substituted by Jharna or Verka ghee, great as those brands may be. The other outstanding dish is Pallipalayam mutton chops (Rs 475), famous throughout Western Tamil Nadu, in the region known locally as Kongunadu, abutting Kerala. The spices used in this region are very distinctive and the chops embody the warm, subtle flavour of Kongunadu masala with its emphasis on turmeric: Kongunadu grows the country’s biggest cache of the golden spice. Other great options include Chettinad chicken (Rs 429) which is one of the finest versions I have ever sampled. It is all too easy to let the plethora of spices used in this dish spin out of control where one dominates the other. It is far more difficult to make each of them play a harmonious part in the final result. Even the pieces of chicken were imbued with the scent of spice. It is a rare restaurant that serves top quality freebies. I could make a meal of the coconut chutney, the lentil chutney and the pickle of diminutive mangoes, each as large as a thumbnail, seed and all.
Plus and minus: Yogesh Poojary, the manager is a genial Hitler who will make sure that you order the traditional accompaniments to each dish. The menu requires re-working: for a customer unaccustomed to the names, it is quite a maze to navigate, being neither segregated by cuisine or by principal ingredient.
Must try: kori gassi, Thakkali meen kozhumbu, avaikai vegetarian biryani
Food: 3.75; Service: 3.75; Décor: 3.50
L 3-4 Connaught Place,
Tel: 9999295785, 9999295793
Open from 12 noon to 12 midnight
Credit cards accepted
Meal for two: Rs 2,000