A taste of the south

Who says southern cuisine is all about idlis, dosas and sambhar? We take a culinary tour of some of the best southern restaurants in our metros. Anamika Butalia, Tejaswi Shekawat and Anumeha Chaturvedi find out.

Anamika Butalia, Tejaswi Shekawatand Anumeha Chaturvedi | Print Edition: November 16, 2008

Culture Curry
Culture Curry, Mumbai
Where: Kataria Road, Opposite Mahim HPO, Near Hinduja Hospital, Shivaji Park
Contact: 022-24440202, 022-24440707
Open: 11.30 a.m.-3 p.m., 7.30 p.m.-midnight
Meal for two: Rs 1,000 (excluding alcohol)
Must try: Meen Pollichathu, Mutton Istew

Although it has been around for years, Culture Curry is still a “dining experience”. The décor is replete with glimpses of the south—Kathakali masks, a carved wooden ceiling, a banana tree, Tanjore paintings and “stambhs” or pillars with diyas. The staff wear lungis and the soundtrack is from popular south Indian movies.

Though the menu is a gastronomical tour of the south—Mangalore, Coorg, Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad and Chettinad—the emphasis is on Keralite preparations.

Try the Meen Pollichathu—fish marinated in red chilli masala, rolled in banana leaf and fried. Or the Mutton Istew—boneless meat cooked in coconut milk, flavoured with green chillies and cinnamon.

Master chef Deepa Awchat recommends “Appam” as the apt accompaniment rather than the oft chosen Neer Dosa. Owing to the number of pure vegetarian south Indian “udipis” and restaurants, Culture Curry’s loyal patrons look forward to “weekly specials” like Bheja Fry and Liver Masala.

If you’re really taken with the place, you can buy the menu card—it’s designed with pictures of popular south Indian actors such as Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan. Now that’s a first…

Dakshin at The Sheraton, New Delhi
Where: District Centre, Saket, New Delhi
Contact: 011-42661122
Open: 12.30 p.m. to 3.00 p.m., 7.30 p.m. to 11.45 p.m.
Meal for two: Rs 3,000
Must try: Dakshin Kal Yera Thokku, Urlai Toast

Natraja and Nandi greet you as you enter. Elephant artefacts line the walls. Waiters in traditional attire. So far, so typical. But the food? The menu offers a wide variety of unique dishes like Urlai Toast (roasted baby potatoes spiced with garlic, cumin and aniseed).

Also try Dakshin Kal Yera Thokku (lobster tails cooked in your choice of stew) and Meen Moilee (sole fish in coconut gravy).

The fiery gravies are served in antique vessels like “Urli” and “Adukku”, and are best had with the Kodi Biryani, a spicy chicken preparation from Hyderabad.

bonSouth, Bangalore
Where: 749 , 80 Feet Road, 4th block, Koramangala
Contact: +91 80 4054 3434
Open: 12.00 p.m. to 3.00 p.m. (for lunch), 7.00 p.m. to 11.00 p.m. (dinner)
Meal for two: Rs 700 to Rs 1,000 (dinner)
Must try: Karuvrpillai eral masala, Mutton pepper fry, Gongura Mamsamu

BonSouth looks like an art gallery when you enter, with 28 original pieces on the walls. And a hand-painted silk sari covers the entire lift-shaft, telling a boatman’s tale from the ground floor up to the third.

It’s an impressive space—three whole floors with two private dining rooms, a live kitchen, banquet area for up to 100 guests and a play zone for children. Not to mention the Wi-Fi in all areas.

But the food is what really stands out. There’s no regular dosas or idlis here. Come for the “Chemeen Porichathu” (deep-fried prawn marinated in chilli paste, grated coconut and curt leaves) or the “Alleppey fish curry”.

We recommend you accompany this with a desi cocktail called “Quick gun Murugan” (a deadly combination of tequila with Baileys) or “Flaming Rasam Vodka”. And for dessert, try the “Elaneer Payasam” (tender coconut morsels in coconut milk and cardamom).

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