In Delhi, Kannur’s on my mind


Malayali food is now available across the city, and here are the basic foods to start off with

I’ve been dreaming of a good Kerala meal for a while now. If all goes well, I hope to have a satiating Vishu feast in a couple of months at my Malayali friends’ place. Since sadhya is usually vegetarian, I thought I should, meanwhile, make the most of some fluffy appam and chicken stew. I went to the net and found that there were two new Kerala restaurants in my neighbourhood. I decided that I’d try both out.

The first was Kannur (Ph: 8750483283), and the second Mariyan (Ph: 8447127533), both in Mayur Vihar Phase III. From Kannur, I ordered some parottas (₹10 each), chicken curry (₹120), buffalo meat fry (₹120), tomato fry (₹50) and (by mistake) kadhai paneer (₹140). With taxes and delivery charges, the bill came to about ₹660.

From Mariyan, a few days later, we asked for the Mariyan Special Chettinad chicken curry (₹180) — though this is not from Kerala — buff meat dry fry (₹160) and appam (₹12 each).

On the two menus are also dishes such as vegetable korma, kadala curry, egg roast, biryani and various kinds of fish preparations.

I love both parottas and appams. Kannur’s parottas were flaky and crisp. I had one with the chicken curry gravy, which was nicely spicy, and the tomato fry, which was rather interesting — tart, but not overly so. Even though the paneer was not on my list, it turned out to be pretty good: the pieces were soft, and the gravy was thick and creamy.

I was looking forward to the buffalo meat fry, but that sorely disappointed me. I tried out a piece when it arrived, and found it much too hard. So I pressure cooked it a bit, but even then it was too chewy. I had thought I’d have one parotta with the meat fry, but after bravely struggling with the meat, I gave up.

Mariyan’s buffalo meat fry, however, was delicious. It was a bit different from the ones that I’ve had over the years. For one, it didn’t have the little coconut bits that the Kannur buff had (I really enjoy the fried coconut in this dish). Second, the meat had been cut into strips, like small fish fingers. And the pieces had been dredged with corn flour and masalas, and then fried. It had a heady flavour of garlic, and the cornflour gave it an enjoyable crunch.

The Chettinad chicken curry was delicious, too. The gravy was thick and had a coconutty taste, while the meat was so tender that it fell off the bone. I had the curry with two appams (which, despite the 6-odd-kilometre journey, were fluffy and soft when I had them for dinner). I missed not having parottas with the buffalo meat.

Well, that can soon be remedied; all that I need to do is make a call. I am glad I have these small Kerala eateries in my neighbourhood. There was a time, not so long ago, when I used to comb the areas around hospitals in search of good Kerala food. Hospitals meant staffers from Kerala, which, in turn, translated into good regional food. Now, these eateries can be found in all parts of Delhi. Namaskaram, I say to them.

The writer is a seasoned food critic

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