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Monday, Oct 07, 2002

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The aroma of Kerala

Yet another Kumarakom restaurant has come up at Ramavaram, which also serves North Indian dishes, besides the Kerala fare.

IT IS back to `adukkala' (kitchen) and `Suriyani Christhyani bhakshanam' (Syrian Christian or Central Travancore cuisine). Obviously, Chennaivasis like the cuisine, or the second Kumarakom restaurant wouldn't have come up so fast.

This time, it is an upcountry version with more space and a bigger menu. The new Kumarakom is at Ramavaram, near the L&T unit (phone: 249 6109). The menu offers North Indian and tandoor dishes too.

We started with kappa and meenthala curry (Rs.35), which has a universal appeal to Malayalis. The kappa or tapioca has always been the victual of the salt of the earth, the labourers and a fast moving snack at the toddy shops.

Now with boom in tourism, tapioca and fish curry have become the mascot of Kerala cuisine.

At Kumarakom, it has retained the earthy robustness that has taken it to the top. The fish head curry was excellent. It had enough heat and acidity to make your taste buds sing.

The prawn (Rs.80) and chicken (Rs.40) fries, Kerala style, were good.

The traditional seasoning, shallots, curry leaves and coconut oil, gave these the typical finish. Another all-time favourite combination, puttu (Rs.20) and egg roast (Rs.20) too is highly recommended.

The other breads, parotta and appam (Rs.5 each for both) kept up their end of the bargain. The only dish that struck a discordant note was fish moilee (Rs.60). It tasted more like a stew into which pre-cooked seer fish pieces were added.

As there was not a single Mallu veg dish except the black channa curry, we plumped for a palak paneer (Rs.45). This turned out to be a very pleasant surprise.

Not much choice is there in the dessert section. There is payasam and more payasam. That night it was parippu or dal payasam (Rs.20), quite a good one at that.

MARIEN MATHEW

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