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Flavours of tradition

If at Kanali, the Taj-sponsored restaurant at Dakshinachitra, the menu was simple, at Palmyrah, the multi-cuisine restaurant of Green Coconut Resort, the choice was varied.


IT WAS Pongal, and what better way to celebrate it than traditionally. For non-Tamilians the choices are limited. It is either impose oneself on a friend or watch TV.

So Dakshinachitra it was on Pongal day. After meandering through the beautifully reconstructed old houses and admiring the wonderful craftsmanship of the weaver, potter and basket maker and taking a peek at the festival programmes, it was time for lunch.

Kanali, the Taj-sponsored restaurant at Dakshinachitra, was full. The idea of spending the holiday at a centre promoting tradition seemed to have crossed many minds as the place was abuzz with visitors.

The menu was simple — thali meals, vegetarian (Rs.50) and non-vegetarian (Rs.60). For the non-vegetarians, there was a choice of mutton or chicken. There were two sweets, a vermicelli payasam and chakkara pongal. Both were just average. Sure the thali is heavily subsidised, but why not add a poriyal? The vegetables one got from the veg thali were the odd ones in the kurma and sambar.

On the East Coast Road, beyond the toll booth, it is a whole new country, a land of tourists.

So the prices go up, but sadly the quality does not go the same way. Green Coconut Resort is among the many that dot the way to Mamallapuram. As the name indicates, it is a coconut grove on the backwaters.

On a Tuesday night, we headed for Palmyrah, the multi-cuisine restaurant of the resort. Being a breezy cool night we sat out in the landscaped garden. The starters prawn varuval (Rs.250) and potato sesame fry (Rs.30), hot and tasty, set the mood for the evening. The prawns were perfect, fresh, crunchy and juicy. The fried potato was a match for the prawns in popularity rating. The fresh juices, orange and sweet lime, too were perfect.

We went in for Chinese entrées that night. They were Three Treasures (Rs.75), shredded lamb with bell pepper (Rs.150) and Shanghai chicken (Rs.130) with fried rice and noodles. The Three Treasures were baby corn, mushroom and spinach in garlic sauce.

But there was not even a shred of green in the dish. It was hard to trace garlic in the sauce too.

The lamb was nice while the chicken was another chilly hot glutinous mass. The desserts, gulab jamun with ice cream (Rs.45) and gajar halwa (Rs.35) were passable.

MARIEN MATHEW

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