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Varieties from Chettinad cuisine

At Madurai Appu, one can savour some exotic delicacies of Chettinad, be it rabbit, turkey and kadai or chicken and mutton biriyanis.


THE PEOPLE of Chettinad are known for their food and hospitality. And at `Madurai Appu' you can experience both.

The restaurant located at 173, Arcot Road, Valasarawakkam (ph: 4861166/4860022) is conducting a month-long `Kodai Grami Festival' (summer village festival) till June 10.

The restaurant has recreated a rural ambience to match the festival theme by putting up a mud hut with parrot and rat astrologers sitting outside.

The festival, which is predominantly a non-vegetarian fare, has an array of meat items ranging from the ubiquitous chicken, and mutton to rather exotic forest food such as dove, quail, gowthari and duck.

"We love to experiment with our food and when it comes to variety in non-vegetarian cusine, a Chettinad restaurant is the best," says R. Chandrasekaran, proprietor, Madurai Appu. The course began with a welcome drink called Nannari Sarbath and nongu. This according to Chandrasekaran is a summer speciality that helps in reducing the body heat. Skipping the soups and the starters, lest it kills our appetite, we try out the main course. And from an exhaustive list of rabbit, turkey, kadai, chicken and mutton biriyanis, we decided to go for mutton. It was filling and had the right amount of spices in it. The Chicken Chettinad (chicken pieces cooked in a gravy of onions and tomatoes flavoured with curry leaves coriander and ground spices) though mild by Chettinad standards went well with the biriyani. But the pick of the lot was `Appu chicken dosai' and the `Madurai kottu poratta', which came along with river fish gravy, paya gravy (made out of mutton leg pieces, coconut milk garlic paste and green chilly) and mutton liver fry making the combination simply irresistible. Some of the other Chettinad specialities include Pallatur mutton masala, Madurai malli chicken, Chicken 88, Appu karuvattu thokku (made from dry fish), Viral fish fry and Nattu kozhi milagu varuval.

"Pepper, chilly, garlic and ginger are some of the key ingredients, which we use in our preparations. Since the masalas are home-made, it gives a distinctive taste to the dishes," says Chandrasekaran.

There is also an impressive list of Chinese dishes with the indispensable chicken noodles, prawn noodles, chicken manchurian, garlic chicken and fried rice for those who find the Chettinad cuisine too hot for their tongue.

The food festival is on from 11 a.m to 11.30 p.m.

SANGEETH KURiAN

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