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Travancore treat

Crab roast and Syrian beef fry... the flavours are from Central Travancore at Tharavad

Pic. by N. Sridharan

IT IS Malayali food once again. This time, the focus is on Central Travancore at Tharavad, the latest restaurant to have sprung up in Besant Nagar. (ph: 24919171). Earlier, the Italian restaurant, Bella Ciao used to be in the same place.

The lunch menu at Tharavad is limited. The Syrian Christian staples like appam, puttu, idiappam and kappa (tapioca) are served only for dinner. And that leaves us with only rice, biriyani and parotta. Since most of the Malayali joints in the city are non-vegetarian, I was determined to coax at least a shred of greens out of them. So, I ordered the vegetarian meals. The price, Rs. 30, is more than reasonable, yet it cannot explain the poor quality. The only dry vegetarian dish served, cabbage thoran, was burnt. Then there was this proverbial fly-in-the-soup situation. That put an end to the mission.

After the vegetarian debacle, Tharavad gained the ground it lost with crab roast (Rs.80) and Syrian beef fry (Rs.30). Obviously non-veg is the strength here. The crab was delicious. The coconut oil and curry leaf fragrance and flavour made the beef irresistible. Parottas (Rs.6 for one) deserve a special mention. They were soft and flaky.

The mussel fry (Rs.80), though a bit generous with the chillies, was enjoyable. But the mutton biriyani (Rs.60) calls for a rethink. It was as though it had an identity crisis, to be a pulav or a biriyani or it could be it started out as pulav and ended up as biriyani. The mutton could have stayed on the fire for at least ten more minutes. Payasam (Rs.20) of the day, vermicelli, didn't have much going for it either. With selective ordering Tharavad can provide a nice Syrian Christian meal.

So don't be discouraged, give it a try.

MARIEN MATHEW

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