Thursday, January 8, 2009

Heritage India Cuisine, continued

See the first part of the report here.  NOTE:  THIS RESTAURANT HAS GONE OUT OF BUSINESS.

Unfortunately I didn’t remember this when I went in and had the Karimeen Fry, a whole fish the size of an adult hand that is prized in Kerala. The Karimeen is scored then seasoned with a paste of ginger, tumeric, chilli pepper and garlic which is allowed to penetrate the flesh for a bit and then it is fried. The fish was over-cooked for my taste but very good. It is not as bland as tilapia, however, so if you like your fish bland, you probably won’t like this. I had to use my fingers to get at all the little bits of meat. I liked this so much I looked up some recipes online and tried it at home with Tilapia a few days later and I’ll definitely be doing it again.

This came quite surprisingly with a bowl of the Duck Curry in a very thick gravy and lots of it which is not the way it was presented on the buffet and it was much better this way. On the buffet, most of the pieces I got were small and bony; there was more bone than meat. This was not the case with this bowl plus there were globules of the duck fat, too. This was a much more satisfying dish; I wouldn’t have ordered the Duck Curry based on what I had on the buffet so this was a pleasant surprise.

On another visit having studied the to-go menu I was intending to order either the Fish Moilly or Meen Peera. According to what I’ve read online the latter might have been made with either sardines or smelts if it had been available but it was not listed on the in-house menu. I was hoping the Fish Moily would be made with the Karimeen as I wanted to try it again but it is made with kingfish instead so I decided to venture off the section of the menu with the dishes of Kerala and try something from the Vegetable listings, opting for the Navrattom Korma with a Porotta.

The Porotta was great, wonderfully flaky and not overly oily; it could almost be described as light. I’ve had the Korma before at Bhojan, a version which included paneer. The name means ‘nine gems’ and the dish is supposed to contain nine vegetables. I enumerated green beans (perhaps green beans and long beans), potato, carrot, cauliflower, broccoli and peas, plus bits of pineapple as a garnish and a few cashews and a couple of whole cardamom pods. I don’t think of myself as a fussy eater but I am picky about some things. I am very, very picky about how vegetables are cooked and these were over-cooked for my taste so I didn’t enjoy this as much as I had hoped.

My favorites so far have been the Thali, Duck Curry, Steak Fry, Kacheyamoor, Payasam and Palappam, plus the version of Thoran served on the buffet which was made with cabbage and carrots rather than long beans and amaranth in the version on the thali.

They’re open Tues-Sat 11:30 to 8pm and 11:30 to 6 on Sunday. They have taken on a new partner who is adding Northern Indian and Indian Chinese dishes to the menu and Saturday they have a buffet from 11:30-3 of those specialties while the Sunday buffet is the Kerala dishes. During the week for lunch, anyway, you’ll likely be served directly by one of the owners, So far I have not tried any of the Northern Indian or Indian Chinese items.

Like I said, it’s not the same as Indian cuisine served elsewhere, although there are a few of the standby dishes available; but if you like exploring and experiencing different cuisines, this is definitely one to try. All the dishes I’ve had had a moderate level of heat but if you’re a heat-seeker don’t forget to ask about the spice levels.

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