Imbibing Southern Aromas at The Residency Towers

The lobby of The Residency Towers is always a busy place but Southern Aromas, the South Indian specialty restaurant of the hotel is tucked away in a quiet corner and does not call attention to itself. It doesn't need to as it is popular among folks who know that this is one of the best places in the city to have a typical South Indian meal.

Actor Parthiban

Releasing the new menu

The occasion was the launch of the restaurant's new menu by Chef Damu and actor Parthiban last Sunday. The man of the moment was Chef Deena Dalayan who has put together a menu that is representative of the southern states of India.

The Chettinad-inspired restaurant with pillars and tiles and dark furniture

Chef Deena Dayalan

Chatting with the chef who reeled off a list of dishes and their provenance, I learnt that the food of this region has always been what he was interested in cooking. All through the meal, he kept popping by to know if we were enjoying the food.

Panakkam; fish fried with herbs & spices; lentil & banana cutlet; yeral nilgiri perattai 

Panakkam was served first and it was delicious, its mild sweetness perfect for toning down the hits of spice. Starters comprised yeral nilgiri perattai - largesucculent prawns cooked in the restaurant's signature spice mix that had a thick masala which clung to the prawns and was cooked to perfection; neikarapatti vazhakkai vadai - lentil and green banana cutlets had a crisp crust and a filling that was smooth to the bite and idicha malli milagu vanjaram varuval - large, thin slices of seer fish coated with a green paste and grilled. It had a faint taste of rasam, and that was not surprising as the ingredient list was similar. The fish was quite salty, a bit of a let down.

More starters - chicken 65; yam chips

Tawa-fried snapper

A whole red snapper, this fellow still had his teeth on him! It had been tawa fried, the curry paste that coated it was delish. This is not on the menu though.

Brain porichathu -lamb brain cooked with spices and shallots

There is a first time for everything and this was the first time I was having brain fry. When this dish came around, I politely declined but curiosity got the better of me. My dining companion told me it would taste like soft eggs, yes, I guess that is how I would describe the texture.  But that masala - oh man - you've got to taste it to believe it!

Royalla vepudu

For the main course, we ordered appam and royallu vepudu. The appam had a crisp base, and tasted faintly like a dosa, I guess it had been fermented with lentil paste and not yeast. As for the Andhra-style prawns, cooked with shallots and flavoured with fennel powder, it was spicy yet finger-licking good, a wonderful accompaniment to the appams.

Kappa meen curry

The tasting was going pretty well till we decided to order the kappa meen curry. Tapioca and fish curry is a staple dish across Kerala where cooked, mashed and tempered tapioca is served with a fiery red fish curry. Southern Aromas' version was disappointing - the tapioca had been cut into tiny cubes but the fish curry, though delicious, tasted like kulambu, replete with plenty of chopped onions, garlic and the unmistakable flavour of tamarind rather than kokum. A mix up, most probably.  

Lamb biryani

The lamb biryani was fragrant and mildly spiced, though a tad too salty. The meat was very well done, falling of the bone. It was served with a simple raita.

Baked gulab jamun; elaneer payasam

Dessert was a portion of baked gulab jamun. Described as milk dumpling layered with creamy cheese, it looked more like a cheesecake but it wasn't tangy and tasted very ordinary though the jamuns were nice. The tender coconut payasam was served deliciously cold and had shreds of coconut meat, just the thing to cool down with after a spicy meal though I did wish it had been made with fresh coconut milk.  

A few hiccoughs but on the whole, the meal at Southern Aromas is a very pleasant dining experience. They do have thalis, both veg and non veg and a lot of other dishes South India is famous for. If you do go there for dinner, there will be live Indian music as well. A meal for 2 should be around 2000/++.

The Residency Towers.
Sir Thyagaraya Road, T'Nagar.
Call 044 2815 6363 for reservations


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