The flavours of Kuttanad at Southern Aromas

The Kuttanad region is known as the rice bowl of Kerala. Not only is it a paddy growing area but the area also sits below sea level.

Executive Chef Ashok Eapen is treating diners at Southern Aromas, The Residency Towers to the flavours of the region at the ongoing Kuttanadan Food Festival. Invited to review the meal, we landed there for lunch. As we walked in, the rich smell of spices and coconut oil welcomed us.

Boiled tapioca & sweet potato, chutney & mango pickle

Bowls with boiled tapioca and sweet potato, coconut, chilli and onion chutney and a sliced mango pickle were served first. The tubers were well cooked and went well with the chutney.

Prawn  & squid ulathiyathu

For starters, there was a chemeen elavanthenga ularthiyathu - delicious prawns cooked till dry in spices. Also koonthal ularthiyathu - squid with coconut slivers that had been tempered in curry leaves and red chilli bits that was spicy but delightful.

Chicken kurumelagu

Kozhi kurumelagu was another stunner of a dish. Powdered black pepper coated the boneless chicken pieces, making us reach for tissues but we were brave enough not to stop. The masala had plenty of personality and the meat had absorbed it all. According to Chef Eapen, pepper is one of the spices that defines Kuttanad cuisine.

Beef perattiyathu

Karimeen polichathu

 After the impressive starters, the dishes that followed seemed to have lost momentum. Matterachi perattiyathu - tenderloin cooked in ethnic spices could have done with more of the spices and curry paste. The meat was well fried but dry around the edges. 

The karimeen polichathu, wrapped in a banana leaf was duly opened and served at the table. The masala, though tasty, lacked that punch of mustard and the fish would probably have tasted better if both fish and masala had been fried a little more.

Red fish curry & rice

The main course was red Kerala rice and red fish curry. The smoky aroma of kokum was enticing, the red of the fish curry appealing. However, there was too much tomato in the curry and not enough of the kokum which threw the balance of flavours out of whack. And it was spicy hot as well.

What we missed was moru kachiythu - yellow buttermilk curry that is usually served with the fish curry. We also missed the duck dishes that the region is renowned for and appams.
Wattalappam; karikku pudding

Dessert was a delish coconut custard - wattalappam and the jaggery syrup did cool down some of the heat from the fish curry. The karikku or tender coconut pudding on the other hand, had a bit of an identity crisis. It was far too creamy and the coconut had an odd taste. Presentation of both the desserts could be improved.

The starters on the menu are worth every tear you shed because of the spice levels which also will tingle your palate. So go on and indulge.

Kuttanadan Food Festival at Southern Aromas is on till July 1st for both lunch and dinner.

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


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