Coastal cuisine at Samudra

If you're on the way to the airport, chances are that you've seen the entrance to the Trident Hotel Chennai at Meenambakkam. The property on GST Road is low slung as compared to other five star hotels in Chennai because of its proximity to the airport. A brand of the Oberoi group, while the hotel has been operational for the last 30 years, the interiors have a timeless elegance about them, belying its age.

Indian Coastal cuisine is served at Samudra, one of the two restaurants at the Trident. While the name is a reference to the sea, the sea theme is very subtly played out in the decor with beautiful shells enclosed in niches and playful fish which swim about in their large tanks.

The restaurant is open only in the evenings but they will serve you a meal in the afternoon if you are entertaining a group of friends and want to do it in a charming setting.

Beautiful setting for a meal

Two things grab your attention as you walk in further - a rectangular glass chandelier that hangs in the centre of the ceiling and large glass windows that look out onto the lush, beautifully manicured lawns. A paved walkway leads to the spa and a little beyond is the pool. The muted colours of the furnishings get a boost from the red table runners. Very charming yet very sophisticated.

Executive Chef Indranil Nag

Executive Chef Indranil wields a fine ladle here. Invited for the last day of the Kerala food festival, I did think I was lucky to dine in such a setting. The food was a bonus. Joined by some of the staff from the sales and F&B teams, we spent an interesting afternoon talking about everything under the sun and one of the things I learnt was that the hotel and the Trident brand gets its name from the Trisulam hills in the area.

Papad and homemade pickles to start. The smaller platter is for vegetarians

Aatukul soup

The deep red aatukal soup made with lamb trotters was divine. Every bit of flavour must have been extracted during the long, slow cooking process because it was all there in that ambrosial broth. The flavour of caramelised onions and pepper added to the perfection and despite its colour, it was not pungent. Bits of tender meat from the bone were there for texture.

Tapioca fingers with chammanthi

Pepper fried mushrooms

Appetiser selection of kozhi porichathu (fried chicken), koonthal (squid) coconut roast & fish fry

Meen pollichathu

This festival covered the different cuisines of Kerala and the tapioca finger chips were a novelty for me. Pepper fried mushrooms were also an interesting dish. Shallots, pepper and coconut oil were the base flavours and the flavours were repeated in the koonthal coconut roast, kozhi porichathu and fried fish. Each of the proteins was cooked to perfection, crusty exterior yielding to softness within, the use of coconut oil pointing to the provenance of the recipes. The fish pollichathu was the only dish that didn't quite reach the standard set by the other meats - only a karimeen (pearl spot) is suited to this kind of preparation I think. 

Appam & parotta

Selection of gravies - vegetable stew, Nilgiri curry, prawn mappas, aadu varutharacha curry

The red and yellow gravy was what I was most interested in. Prawn mappas and it was stunning. The gravy was creamy, coco-nutty and tangy, the prawns, so easy to overcook, were juicy and perfect. The vegetable stew was equally delicious. Both appam and flaky Kerala parotta were perfect accompaniments.

Colours of Kerala

Lamb biryani

There was lamb biryani to end the meal with. Made with kaima rice and studded with cashewnuts, it was delicious, the grains of rice carried the flavour of everything that had gone into the pot but held on to their pearl-like shape.

Coconut rolls and tender coconut payasam

Dessert was what I planned to skip but the warm coconut-stuffed rolls were irresistible. The covering looked deceptively thick but was soft, the coconut inside had been sweetened with jaggery. The pièce de résistance was definitely the tender coconut payasam. Served in a martini glass, it was sweet and extremely addictive with bits of tender coconut and the merest hint of cardamom. It was, most certainly, a blissful end to the meal.

Samudra is a gem of a restaurant, a hidden one, no doubt. I can just imagine what it must be like to dine there in the evening, sitting beside those large windows, sipping on a glass of wine and enjoying the best of coastal cuisine. The only sound one would probably hear is the tinkle of glassware and muted conversations.

A meal for 2 at Samudra is approximately 3000/++. Prior reservation is highly recommended.

Samudra, Trident Chennai
1/24 GST Road Chennai 600027.
91 44 2234 4747.


Post a Comment

  • Bake Tales © 2012