Sunday, October 25, 2015

Coastal Rendezvous

It is holiday season. Many of my friends are on holiday at exotic locales, while I cannot go as of now. Facebook doesn’t make it easier. Vivid, verdant vistas pop up by the minute and poke at you through your work day ennui. Add to that the ‘share your memories’ feature on FB that ensures you’re reminded of every holiday you have taken in the past few years on the same dates. So past fortnight I had a fine blend of pictures from Goa, Kerala, Mysore, Mumbai of many autumns gone by, with surf, sand and seafood. The best part about India’s coastal regions is their distinct cuisines. They may have a common thread in terms of a preference for seafood and use of coconut, yet each region uses them differently. Some curries from coastal Indian states are subtle, light, aromatic and oozing with flavours while others can be fiery and hot. For someone who has stayed and loved living in coastal regions in the past, sometimes being in land-locked Delhi can stir a very strong yearning for all things coastal, especially when a beach holiday is nowhere in sight.

I did the next best thing, I headed for the Coastal Reef restaurant in Bani Square, which has somehow emerged as a mini and budgeted cyber hub of sorts! Step into ‘Coastal Reef’ and you get that marine feel of ship like interiors of some bygone era. Pale grey walls and marine bric a brac put you in the right frame of mind for a coastal treat.


Mooligai Rasam
We started with Mooligai Rasam that set the spice tempo for a tantalising treat ahead.

Seafood Sampler
For starters we tried the seafood sampler which is  a lavish portion of four types of starters-prawn vepudu, crab kurimilagu, tawa fried fish and squid fry. The crab was an absolute delight and it was the first time I actually found squid chewable. Fish was on the spicier side while I prefer my seafood to be mild so one can focus on the flavours rather than the bite. There is a vegetable sampler and meat sampler too. Other vegetarians could try the Karaikudi Potato Roast (Slow cooked potatoes with roasted hand-pounded pepper, cinnamon and fennel) or Achies Varuval (Cauliflower florets cooked with garlic, cumin, ajwain and cashews), a welcome relief from the ubiquitous paneer for veggies in most Delhi restaurants. 

Kerala Mutton Fry

For the main course we tried Malabari Fish with Malabari Parota and Appam. But actually ordering is a tough task as they have curries ranging from Macher Jhol from Bengal to Prawn Kodagu Masala. You are spoilt for choices right from Goan Prawn Curry to Travancore Crab Thoran, yeah right here in the heart of ‘Gudgaavan’!

We also ordered Kerala Mutton Fry as it looked quite tempting. The Malabari Fish and Appams were simply outstanding. The Mutton Fry is a good dish on its own, but with seafood, I found it too spicy for my liking. The other reason was that the Malabari Fish was way too good on its own, a light and thick yellow coconut gravy with a profusion of coriander and ginger. It went well both with the Parota and Appam. For vegetarians too, there is ample choice such as Vegetable Stew, Nellore Mushroom, Vegetable Avial and Tomato Pappu, a tangy Andhra style dal. The best part is they deliver at home too, in the neighbouring sectors. The dishes have an authentic taste, thanks to the Chef who has been procured from Madurai. This is easily the best coastal taste I have experienced outside of 5 star hotels in Delhi NCR and pretty reasonable too.
Malabari Fish with Appam

Elaneer Payasam & Pineapple Kesari

Just when one thought, this was more than enough, the owner, Puneet Rekhi, who is an amicable person and very enthusiastic about guest feedback, suggests some desserts. So we try Pinapple Kesari and Elaneer Payasam. The Pineapple Kesari is just like a pineapple flavoured halwa. But the Elaneer Payasam is something else. It is a dessert that sings to you a sweet coastal song- soft, tender coconut cooked with milk until condensed and then served with fresh chunks of tender coconut. It is a dessert that lingers in your mind for long, a taste that can make you smile until the next time you come face to face with the sea and hear the sound of waves crashing on to the shore. And I mean real coasts and real waves and real surf, that we get in south of India! Not some man-made synthetic beach concoction of an oil rich country!




1 comment:

  1. I'm a big fan of seafood myself and it's a well written post on the same. Great work shivani! I also came across an awesome recipe that I would like to share with you:,-pineapple-and-coconut-flavored-prawn-curry-served-with-bun-pao--cook-gourmet&id=317
    It's my favorite Prawn curry that's really simple and easy to make and easier to eat! Looking forward to more awesome posts.