Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pune Dining: Kokum

Kokum PuneAnother welcome addition to Pune's growing dining options! Kokum, which opened in Viman Nagar recently, brings flavors of the Southern coastline of India to Pune in the form of a fine-dining experience. In fact, this is probably the first upscale South Indian dining place in town. And from my first experience, a must-visit for Pune foodies!

Entering the restaurant, I was impressed by the decor with its large wooden columns, lighting fixtures reminiscent of old havelis, the large brass lamp in the middle, and small bowls of water and flower petals everywhere.

Kokum PuneWe began by sampling their 'thirst-quenchers'. I selected the Khajoora Panaka, a date and tamarind cooler from Udupi, while my wife went with the Kokum Sherbet, a chilled and spicy cooler from the Konkan coast. Both were excellent. Incidentally, Kokum is the fruit of a tree that is unique to Western coastlin of India and is known for its cooling properties during the sweltering summer months. Tamarind is used for a similar reason in much of Tamil Nadu.

Thirst Quenchers at KokumA couple of women dressed in saris cooked us a complimentary bite-sized rava dosas and banana dosas. They also put a variety of banana chips for us to nibble on as we perused the menu.

We chose the Meen Tava Fry, seer fish smothered in a spicy red marinade. We also ordered a portion of the Sukke Maas, marinated kid lamb cubes tossed with roasted coconut and Mangalorean spices. We loved both dishes. Please note: Most of the fish dishes native to Kerala come with bones, but the Meen Tava Fry is relatively bone-less.

Meen Tava Fry at Kokum
Sukka Maas at KokumAfter that came the Neer Dosas, delicate rice pancakes native to Mangalore, and the Shrimp Balchao with rice. The Balchao is a particularly unique Goan dish with shrimp 'pickled' in fiery red spices and malt vinegar. The Balchao was really hot, a little sour, a little tangy; we enjoyed every bit of it!

Neer Dosa at Kokum
Shrimp Balchao at KokumWe picked their Dessert Sampler which has two different payasams, one made of rice flakes in thickened milk, another made with dal and jaggery, with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Again, great stuff!

Jaggery, a type of unrefined sugar, is a product of cane juice where the molasses and crystals are not seperated. A version of jaggery, produced from date palms, is particularly special in Bengal during the winter months. It used to be an essential ingredient in the kitchen during my childhood days but seems to have disappeared now.

Desserts at KokumWe were particularly thrilled with the complimentary glass of Sulaimani tea at the end as they processed the check. This was similar to the Kashmiri kahva, but with unique spices and fresh lime juice; very different and refreshing! This variation of black tea (like the Kashmiri one) came in with the Arab traders many centuries ago, and continues to be popular in coastal Kerala - at one time the gateway to this land of spice.

Sulaimani Chai at KokumKokum is located at Lunkad Sky Cruise near Symbiosis International School in Viman Nagar. Ph: 4015 9555. It is co-located with Zara and The French Loaf in the same complex (they also share the same owners).

Please check the side-bar under Pune Posts for more reviews of Pune restaurants.


Lakshmi said...

I love neer of my favourite varities..

Anonymous said...

With re palm jaggery:

There's a shop on Aundh Road (near the Ambedkar Chowk junction with Bhau Patil Road), called Babu Moshai. Apart from several ethnic Bengali foods, he sells rosogollas made with palm jaggery which are pretty good. Good chance that he might have blocks of palm jaggery for sale.

Aathira Nair said...

That Seer fish fry is mouthwatering!

foodette said...

Wow, those pictures made my mouth water! I have never had South Indian cuisine - most restaurant serve North Indian. I know that there is a place near me in LA, so I will have to go check it out!

Mushtaq said...

Babu Moshia does sell date jaggery. You can also get it from Mithas in Aundh but only between Decemeber and February


very tempting. must visit.

Anonymous said...

@Lakshmi: Not everyone can make them well, unfortunately.

@Ganesh: Oh yes, I buy date-palm based Bengali sweets from them.

@Aathira: :)

@foodette: Just be careful about the high spice level!

@Mushtaq: You are right, Mithas does too.

@Harekrishnaji: Please share your feedback when you do.

Anonymous said...

The last fiery red dish, is the Balchao ? Sounds very interesting


Vijayendra Darode said...

Aha, the Kokum review is here. Looks pretty yummylicious!

Shantanu, how about reviewing XIA (Karve Nagar), and the new and improved "Garden Court"?

Anonymous said...

@Sandeepa: That's correct. Hovering the cursor over pics in my blog will give you a brief description of the photos.

@Vijayendra: Will get around to those soon, hopefully!

Vamsee Modugula said...

All those dishes look yummy! I wish you lived where we do,so I can directly benefit from your restaurant reviews!

Anonymous said...

@Vamsee: Thanks. :)

Ravi Ponniah said...

Really a beautiful place to go with your family . Service was really good and never expected such a service ever in my lifetime till date. Dishes were absolutely fentastic tried Karaikudi Chettinad style gravy absolutely they served with same flovour. I would recommend for the one who wish to expereince your home town food its available at this place in Pune Viman Nagar. I appriciate the cook and the Management for delighting the cutomers.

Anonymous said...

The food in Kokum was such a horrid let down We have sworn never to set foot in there again

Shantanu said...

@Ravi: Thanks for sharing.

@Anon: Thanks for sharing too; I haven't been here after this trip; can't say if their quality has fallen.


Dear Anon,
I feel restaurant's like Kokam or like Kokan Cafe in Taj President or Dakshin in Orchid offers particular type of food. Unless you like it or ready for expeirement one should not try it out.

grk100 said...

this place has closed down now...
and they didn't have any other branches in Pune either, but if anyone knows anything else please let me know. I used to visit this place almost every weekend...the best appam and neer dosa iv ever had... :D