Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tasty Chennai - I

Copper Point GRT Grand ChennaiWhile Bangalore was very pleasant, I had no such luck in Chennai. I stepped out into the hot, humid morning at the airport and quickly made my way to the waiting car and drove to The Trident. Later in the day, I dined at the Samudra, a Indian seafood restaurant at this hotel. The Sea Bass Varuval made of grilled fish maninated with fresh ground pepper, curry leaves and chillies and other spices was delicious. So much so, I ordered another portion.

The Samudra at Trident Chennai
Fish Varuval at SamudraThe Moplar Lamb Biryani from Kerala was good too and came with a bowl of gravy along with the raita. The Moplars are a distinct community from Kerala, who like the Chettiyars of Tamil Nadu, have been long known for their culinary traditions that was heavily influenced by the Arab traders who came here to buy Indian spices. We ended dinner with some apple jalebis and ice-cream which were rather ordinary.

Moplar Biryani at Samudra
Apple Jalebis at SamudraIncidentally, the Trident has a pretty good spa with trained Indonesian therapists. Try the Balinese massage here if you have a few hours to spare. The spa is housed in a low-rise colonial-style building on a lush green garden adjascent to the pool. Very nice!

The Trident Spa in ChennaiThe last time I was in Chennai was in March and stayed at the GTC Grand. I have already written about their excellent Mediterranean restaurant, Azulia. Given how much I had enjoyed that experience, I decided to also try their other restaurant, Copper Point.

Copper Point serves Indian cuisine and has a good selection of both North Indian and South Indian specialities. Having just come from New Delhi and a trip to the Bukhara, I wasn't going to try North Indian food here! I ordered a Kerala Pepper Chicken with appams and sat back to enjoy the live South Indian music.

The interiors were decorated with shiny copper and brass utensils. On this Sunday night, the restaurant was quite crowded. A musician was playing South Indian classical on his violin, with tabla and ghatam players accompanying him. The diners were equally engrossed in the food and the music, and the musicians acknowledged by taking requests.

Kerala Pepper Chicken at Copper PointThe chicken was succulent, fiery and spiced just right. But the highlight today were the excellent appams and the meen moilee. Made right in front of me in a live station, the appams were amazingly light and soft with crispy edges. The meen moilee, another Kerala speciality, is made of mildly flavored white sauce made of coconut milk and spices. Excellent stuff!

Appams and Meen Moili at Copper PointI ordered a dessert of gulab jamuns bobbing in rabri. Unfortunately, these were a letdown. The jamuns were hard and no good at all. I should have stayed away from the desserts altogether.

I was up early next day. I was shivering - the damn AC was on overdrive for some reason; I had to switch it off completely. As is my usual practice in Chennai, I stayed with vadas and idlis for breakfast. While they were good, the ones at the Raintree last time were better.

Breakfast in ChennaiBTW, the GRT Grand has a pretty good gym and spa. Apparently, the Ayush spa is a Hindustan Lever venture that specializes in Ayurvedic treatments including massage therapies and body scrubs. Try it if you are here!

Lunch at Saravana BhavanFor lunch, a colleague took me back for a grand vegetarian lunch at Saravana Bhavan. I gorged on the sambhar, rasam, and multiple vegetable and rice dishes in front of me. For once, I didn't miss meat. :)

Update: I was shocked to read in the newspaper that Saravana Bhavan's founder has been convicted for murder. Read this and tell me if you will eat their sumptuous meals again.


Deepti said...

Sudden craving for authentic Kerala Biryani .. and fish molee :)
Feat to the eyes as well :)

Chica said...

Wow... is that true...??? I used to love Saravana Bhavan when I lived in Chennai ...!!!

Vamsee Modugula said...

Everytime I read your posts, I sigh at how lucky you are to eat all this good food. The Biryani and the Sea bass sound very delicious. Never heard of an apple-jalebi. I always stay at The Park when I am there for work - will try Trident or GTC and see if I can steal a few hours from work and get that massage you mentioned.

Your blog posts never fail to make me hungry. Got to go cook!

Anonymous said...

@Deepti: Me too. That was the last time I had Fish Moilee; loved it!

@Shikha: Wasn't that shocking?

@Vamsee: I have reviewed The Park some time back too; interesting hotel with all the old movie posters.

Anonymous said...

For once, I have just ate, so I'm not too hungry!

I love the shape of the plates in the first couple of pictures. I'm very French when it comes to the art of food and I enjoy the way food is served... unlike a lot of North Americans.

Anonymous said...

@zhu: Me too. Food in India has always been served family style, and plating food to make it look appealing has not been an Indian tradition. However, some restaurants are beginning to put more effort into this now.

GMG said...

Hi Shantanu! Sorry for the absence, but I’ve been busy with my parents’ health; almost 180 years to care... ;)

One day I'll get to Chenai and you'll give me the best addresses... ;))

Blogtrotter is paying homage to Vilnius as European Capital of Culture 2009. Hope you enjoy and have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

@GMG: Good to see you back here. Hope your parents are better now.

Rajesh said...

I have not stayed in this place in Chennai. From the snaps the food looks to be tasty. I had been to Coramendal and the food was excellent.

Anonymous said...

@Rajesh: Yes, the Trident is a pretty good place. I haven't yet tried the Coramandel. May go there next time to sample the fare at their Italian restaurant.

indicaspecies said...

Grilled fish marinated with fresh ground pepper, curry leaves and chillies... that sounds yummy!
Whenever I get into the mood, I go for a veg thali and thoroughly enjoy it, not missing non-veg food those times.

Shantanu said...

@indicaspecies: I love my thalis too! Especially when I am in one of the South Indian states.

Srivalli said...

this is a real treat!..and abt Saravana Bhavan, gosh never knew the update!

Shantanu said...

@Srivalli: Yes, that was quite a shocker to me too.