Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tasty Chennai - II

Watermelon Cosmo at Fisherman's Cove ChennaiSouth Indian cooking is set apart by its unique combination of spices, freshly grated coconuts, curry leaves, tamarind and chillies - lot of them! During this trip and the last one in March, I had a chance to sample more Chennai goodness. One evening, a friend took me to Fisherman's Cove, a lovely seaside resort hotel on the outskirts of Chennai. A cool ocean breeze blew in from the Bay of Bengal as we chatted away over cocktails at Baypoint View, a seafood restaurant and bar that is right on the beach. The flaming torches, crashing of the waves and wooden umbrellas over the tables gives this place oodles of atmosphere.

Baypoint View ChennaiDinner was wonderful here, as much for the food as for the surroundings. The Snapper grilled in South Indian spices and vegetables was awesome. The chef uses a light hand with the spices bringing out the best in the fresh catch. My friend chose the tri-chocolate mousse for dessert while I settled for the shahi tukra with kulfi. Yummy!

Snapper grilled at Baypoint ViewTri-chocolate Mousse at Baypoint View
Shahi Tukra and Kulfi at Baypoint ViewZamindars were powerful landlords during Mughal and British rule; they lived off the lands they managed and held sway until Independence. These zamindars were known for their power and status. They lived life to the fullest, in extreme comfort which obviously includes the best of food and wine. Zameendar, a restaurant in Anna Nagar, celebrates the spicy cuisine of Andhra Pradesh and takes us back to those times.

The interiors are simple with segregated seating areas, large tables, and fast-food type paper napkins on the table. We started with a platter of starters that included chilly chicken, mutton sukha, and pepper chicken. The pepper chicken and mutton sukha were very good!

Starters at Zameendar Chennai
Biryani at Zameendar Chennai
AndNellore Chepalla Pulusu at Zameendar ChennaiWe then moved to a very spicy, red Andhra fish curry called the Nellore Chepalla Pulusu. I liked this one because it was so different from the regular fish curries. It had a tangy, hot and very satisfying taste. The fish was very fresh too - they say they only keep the freshest fish and don't use refrigeration here.

Finally, we had to taste their most popular dish, the Nellore Mutton Biryani. The biryani was served with a cucumber-tomato raita and some kurma-gravy. Great stuff, and with a definite Andhra touch.

Zameendar is located in Anna Nagar right next to the Sundaram Medical Foundation. Try it out if you are here and enjoy spicy Andhra food. They have a very busy take-out counter too.

Annalakshmi ChennaiThe other restaurant I visited was Annalakshmi. This is not just another restaurant, but a place that intends to marry art, culture and food into an exceptional dining experience, albeit a vegetarian one. The restaurant is filled with an art-gallery ambiance and has as its centerpiece a large idol of Annalakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of abundance. The servers in the restaurant are all volunteers, who very often have other day jobs.

Annalakshmi Chennai
Being Served at AnnalakshmiI began with a very interesting local cooler called Paanagam made of jaggery and tamarind. We ordered some of their best rice-based dishes: the Puliodharai, rice made with a specially reduced tamarind pulp, followed by the Ellu Saadham, rice flavored with crushed sesame seeds and garnished with fried peanuts and curry leaves. They recommended the Oorulai Kizhangu Kara Curry, finely diced potatoes, spiced with red chillies and garnished with curry leaves. All of them were excellent. I was so happy to taste the excellent Puliodharai again; in Mysore, where I spent my childhood, this favorite of mine was called Pulliogray. The Ellu Saadham was very good too; this was the first time I tasted this wonderful dish.

Delicious Rice Dishes at Annalakshmi ChennaiThe rasam, applams (South Indian papad), and varieties of pickles that accompanied our food were awesome too; I was reminded of my Mysore days again when they got us saunf coated with colored sugar which we called 'peppermint' those days .

Saunf at Annalakshmi ChennaiWith all that rice in us, we could barely walk out. There was no way we could even think of dessert tonight! Annalakshmi is located at 804, Mount Road in Chennai. They have branches in Perth, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur too.


Vamsee Modugula said...

I could use that Martini right now:)
As usual, great post!

Going right to Andhra food because that is where I am from. Nellore fish curry is supposed to be the best although my mom's Chepalla Pulusu can give it a run for its money. Never had Nellore mutton biryani, will try it one of these days.

I will be in Hyderabad next week. Do you have any restaurant recommendations?

anu said...

hi shantanu thorughly enjoyed reading yr posts-amazing hw u get the names of the south indian dishes so perfect Urlakarzhungu kara aloo curry n puliodarai saadam they r tongue twisters:)))next time do try out vattakorzhumbu-had read abt the news on sarvanabhavan quite sometime back but nevertheless food there is awesome.Try out murugan idlis in yr next visit.And ya carnatic musicians play mridangam not tabla:)))

Anonymous said...

@Vamsee: I have been in Hyderabad only once in recent times. Other than Paradise Hotel known for its biryani, I can recommend the Taj Krishna and its excellent restaurants.

@anu: Thank you for the pointers to Murugan, etc.

Anonymous said...

A cool photograph of that chilled glass. and what a delicious way to experience Chennai!
great style...

Anonymous said...

The red curry looks spicy! My eyes are almost watering thinking of how spicy it must be! :D

I'm gonna need some of that drink, in the first picture :$

Anonymous said...

@travelscribble: Even more so in the warm climes of Chennai.

@Zhu: Ha, ha! Oh yes, it was very hot and spicy.

indicaspecies said...

I love South Indian food, though I often wish they'd cut down a bit on the pungency. I'd like to try that Snapper and the Nellore Chepalla Pulusu. Nothing to beat the taste of fresh fish! Andhra food in cool!

Final_Transit said...

Ah, yummy yummy! Wonder if I can make some of that curry :P

Shantanu said...

@indicaspecies: Lately I have begun seeing some restaurants (usually five-stars) begin to experiment with Indian cuisine: less spicy, less pungent, and more pleasingly plated. The Masala Klub at the Taj West End Bangalore is one such place.

@Final Transit: :)

beaverboosh said...

shantany - your blog is one of my favourite exotic escapes!

kyh said...

reminds me of the meal I had at the karaikudi restaurant that day. the curry and all look delicious! I love my meals extra hot and spicy. I'm one guy who can't live without chillies, and hence Indian and Thai food suits my palate perfectly. ;)

Shantanu said...

@beaverboosh: Thank you!

@kyh: If you love spicy, you will love South Indian cuisine. :)

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