Nila is a new restaurant that celebrates sea food

Pocket fish. The very name on the menu intrigues me. The dish gets its name from the square Basa slices fish marinated in tomato and Schezwan sauce before being fried. The recipe is the brain child of Ganeshmoorthy, head chef at Nila, a multi-cuisine restaurant at Gandhipuram. It specialises in Continental sea food. That is a rarity in the city, says Mujmel P, restaurant director.

The menu attracts with its unusual names. Take, for instance, border fish, a semi-gravy preparation. Made with a generous dose of pepper, small onions, curry leaves and green chillies, it is really spicy. Balance this out by having it with fluffy parottas shaped like topis. The triangular shape apparently helps retain heat in all layers.

Nila started off as a bakery in the early 90s and branched into a full-fledged restaurant in the last few years, says Mujmel. It has many branches in Kerala, and also supplies food for some IT companies.

Last week, Nila held a sea food festival. “People loved it. There is a craze for sea food in the city,” says Mujmel.

The restaurant indulges in fusion food too, teaming seafood with traditional Chettinad masalas and Chinese sauces. For instance, their mussel Karaikudi, where mussels are cooked with masalas, red chillies and grated coconut and fried onions, has become a hit among customers. “The Karaikudi style is popular here. So why not team it up with mussels so that people can appreciate the meat better?” asks Ganeshmoorthy. 

 The chef serves me fish moilee and appam. People who cannot handle too much spice can try this out. The sweetness of the appam complements the gravy cooked in coconut milk. The meat is so soft it falls off the bones. “All our fish are sourced from Calicut. We do not use frozen meat as that kills the flavour.”

In contrast to the subtle flavour of fish moilee is the Nila special chicken curry served with steaming puttu. The head chef recommends this. The puttu, rich with grated coconut, blends like a dream with the thick coconut curry.

Apart from these, Nila also offers chicken malai tikka, hariyali kebab, tandoori chicken, tangdi kebab Thalassery biryani, noodles, rotis and naans. The hariyali chicken tikka, along with pudhina chutney, is a marriage made in heaven.

Next, I am served the Nila special falooda. The three-layered dessert, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, rose milk, semiya, khus-khus and cut fruits, look tempting. It also marks the end of my “no sweet” resolution for the month.

(The restaurant is at Hotel Tamil Nadu complex. It is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and for dinner from 6.30 p.m. to 11 p.m. For details, call 86061-44999)