Suddenly, there are new restaurants everywhere. We visited three of the newest, all within a radius of five kilometers. Two of them are part of renowned chains in Delhi and Mumbai, and all serve Indian food. METROPLUS brings you some appetising feedback

MOTI MAHAL TANDOORI TRAIL

After Partition, a dejected Kundan Lal Gujral came to Delhi. The cook, famous for his tandoori chicken in Peshawar, wondered what the future held in store. As it turned out, there are nearly a 100 restaurants in the country and abroad today that celebrate his style of cooking and a culinary tradition that dates back 93 years.

The 72-cover outlet in Coimbatore is no different. Brothers A. Vignesh and A. Vivek run the franchise, which is almost a family affair. Their mother Raji Ashokan has designed the interiors. Lots of sunlight and spacious interiors welcome visitors in.

The chain is known for its tandoori items, butter chicken, dal makhni and paneer specialties. “We wanted to bring a branded North Indian/Mughlai restaurant to town,” says Vignesh. It helps, he says, that Moti Mahal has a great franchise system. All chefs are trained at the main kitchen in Delhi.

And they have exacting standards. “When we showed them the paneer that was available locally, they refused to cook!” And, so now, they curdle full-fat milk and make their own paneer — white, soft, crumbly and airy, the way it should be.

The best part are the pre-plated meals — the lovely veg and non-veg thali and a combo meal (veg and non-veg) that can serve two. The portions are generous and the food is served absolutely hot.

It’s difficult to finish a thali —butter naan, paneer butter masala/chicken or mutton, veg gravy, dal makhni, a bowl of rice, raita, papad and gulab jamun. Service can be smarter, but it’s a new place; and is still finding its feet. But, judging by its food, the restaurant is worth many visits. A basic meal for two will approximately cost Rs. 500.

Address: 41/41, Race Course Road, near Marrybrown.

Telephone: 4220355 & 4220366

Timings: 12.30 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

BOMBAY BRASSERIE

There is nothing more welcoming than walking into a warmly lit, tastefully decorated restaurant. Bombay Brasserie is done up in blues and warm yellows. Black-and-white photographs of Mumbai grace the walls. To add a local flavour, perhaps, there are aatangals and ooruga jaadis strategically placed. Best of all, behind a huge plate-glass partition, diners can see their rotis being made.

Bombay Brasserie Coimbatore is the first franchisee in India from the house of the well known Copper Chimney, explains M. Vijaykumar who is no stranger to the food business (his family runs the Anjappar chain). Though he pursued a different career, the passion for food rubbed off and he brought the celebrated Mumbai eatery to town.

Indian food from various parts is the restaurant’s USP. So, from Pind chana from Punjab to Paanchphoron chicken from Bengal, the country is deliciously well covered. Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and others have a proud representative.

A point to note is that the soft, crumbly, creamy cottage cheese comes all the way from Mumbai, as do the chefs. The servings are hearty and tasty. We put the gobhi with sattu, paneer paanch mirchi, lehsuni baingan, makhna methi mutter and hot tandoori rotis to test. They all pass with distinction. Amritsari kulfa (not kulfi) and the jalebi and rabdi combo from the dessert menu do well too. Brownie points for the garam masala chai to round up the meal. Imli golis and orange lozenges arrive with the bill. While the food is rich, the fare is reasonable. A meal for two including starters, a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian side dish, roti or rice and dessert costs approximately Rs. 1, 250 (it may vary with appetite and choice!)

Address: 16, Abdul Rahim Road (next to SBI), Race Course

Time: 12 to 3.30 p.m. ; 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Telephone: 0422 4202122/4212223

IT’S ALL GRAVY

What happens when four friends who love food connect over Facebook? They start a restaurant. Gravy run by Hot Chocolate group is a fine dining restaurant started by M.S. Shahnawaz Babu, S.P. Radhakrishnan, P. Murugan and R. Mahesh. While Shahnawaz runs Hot Chocolate, Murugan worked on cruise lines, and Radhakrishnan with the Oberoi group. He now runs restaurants in the U.S. “We are foodies as we come from the Madurai, Nagercoil and Theni belts where people live to eat,” smiles Radhakrishnan. Kothu curry muttai paniyaaram, and liver fry are some of its specialities.

Their objective is to revive forgotten traditional recipes. The masalas are hand ground and come from Madurai and the cooking medium is usually gingelly or coconut oil that adds that extra something to the naatu kozhi kuzhambu and naadan thengaai mutton kuruma. The 70-seater restaurant has a minimalist décor. Glass walls allow you to take in the outside ambience. The murungai chaaru soup is light, has lots of pepper and a dash of mint leaves. The North Indian starter – juicy tandoor mushrooms filled with malai and fried cashewnuts, is delicious.

A recommended meal would be steamed rice with ennai kathirikkai (surprisingly not dripping in oil) and lip-smacking poondu kuzhambu. Eat it with crunchy cauli poo milagu. They also serve kai kuthal rice and thinai rice. For non-vegetarians, the naatu kozhi soup is a winner. High scoring starters include soft tawa fish fry and crunchy desi chicken popstick. Their signature dish is Madurai mutton sukka and the chicken vadachatti choru served with an omelette.The vegetarian vadachatti choru is wholesome and tingling with a taste of gingelly oil. Curd rice ends the meal and the chilled water melon payasam and beetroot halwa supplies the sweet conclusion.

A meal for two costs Rs. 350 (veg) and Rs. 550 (non-veg).

Address: Krishnaswamy Nagar (near Gem Hospital), Ramanathapuram.

Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; 7 to 11 p.m.

Telephone: 83441-41516