Savour the flavours of Malabar at a food festival at Coriander restaurant, The Capital

Of all the delicacies of Kerala, dishes from Malabar are the favourites of many food lovers in the state. Malabari dishes draw inspiration from their counterparts from across the globe, including Arabic, French and Portuguese delicacies. They are also noted for the presence of coconut milk, which serves the purpose of balancing the spicy flavours. The ongoing Malabar Food Festival at The Capital (located near the GPO at Pulimoodu) is a veritable celebration of the myriad tastes of Malabar.

As I stepped into the Coriander restaurant in The Capital, one thing I could not help but notice was the neat blend of the Malabar theme with the classy environs of the restaurant (complete with live counters, thatched roofs and linings). “We have done our best to recreate the experience of dining at an eatery at Malabar, for The Malabar Food Festival,” says S. Hari Hara Sudhan, general manager of The Capital. “We have brought together an assortment of authentic dishes from Malabar made available as a themed buffet. To add on to the dining experience, live Ghazal and Mappila song performances are also held on weekends,” he adds.

The buffet counter had a nice variety of dishes up for grabs. Chamba rice and konju biriyani (the day’s special) were readily available at the counter. Chemba puttu, erachi puttu, pathiri and coin parotta were also available on demand. “The konju biriyani is one of our in-demand dishes,” says Mithun Lal, one of the chefs. “It is a proper dum biriyani, which is prepared using khaima rice. Spicy prawn masala is added between the layers of khaima rice and is cooked for about 30 minutes to prepare the same,” he explains.

The ‘side’ dishes were the real attraction. I had to choose between kaduku kozhi curry, aadu kakkan, netholi peera, and the traditional beef fry.

The festival also had an array of common vegetarian dishes such as sambar, avial, thoran and vegetarian stew.

The options for dessert were limited in comparison, however. My choices included unnakkaya, falooda and payasam.

I decided to start off with the appetiser – njandu soup. The taste was quite delectable; the presence of onions, garlic, ginger and pepper along with crab meat made it quite luscious. The appetiser did its trick as I proceeded to the main course without much ado.

After some deliberation, I chose the konju biriyani for the main course with small helpings of kaduku kozhi curry and aadu kakkan. Konju biriyani turned out to be the winner of the day – the rice was well cooked and the prawns tasted just right: the pieces were soft and delicious. The use of coconut milk was evident in the kaduku kozhi curry, which made the dish less spicy than expected, yet delicious. Aadu kakkan – the mutton dish was a tad spicier, but was still mouth-watering. I was left yearning for more as I munched the last piece of mutton, only to be let down by the size of my tummy!

I concluded with a few pieces of unnakkaya and a glass of falooda for my dessert. Unnakkaya is the quintessential Malabari dish which, essentially, is steamed, stuffed banana rolls. Along with the falooda, it made my experience of Malabari food complete; something which I would like to try out again.

The Malabar Food Festival is on till July 6. The timings for the lunch buffet are from 1.30 to 3 p.m. and the dinner buffet, between 7 p.m. and 10.30 p.m. It costs Rs. 350 for a person, plus taxes.

Call: 9995809884/ 9995809885/9995809888