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A delightful `mess'

Bangaloreans are happily tucking into the cuisine from Madurai at Sri Muniyandi Vilas Hotel

The arrival of the Sri Muniyandi Vilas Hotel at Koramangala marks the advent of yet another specialised cuisine to Bangalore. The IT boom in the city has not only brought brains from all over the country, but also the palates that have a penchant for a certain kind of food.

Muniyandi Vilas caters to homesick techies from the Madurai region, from where the cuisine originates. Muniyandi is the deity of the Vilambu Naidus who dominate the Madurai area and have been running these hotels in Madurai even before the Chettinad restaurants came up. The Muniyandi hotel is often referred to popularly as a "mess".

There is a strong sense of bonding in the predominantly hotel running community. On January 15 each year, the Vilambu Naidus running different restaurants get together near Pudhupatti close to Madurai. They pay obeisance to their deity at the temple at Pudhupatti and serve people non-veg food for two days. This custom, like the restaurants themselves, is a deep-seated tradition.

Traditional fare

S. Rajendra, who was running the Sri Muniyandi Vilas in Madurai, decided to bring the restaurant to Bangalore. Though the fact that his son-in-law lives here is a big draw for the restaurateur, he makes sure each client at the restaurant gets the treatment a son-in-law gets!

And dishing out the royal treatment for home food starved stomachs are four of his expert chefs from his Madurai establishments, each with over 20 years of experience.

The chefs together concoct typical Muniyandi delicacies like mutton sukha, mutton varuval kulambu, mutton paya, liver fry, brain fry, chicken fry and kadai fry.

The vegetarian meals served in the hotel — stamped with the trademark poriyals, kootu, vathral kozhumbu made in typical Madurai style with brinjals, onions and tamarind, sundaka sambar (carrot and drumsticks) — transport you to a typical Tamil Nadu setting. And add to it the garlic pickle, papad, payasam or kesari, and you have a unique dining experience.

Meals also come with gravies of mutton, chicken or fish.

Spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, and clove are added in careful proportions to the dishes, with onions, and given a final dash of flavouring with fresh curry leaves. Jeeraga samba rice, used for biryani, exudes a special flavour and texture. With all spices ground fine, you won't choke on barks or leaves. However, you will stumble upon boiled eggs which are a standard addition in all biryanis. Refined oil and ghee used come all the way from Salem.

The other speciality is the paya, which goes particularly well with dosas or idiyappams. Varieties of chicken and fish dishes are also there to choose from. Do try the Karaikudi fish curry.

Snacks served include dosas, idlys, eggs dosa, ghee dosa, idiyappam, uthappam and appam.

The kotthu parota where onions, curry leaves, eggs and tomato are stuffed between two parotas and pounded, is an extraordinary dish. Mutton and chicken also find place in this parota.

Indulge in the singular aroma of the perangayam (hing) that goes into the sambar and rasam, that also augments the health factor of this food.

At the restaurant here, the menu is handed over for you to make your choice. But back in Madurai, you first get to see before you pick. The waiter carries a large tray with plates displaying the day's specialities.

You just pick up a piping hot dish of your choice and indulge.

Sri Muniyandi Vilas is at No. 110, Ist Floor, 6th Cross, 6th Main, Koramangala Club Road. Phone: 51501660.

M.V. C.

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