Food

Highway on your plate

The Vaanga Saapidalam Mud Pot Biryani Kadai. Photo: A. Shrikumar  



Earthy indulgence!

On your weekend getaway to Kodaikanal, stop by this restaurant on the Madurai - Periyakulam highway that offers biryani, specially made in mud pots. With a rustic façade and a plush ambience inside, the restaurant specialises in mutton biryani, a range of non-veg gravies and signature items such as Karuvattu kozhambu and Uppukkandam – all cooked in earthenware. The dishes are displayed in big round-bottom mud pots and served in small mann-urulis, custom-made by potters of Karur. Arockia Kennedy Britto, the Managing Director of the restaurant got it specially made so as to cook biryani, rice and kozhambus in batches. He says, “I have been running the business for 11 years here and we are the go-to biryani joint for the Kodai tourists. It’s a custom for many of them to stop here for a quick grab of the mud-pot biryani. My idea of introducing earthenware is to go back to our roots. Food when cooked in the traditional method retains the goodness and native flavour.” He adds, “I believe in simple recipes. Our biryani is of dry consistency and not oily. It retains an earthy flavour, which may not be pleasant for people trying it for the first time as the idea of biryani today has become synonymous with something that’s spicy and oily.” The restaurant also offers Murungai keerai soup and vazhaipoo vadai as complimentary starters.

Vaanga Saappidalam Mud Pot Biryani Kadai

3/264, Eden Garden Restaurant,

Kodaikanal Road,

Batlagundu - 6

Signature dish: Mud pot biryani, Karuvattu Kozhambu and Uppukkandam

Price: Rs.160, Uppukkandam – Rs.80, Non-veg meals – Rs.195

Phone: 04543263100

Veggie’s delight!

Often vegetarians run out of options in the meat hub that Madurai is. But not to worry any more as there is a new address in town for avant-garde and healthy vegetarian recipes that include sprout stuffed dosas, millet-made tiffin items, health snacks, koottanchoru, range of soups, kozhambus and fries. Strategically located on the Madurai - Virudhunagar highway, the restaurant has become a regular haunt for tourists and travellers. “Our USP is organic food and millet recipes. We are trying to promote and cash in on the upcoming trend of organics. For instance, we offer a wide range of dosas that are made from native minor millets such as kambu, kelvaragu, samai and thinai. There’s something called Kambu curd rice which has found enthusiastic takers,” says T. Satheesh Kumar, partner in the business. “It was the idea of my business partner and cousin Saravanan to stand out as a place for vegetarians in Madurai. On highways when people are on the move, they look out for something light, oil-free and healthy. That’s the point we are cashing in on.” The restaurant also offers a wide range of cuisines from Chinese, North Indian and Tandoori to Chaat items. Even the regular thali has been revamped and is offered in a variety of avatars. So if you are bored of all the non-veg messes in town, you know where to go!

Nellai Saravana Bhava,

Next to Tirumangalam Toll Gate,

Kappalur,

Madurai.

Signature dish: Sprout stuffed dosa

Price: Rs. 60

Phone: 9843599993

Home truths on a plate!

For meat lovers, this hole-in-the-wall eatery on the Madurai - Theni highway is a must visit. Popularly known as the Chekkanoorani Akka Kadai, the humble eatery is 60 years old and was started by Bhagyam, a homemaker. Today, her granddaughter Shantha efficiently doles out gallons of Mutton kudal curry and chukka gravy which the joint is famous for. “I learnt the recipes from my mother Kanmani, who in turn learnt it from my grand mother. I follow the recipe to the T and that’s how we are able to maintain the taste and flavour.” 72-year-old Kanmani, recalls the initial days when the eatery was started. “We used to give a full meal for just 25 paise in those days. Kola Urundai (Mutton kheema balls), chukka and fry were popular items then. Only two decades ago, we introduced Kudal curry and it has picked up well. Though the eatery was named after my sister Rani, customers used to fondly refer me as Akka and the place came to be called so.” Every day, the eatery sells over 100 plates of Kudal, chukka and fry each. “Our secret to success is the home-made style. All our masalas are hand ground and it takes two days for us to prepare masalas for the entire month. We replenish the stock monthly and still cook on chulhas, which lends a smoky flavour to the food.”

Rani Vilas Hotel (Akka Kadai)

6/621, Madurai Main Road,

Chekkanoorani Post

Madurai-625514

Signature dish: Kudal gravy

Price: Rs.75

Phone: 9894065919

Spice and nice!

For a fiery siesta, hit the Check post Sekar Mess on the Madurai-Tiruchi highway, a homespun eatery functioning under a thatched roof at Melur. Enjoying a dedicated customer base for the past three decades, the eatery is sought after for Nattukozhi (country chicken) gravy and Meen Kozhambu. With an unmistakable aroma of spices and an appetising colour, the Nattukozhi gravy is something that’s not to be missed. “It’s one item that sells out in no time and we have customers who ring up asking to save a plate or two, in case they get late. That popular is the gravy!” beams M. Sekar. “It was my mother Sevathal, who started the joint. The recipes were curated by her, which we later learnt and perfected through practice. Our speciality is that we offer freshwater fish (kanmoi meen), which is hard to find in plush restaurants these days. All the signature items are cooked in freshly ground masalas. We grind spices like cumin, saunf, turmeric and red chillies in the ammi and attukkal, instead of a mixer. That retains the strong flavour and lends colour and taste to the dish.” Chicken uppukkari and Aviyal kari are the other signature items at the shop.

Melur Check Post Sekar Hotel

Opp. State Transport Corporation Depot

Melur.

Signature dish: Country chicken kozhambu

Price: Rs.90

Phone: 8608193826

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 1:58:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Food/Highway-on-your-plate/article14617816.ece

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