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Life beautiful!

Dakshin at Sheraton serves heavenly South Indian dishes – all worth living for, and dying for

Life, the philosopher in me sometimes likes to point out, is all about experiences. You go to a little shack in a street corner, bite into a quick idli dunked in coconut chutney and think this is bliss. Or you are in the dining room of one of the southern State houses, eating mutton fry, spiced with curry leaves and mustard seeds, and you are convinced that life can't get any better. And then, you are in this beautifully done up restaurant in a luxury hotel, gently making your way with a silver fork and knife through some Dakshin Yara – hot and spicy, and incredibly good prawns – and you say to yourself, life is beautiful.

While one and two happen to me all the time, three takes place only occasionally. A good friend, who works for ITC, has for long been urging me to go to Dakshin, which is the South Indian restaurant of Sheraton New Delhi in Saket.

This past week, a young woman in the communications department who's just moved from Kolkata, added her voice to my friend's. I had been to Dakshin earlier and knew the food was indeed very good. So last week I went there for what turned out to be another excellent meal.

A festival of Udupi food was on at Dakshin when we went there. The celebration – which showcased some of the best vegetarian dishes of Karnataka – is now over. If it takes place again, I would strongly advise you not to give it a miss.

But even otherwise, the Dakshin menu is excellent, a very nice combination of the best of the four southern states – Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The vegetarian dishes cost around Rs.625 and the chicken and lamb Rs.800-900.

Exhaustive menu

The menu was so exhaustive that I, for one, was really happy that I was not doing the ordering. Senior Chef C.B. Shankaran, whose smiling face radiates his passion for South Indian food, decided what we should eat – and I didn't quarrel with any of his decisions.

In fact, the first round of vegetarian dishes floored me, and I fell in love with the light avial that came with the appam. The creamy gravy was delicious, and the vegetables in it – from the beans to the peas – had been cooked to perfection.

I loved the meen varuval – a sole fillet which had been marinated in spices and then pan-fried. I am not much into chicken, but enjoyed the chilli and garlic flavour of the kozhi varuval.

My problem with good South Indian food is that I can't decide what I like more – its subtle vegetarian dishes, or the fiery non-vegetarian ones. I am, of course, willing to test this out over time, but for the present, I have to admit that I am happily at sea.

I had a bit of avil – a Kannada dish of vegetables cooked in yoghurt (close to the avial, but with a characteristic taste of its own) with a piece of neeru dosa (made with rice) and I thought it was the best. Then I ate some veinchina mamsam – a very hot Andhra dish of lamb cooked with coriander, chillies and browned onions – with some appam, and was willing to sell my soul for a lifetime's supply of this dish.

I am going to reach a conclusion one day. But till then, life is going to be a beautiful quest. There, the philosopher in me has woken up again!

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 10:21:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Life-beautiful/article16134198.ece

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