Food

Living up to its name!

FLAVOURFUL FARE Alleppey sole fish curry

FLAVOURFUL FARE Alleppey sole fish curry   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

From Bengali shukto and Alleppey sole fish to vindaloo and daab chingri, the varied options at Jamun satiate the expectations of a foodie

Nice name, I said to myself when my brother-in-law told me that he had been to a new restaurant in Lodhi Colony. It was called Jamun, and he said it served outstanding food.

Then, some days ago, a friend invited us over to Jamun for lunch. I got a little worried when I landed up there — the restaurant is in the Lodhi Colony Market — and found the place empty. Though crowds are no yardstick of how good the food in a restaurant is, an empty place can be a cause for concern. But I needn’t have worried — for the place started filling up, and by the time we were done with our lunch, there was even a queue outside.

Let me start with the décor and the music. It’s a warm place, with dangling lamps that lighten up the room. There is great music playing — black-and-white music, as I call it, or songs of the sixties.

And now, before I go on to the amazing food, here’s the drawback. The menu is comprehensive — but a lot of what is listed is not available. I had read about its Pandhi Coorg curry, but it wasn’t available. The pork had just come in, I was told, and would take a while to be readied. One of their very popular fish dishes was not there either.

I asked the helpful server if there was any pork dish on the menu. There is vindaloo, he said, and I was happy.

Unlike the others with me, who gorged on the crispy potato and sabudana papads that came to the table, I waited for the real stuff. So by the time the food came, I was raring to go.

We ordered a mix of dishes — a Bengali shukto, a Kerala sole curry and some daab chingri, apart from the vindaloo. And for starters, we had fried white bait and tenderloin cubes.

Fried white bait

Fried white bait   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

I thought the food was excellent. Some of my companions griped a bit, and said their last meal was a lot better, but I had no complaints. The crispy white bait — small fish with a crunchy batter — was excellent, as was the tenderloin, cooked with pepper and curry leaves.

The shukto — a mildly bitter dish of vegetables cooked in a very light sauce — wasn’t quite like the kind cooked in my in-laws’ house, but I enjoyed it. The sauce was a bit too sweet, though shukto is meant to be sweet and bitter. I think they tweaked it a bit to cater to the tastes of the large mass of people the Bengalis refer to as non-Bengalis.

The Alleppey sole fish curry, eaten with red rice, tasted really good. It wasn’t hot, but had the flavours of whole spices, and a bright colour and a mild tart taste that may have come from kokum. What I loved was the pork. The pieces were tender and juicy, and the thick masala was just right. I ate this with some Goan poi, which, however, left me a bit cold. I found the bread too hard and dry.

For dessert, we had some mishti doi — avoidable, I would say — and a nice sorbet called Jamun ki kulfi. The jamun had been bought while in season, pulped and frozen. And the dessert was shaped like a kulfi, and tasted like sorbet. It had captured the taste of the jamun, and I loved it.

It was a very nice meal and I am glad the restaurant lived up to its name — and my expectations.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 5:06:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/living-up-to-its-name/article22782894.ece

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