A whiff of Kerala

IT IS a place that I have heard about for a long time, but have never got around to visiting. The Kalpaka Restaurant is among the many small Malayali eating joints that seem to have sprouted all around the city in recent times.

It is tucked away on the first floor at 318, TTK Road (phone: 28112348). The d�cor is limited to a few chairs and tables in tiny rooms, and there is a separate a/c room. The menu is as plain as they come and has the inevitable gobi manchurian and chicken 65, besides dishes from Kerala. The fare is Syrian Christian of Travancore origin.

As usual, there is hardly anything for the vegetarians. It is not as though Syrian Christians do not eat vegetables. But most restaurants of the similar kind hardly include Malayali vegetarian dishes.

We had ordered the specialties, chicken roast (Rs.60) and prawn fry (Rs.80). Both were tasty. The prawns were more than nice. Made with smoked kokum, which gives it an unmistakable `Mallu' flavour, and plenty of coconut pieces and shallots it hit the right spots. Had the prawns been a little softer and not so tough, the price would have been more than justified.

The parotta (Rs.8 per number) is worth mentioning. It was flaky, soft and yummy. Appam, the other staple was also good. Surprisingly there was no stew of any kind on the menu. Another intriguing absence was the puttu or the steamed rice flour cake.

It was the Syrian Christian beef fry (Rs.36) that let us down. Some thing was amiss there, may be too long on fire or may be the masala. The vegetable fried rice (Rs.47) was a pleasant surprise. Both the quantity and the quality were highly satisfactory.

The Green peas masala (Rs.30) was sad. Besides the fact that the peas were not fresh, they hadn't been even cooked through. Kalpaka doesn't believe in frills like desserts.


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