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Chettinad specials

NURTURED TRADITION Chettinad cuisine has a glorious history PHOTO: MURALI KUMAR K.

NURTURED TRADITION Chettinad cuisine has a glorious history PHOTO: MURALI KUMAR K.  

The authentic flavours of Chettinad pervades Legend

When J. Prema launched Legend, the Chettinad speciality restaurant in Koramangala last month, she must have done so obviously inspired by the enterprising Chettiars of southern Tamil Nadu. Their travels in lands such as Burma, Cambodia, Mauritius and Malaysia are legendary and one the of best things to come out of their return to their roots in Chettinad, besides their distinct architecture, is the cuisine, known as the food of the warriors in the predominantly vegetarian South. It is very region-specific and over the years, the Chettinad Acchis have zealously nourished the tradition.

With such a history, no wonder Prema couldn't help promoting a place called Legend. Brushing aside fears that a "strange cuisine with stranger dishes" would discourage clients, she went the whole hog. As it turned out, Bangaloreans who are quite adventurous with their food, have readily lapped up the authentic offering. The authenticity you see not only in the food at Legend, but also in ambience with the original sections from an old Karaikudi palace.

The food is a class apart. Take the seasonal veeral fish curry that is found only in Tamil Nadu, the monsoon dish irai fish gravy and Singapore fish head curry, they are all as original as the old ragi ball churner from Karaikudi, embellishing the settings. So do the Yali figurines.

Legend came about after Prema's success with the vegetarian joint Caf�@So Sweet, a hugely popular hangout. She brought in five chefs from Karaikudi, each with 17 years of experience and the 50 non-vegetarian and 30 vegetarian dishes have their stamp on them.

The non-vegetarian specialties include mutton sukka, brain roast, nethili kolambu, brain roast fry, nenje elambu rasam, kothu parota and sora puttu. The vegetarian spread includes valai poo vadai (made out of raw banana flower), paruppu urundai, mushroom kola urundai, biriyani idiyappam and umpteen other items.

One of the chefs, the veteran Velaichamy, specialises in masala pastes and powders. The typical Chettinad biriyani, chicken karaikudi, kozhi biriyani, mutton biriyani all get their flavours from ingredients brought in from Tamil Nadu.

The red chillies come from Madurai and small onions are preferred to the sweetish Bellary onions. The original feel includes the parathas too. The square-shaped veechu paratha from Virudhunagar, roasted in ghee and savoured with chicken masala, exudes that distinct flavour.

Other highlights on the menu include the biriyani idiyappam, Madurai koneyar special curry dosa with egg, mutton pieces, sukha dry on the dosa, the kulipaneyaram and special desserts like akkaravdissal (made out of rice and moong dal), adikumayam (made out of palm sugar, moong dal in halwa form, it is an exclusive desert served in weddings and is good for health) and Rangoon puttu.

Office-goers and techies go about their task of polishing off the last morsel from the copper plates lined with plantain leaves in air-conditioned comfort. At Rs. 250, a couple can feast on a sumptuous meal, dessert included.

The vegetarian meal with rice, sambar, kootu, puli kuzhambu, poriyal, spicy dal with spinach, rasam, pickle and papad at Rs. 50 is as popular as the non-vegetarian one that boasts a portion of the biriyani at Rs. 90.

Legend's specialty is the Shubha Muhurtham food every Monday and Thursday, which is a typical Chettinad wedding feast.

A special spread of 20 dishes, a treat for vegetarians, it is called the Chettinad Kalyana Virundhu.

For anything more on this lovely food, call Legend on 55349934.

M.V. CHANDRASHEKAR

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