Grab a quick bite

THE REVERBERATION of crackers has died down. Diyas have been put away and festive clothes are back in the cupboards. It is time to come back to the business of day-to-day living.

Stomachs groaning under the heaviness of ghee-laden sweets and savouries need a let up. So let's go hunting for no frills, value for money food that one gets in small restaurants.

We have on plate this week two speciality eateries.

Chundan (ph: 28553811) is a Malayali joint on Montieth Road, Egmore. Usually, the Mallu restaurants in the city come strictly under the hole-in-the-wall category. Chundan is a happy exception. It is clean, pleasant and has pretty watercolour vignettes of Kerala.

Many small eateries still stick to the dim light d�cor without realising people are more comfortable when they see what they are eating. So Chundan's bright lights are a big plus point.

The menu is strictly the non-veg Syrian Christian type. We started with kappa meen (Rs.40).

Strangely, here the red fish curry is served with plain boiled tapioca instead of the seasoned mash or puzhukku. Prawn fry (Rs.65), quite tasty, was something of an enigma without any masala.

A warning, Chundan is strictly for the tough ones who like their food with a bite. Actually a very strong bite. From kadala curry (Rs.25) and egg roast (Rs.30) to kozhi roast (Rs.60), there was no let up. It was impossible to get through the meal without the life saving swigs of fresh lime and soda.

Grab a quick bite

The parippu payasam (Rs. 20) was just sweetened cooked dal slapped into a bowl. Even after leaving the matter of authenticity out, Chundan does not deliver. One comes away mentally ticking off places, which offer a better deal.

The Oberoi Dhaba (ph: 23719985) on 8th Avenue, Ashok Nagar, is the quintessential just-around-the-corner place with dim lights and all.

Though a dhaba, the menu has an extensive Chinese section too. Since we weren't into experimenting that day, we stuck to tried and tested Punjabi and Mughlai items.

One couldn't get more conventional than dal fry tadka (Rs.32), rajma paneer (Rs.39) and butter chicken (Rs.55) in a dhaba. The dal and chicken never veered from the classic form.

There was no trace of colour on the fingers at the end of butter chicken. Malai kebab (Rs.59) and the rajma didn't quite hit the mark. There is room for improvement with those two dishes. The breads here are good.

It was the mutton biriyani (Rs.50) and gajar ka halwa (Rs.20) that failed totally. Leave aside these; the Oberoi Dhaba is a good place to grab a quick bite.


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