Abandon civility and discard cutlery, because you won’t need either at the Asli Chettinadu, a new restaurant in Koramangala that encourages you to eat with your hands. Crack open crab claws, scoop up buttery mutton brain fry and slurp payasam, while you ignore the smattering of Chinese dishes on the menu that will probably require you to use a fork.
The lion’s share of the menu here highlights recipes from Chettinad, and we begin our tour by devouring crab roast – a large, whole crustacean that’s juicy and so, so spicy. Peppery-pungent mutton brain fry doesn’t help the fire, showing up at our table with a creamy, scrambled egg consistency, festooned with fried curry leaves that add crunch and charisma. Both dishes are superlative, and cooked with hand ground spices that give each bite a coarse texture.
The biryani is perfectly spiced, chock-full of tender meat and cashews and arrives wearing a wreath of fried onions.
We skip the heavy thali option but settle for an equally lavish one: a handi of mutton biryani accompanied by prawn masala and mutton sukka. The biryani is perfectly spiced, chock-full of tender meat and cashews and arrives wearing a wreath of fried onions. The prawns are sweet and succulent, having completely soaked up the thick masala they’re cooked in; and the grated coconut that tops the soft, hot mutton provides a much needed counterpoint.
If you’re ordering dessert only for respite from the spice, you should know that the gulab jamun is like any other sweet sphere you will eat at a wedding banquet, and the paal payasam is too bland. Try instead a big tumbler of lime juice spiked with cardamom, while you really fantasise about drinking directly from the Zen waterfall at the entrance, which by the way, is completely random.
The good news is that it’s time to leave, and the memory of a really spicy Chettinad gravy can easily erase that of a weird indoor waterfall.
Getting there: Asli Chettinadu, Ground floor, 10, Orchids Centre, 5th A Block, Koramangala, call 7899426699, approximately Rs 1,300 for a meal for two with no drinks.
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