Popular Chennai-based restaurant known for its unique Kerala cuisine, Kappa Chakka Kandhari, launches in Bengaluru
Appam, stew, avial and fish curry are a few dishes that are synonymous with Kerala cuisine. But forcing us to rethink that opinion is the trio comprising chef Regi Mathew, engineer John Paul, and event manager Augustine Kurian with their restaurant Kappa Chakka Kandhari. Their second outlet in the country (the first is in Chennai), the menu focuses on lesser known delicacies from the state. “One day, the three of us met for tea and we started talking about our favourite childhood snacks like Pazham Pori (banana fritters) and Sukhiyan (deep fried sweet or savoury dumplings), and how nice it would be to make them popular again. That’s how the idea was born and it extended to other unique dishes from Kerala that fly under the radar,” reveals chef Regi, adding that they collected over 800 recipes from home cooks, including their mothers, aunts and mothers’ friends. This number was pared to 90 to create the menu for Kappa (tapioca) Chakka (jackfruit) Kandhari (bird eye chili), named after the three ingredients that are central to the cuisine.
Minimalistic, bright and airy, the restaurant, places the spotlight on the food. Our tasting started with a lemon Goli Soda, which was refreshing, and an array of starters or ‘Touchings’ as they call it. They included Koorkka Ular-thiyathu (roasted Chinese potatoes, which grows only in central Kerala, flavoured with pepper and other mild spices), Ayikkora Nellikka Masala Fry (a tribal dish from Agasthyamalai which is seer fish grilled with a marination of sun-dried gooseberry, peppercorn and bird’s eye chilli), Prawn Kizhi (prawns cooked with coconut masala, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed) and Idierachi (sundried tenderloin crushed and tossed with shallots and curry leaves). While all dishes were exquisite, our favourite was the seer fish fry with its complex blend of flavours and spices.
We followed this up with something lighter for mains — servings of Pidi (rice dumplings cooked with coconut milk), which was served with Ramapuram Chicken Curry (a country-style chicken curry inspired by a dish the chef tasted at a church festival in Ramapuram), and Ramassery Idli accompanied with Kerala sambar.
The idlis are made in a unique steaming apparatus comprising earthen pots, muslin cloth and netted rings. An ancient recipe from Ramassery, this is today made only by one family in the region. Light, fluffy and larger than a regular idli, it was perfect with the aromatic sambar. The best way to end any meal here is with their Cloud Pudding (tender coconut pudding) or Kandhari Ice Cream (ice cream flavoured with bird eye chilli). The former was almost like eating the flesh of a freshly broken tender coconut, while the latter was creamy and sweet, with the flavour of the bird eye chilli hitting us at the back of our throat.
By focussing on a cross section of cuisines from the region, the restaurant offers a true taste of Kerala.
Rs.1,500++ for two. At Koramangala