That Mallu Joint serves up a 'meen' feast and we can't wait to go back for more!
You might want to schedule lunch for noon, because by 2 pm on a Sunday — you might only be left with sweet dreams of that sadya you were hoping for. That Mallu Joint in T Nagar is the second restaurant serving Kerala cuisine that has opened in the city in the recent past, that is a crowd-puller — the other being Chef Regi Mathew’s Kappa Chakka Kandhari on Haddows Road (opened last year).
Kozhi & kathakali
In contrast to the latter, the only thing traditional about this place is what’s on the menu. We love the pop of colour with the Kathakali mask artwork against a brick wall, the wooden beams on the ceiling and the woven bamboo lampshades above each table. There’s even a bar counter-style eating section that makes for a nice lounge touch and community-style dining for a big gang stepping in.
So when we hear that co-owner Ashwin Ninan is from an interiors background and his brother is an architect, it all comes together. Funny story, Ninan incidentally was introduced to partner Roshina Tharakan (who previously worked with the Jonah’s brand) over a dental check-up. “I mentioned that I had an idea for a restaurant to my dentist Mark Thomas (now Thakaran’s husband) and he immediately suggested I have a chat with Roshina.” The pair would go on to brainstorm back and forth for two years before they finally decided to ‘just do it’.
We like the fact that their menu is minimal, yet has staples from all over the state. “It isn’t often that you get the option of opting for a Malabar kozhi curry and Thalassery biryani in the same place. And this was a conscious thought we kept in mind during our food trials,” Ashwin shares with us.
Yeh dil manga more...
Once settled into our seats, our dishes arrive in quick succession, spread across the table into a massive feast. There is the Meen Manga Curry which we’re told is the hottest seller here, and with good reason. Light, tangy and with a hint of coconut milk, it hits a sweet spot on the palate that makes you go back over and over again. Honestly, give us steamed rice and this curry — and our day is made right there!
But of course, we go on to sample fluffy egg appams paired with a peppery Lamb chaaps gravy. The appams are just a tad sweet, courtesy a dash of coconut milk. There is also the rich, ghee-laden Thalassery biryani, a delicious Karimeen (sourced from the backwaters of Kumarakom) fry and an unexpected favourite — the Kandhari Paneer. The secret to latter, Ashwin shares is, “The paneer is dipped in a mixture of coconut milk and kandhari spices, and simmered in coconut oil.”
Hot and cold
If you ever thought, ‘why go to Kerala restaurant and order paneer?’ — this is the reason. Sadly, the much-awaited Beef Ularthiyathu is a bit on the tough side. But this is quickly redeemed by dessert: a warm dal payasam in one bowl and a cold scoop of tender coconut ice cream in another. “We worked with our vendor specifically on this to get a bit of coconut in every spoonful,” says Roshina, and true to her word, that is exactly what we get. We’re definitely going to come back for their Jackfruit ice cream on our next visit. Hopefully by then, new dishes in the pipeline — like Pazham Pori (banana fritters) and Crab Roast will also be ready to taste.
Meal for two Rs 600.
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