Hopping plates: Dakshin has a special menu covering 33 parts of South India for its 33rd anniversary

Expect a wide range of flavours from Karaikudi Kozhi Kozhambu to Kongunadu Elaneer Payasam
Ready to feast?
Ready to feast?

Crowne Plaza’s iconic restaurant Dakshin has a birthday this week. And instead of a cake to celebrate 33, the chefs in the kitchen have in true South Indian style put together a celebration feast for the ages. Themed around the number of years, expect a special celebration menu covering 33 places across the South. For all the travel missed out over the past couple of years, here’s a chance to satiate your wanderlust in one sitting, we discover, as we hop plates from Karaikudi Kozhi Kozhambu to Kongunadu Elaneer Payasam.

<em>Malaikottai karamani vadai</em>
Malaikottai karamani vadai
<em>Kanyakumari murungai keerai melagu nandu</em>
Kanyakumari murungai keerai melagu nandu

Chasing chutney
As is ritual when you settle in at a table at Dakshin, a bevy of chutneys colour your plate, much like paints on an artist’s palette. This is a step that must not be skipped, irrespective of what your meal plans are for the night and we pair them with crunchy vadams and the must-have mini Banana Dosa which is a manner of a ‘sweet’ hello at this restaurant. The menu we are about to dive into took about a month of brainstorming and steady curation, we find out from executive chef Manpreet Singh Malik who worked alongside chef Prakash Varanasi (who served us family heirloom recipes from Telangana and Andhra on our last visit).

<em>Guntur avakaya kodi</em>
Guntur avakaya kodi

Poetry with pickle
This time around, we find ourselves on a very different flavourscape. We flit from Fried Lentil Fritters from Godavari (AP), coarse and crisp, to Crab meat prepared Kanyakumari-style, tossed with green chillies, drumstick leaves and a punch of black pepper. But the appetiser that we find ourselves asking for seconds of, (even after dessert!) turns out to be the Guntur Avakaya Kodi. Spicy, succulent chunks of chicken pan tossed in a familiar and much-loved mango pickle. Simple, yes. But this platter hit the spot, drawing out that tantalizing tang without being overly pungent either, in a manner that might mandate chasing a waiter down for a desperate gulp of buttermilk.

Nay, this plate is perfectly balanced. Our main course is heady on the aromas and heavier on the stomach. A creamy pot of delicately flavoured Alappuzha Meen Curry prepped with raw mangoes pairs with appams. There is also a bright pink Palakad Cheera Kari (spinach cooked with coconut and tempered with mustard). And to finish, a Virudhunagar Kaima Choru arrives. This is an intriguing fried rice of sorts with egg, minced lamb and fried cashew nuts. We finish with signature desserts that are equal parts sweet and decadent: Arcot Badam Halwa and the aforementioned Kongunadu Elaneer Payasam. Slurp, slurp!

Meal for two INR 3,400. On till the end of April.

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