Maplai’s biryani heads to ECR
With ECR emerging as a foodie’s hub, it was only a matter of time before Maplai opened its doors there, according to Chef Koushik aka The Mad Chef. Sure enough, the restaurant launched last week to a packed house, with patrons thronging the venue to get a taste of their favourite South Indian dishes. As we step into the spacious lobby, we’re greeted by the watchful eyes of a majestic tiger painted on the wall at the entrance, which makes for a great selfie spot.
Tigers are the running theme here, we discover, as we step into the swank 60-cover restaurant. The wall décor primarily features art of puliyattam, an ancient dance form of South India, representative of the cultural heritage here, says the chef, who goes on to introduce our waiter, nicknamed Puli.
“We encourage all our staff to use pseudonyms, and most of them choose names of popular Tamil films,” Chef says, as Puli (who refuses to divulge his real name) adds that he is a hardcore Vijay fan. For those interested, the manager’s nickname is Nayagan!
“The new menu here is more comprehensive and features dishes from all four south Indian states,” beginsthe chef, as we are served with portions of vegetarian, chicken and prawn kondattam. The batter-fried treats are served with a sweet chilli dip and retain the crispy texture even after being left out for a good 10 minutes. Quite ambitiously, we decide to order dishes from each of the four states.
First up is Maplai’s vegetarian take on the classic karimeen polichathu, the paneer polichathu — soft paneer in rich, spicy masala cooked in a banana leaf. We follow it up with a dish from Karnataka, kozhi ka thakkali, boneless chicken strips in a sweet Coorgi sauce, a tasty, tangy mix of tomato tossed in chicken.
Living up to its name is the super spicy Andhra chicken, fragrant with the smell of green chilli and fiery on the palate. Not for the weak-stomached, this. Those who love the chips-and-dips combo absolutely have to try the complimentary vadams served with a mildly-spiced karuveppilai (curry leaf) mayo – a great starter just by itself.
Apart from the veg and non-veg meals for lunch and dinner, Maplai’s Virundhu boasting over 50 dishes (`799, unlimited) comes highly recommended. We opt instead for their famous Madurai mutton biryani made of fragrant seeraga samba rice, falling-off-the-bone mutton, and perfectly spiced served with brinjal salna and raita.
A clear win over their chicken biryani (made of basmati rice). Biryani fans can also sample Thalassery biryani (veg, chicken, mutton and prawn) and Ambur chicken biryani, available on the new menu. We end our meal on a sweet note, with a sample of karupattimisu, a twist on tiramisu — a soft mousse garnished with not too sweet palm sugar.