Tamarind carries on the legacy of late Chef Jacob
As we walk up the stairs of Chef Jacob’s restaurant Jakob’s Kitchen, which has now been rechristened Tamarind, a few memories flash in front of my eyes. Numerous family dinners, friends’ get-togethers and ‘treats’ of mine happened beneath this roof before the previous management pulled the plug in October last year. Fortunately, Col D Pradeep Kumar took over the reins and the restaurant was back up and running after being shut for merely a month. As the flashback swirled to a stop, when I reached the first floor, a part of me hoped that they had retained their previous menu. Before that thought disappeared at the back of my head, the stove at the entrance made it evident with a portion of freshly made Chicken Karandi that not much has changed.
“We’ve retained the dishes and the staff, as well as the caretaker-cum-chef of Jacob for 16 years who has her own specialties,” explains Pradeep, who served in the army from 1977 to 2007 and even served as an anti-terrorist specialist for three years in the early-90s. Post-retirement, he became the Executive Director of Star City service apartments where he also managed restaurants and banquet halls and that’s where he developed a passion towards food and planned on becoming a restaurateur. Fortunately, he didn’t have to go far for a trusted partner as his wife Beena P Kumar, a doctor by profession, had also managed their restaurant Chicken and Rice, from 2005 to 2008 in Spencer Plaza. “Though I didn’t know Chef Jacob personally, I own the Ananta Thai Spa which is below the restaurant. Being a foodie and someone with a banquet background, I was attracted to the food industry. Jacob was a visionary who dedicated his entire life to the culinary arts, so there couldn’t be a better place to start and that’s how we started Tamarind in order to carry on his legacy,” adds Pradeep who continues to buy masalas from a vendor in Erode who worked as a chef with Jacob.
Pradeep, who loved the original menu and wanted to retain it, even tracked down the restaurant’s previous employees to make sure the taste and quality matched to that of the authentic cuisines they serve here. As the dishes started coming in, we got to taste their boneless Mutton Chukka which they vow is as close as one can find to the authentic version made in Madurai. The tender and juicy chunks of the meat left us wanting more as the plate got emptied in no time. Meen Chinthamani — a prized dish from Colachel, Kanyakumari, are fish dumplings that are light and come with a melt-in-mouth consistency. The Jawahar Jaloor Parotta, a returning fan favourite, with the mutton kheema filling, is found nowhere else in town. As we devoured the local delicacies, Pradeep also pointed out that more new dishes are to be added to the menu to give it a pan-Tamil Nadu and Kerala feel.
Specialising in Chettinad, Kongunad, Nanjilnad and a bit of Kerala and Andhra cuisine, Tamarind offers a variety of biryani too. The Mutton Biryani, served in a clay pot, despite going easy on the spices, hits it high on the taste meter. The Meen Saapadu is a fish lover’s delight. Served with pan-fried sardines and deep-fried anchovies, the star of this meal is the fish curry which is an ode to the restaurant’s identity. Their specialty, which is available only for weekend lunches, is their Keda Virundhu. And true to the name, it’s a feast. Not one for the faint-hearted, this meal consists of mutton gravy with a huge leg piece, two pieces of ribs in a curry paste, mutton thokku, sura puttu and a portion of kheema biryani apart from the usual white rice, curd and rasam.
As we wrap up with their delicious Elaneer Payasam, Pradeep lets on that there is a new branch expected to open in Adyar by the end of the year.
Meal for two is priced at Rs 800. Details: 33011693