Chennai-based Karaikudi restaurant opens the first outlet in Kochi
First thing I want to do after walking into Karaikudi restaurant on Seaport-Airport road is dance. A peppy koothu song and the waiters, dressed in dhoti pants, looking like dancers offer the perfect welcome to indulge in some Chettinadu-style delicacies.
“The region is known for its extensive festivals and the food has a community character to it,” says manager Clement Sudhakar, as the fragrance of meat being cooked in rich masalas wafts into the 65-cover space. The menu of this three-month-old property at Thrikkakara can trigger your indecisiveness with its varieties of names such as mutton elumbu curry and saiva kuruma.
As Clement fills me in on folk traditions like poikkal kuthirai attam (photos of which adorn their walls) and the history of their 30-year-old Chennai-based brand, dishes start arriving at my table.
The marinades thick with a mix of spices is not overbearing, I notice as I try the chicken pakoda. “We don’t use packaged masalas but grind everything fresh in our kitchen. Our employees hail from Karaikudi itself and know how to achieve the authentic taste,” says Clement.
Each dish also has distinct flavour profiles with the mutton sukka fry having an enticing blend of dried red chilli and garlic, and the prawn masala sporting rather-rare green chilli notes. “We don’t use colours or additives and that one is just Kashmiri red chilli,” as we try a vanjaram meen varuthathu (seer fish with a crispy red masala coating).
Though Chettinadu fare is renowned for the non-vegetarian options, this eatery also offers relief to vegetarian diners with dishes including a tangy and rich nei kathrikai. Before you let out the ‘winding-up burp’, do remember to try some sweet payasam.
Open from 12-3.30 pm and 7-11.30 pm.