Gajar halwa samosas paired with cotton candy. Wait, what?
Chennai’s vegetarian food scene is as exciting as ever, with many restaurants serving inventive, fusion dishes. But the soon-to-be launched Stuffles wants to keep its dishes as authentic as possible.
As we drive down the road from the famous Ega Theatre, a bright yellow wall makes it easy to spot the restaurant. Started by two brothers, Pranoy Bothra (26) and Akshay Bothra (29), it specialises in Indian and Italian fare but they also serve café staples. “We’re passionate about food... that’s why Stuffles,” says Pranoy. From the brick-lined wood-fired oven comes the pizzas and from their tandoor comes plates of paneer; they also serve burgers and crunchy nachos.
First we try a dish similar to the nachos, the khakra. The savoury snack was dressed with generous toppings of paneer burji, tomatoes, raw and caramelised onions, and right in the middle was a dollop of what looked like guacamole. It turns out that it’s a chutney made from pointed gourd and mint, its fresh and balances out the spicy sauces on the khakra. “We use this pointed gourd quite often at home,” says Pranoy, a finance professional who has ventured into the food business for the first time. “We wanted it to be vegetarian because we don’t eat meat,” he says. The 40-seater restaurant also serves Jain-friendly dishes.
They’ve now placed the wood in the oven and fired it up. As the smoke drifts out of the oven, we taste their cream of spinach soup, which would have worked better had the flavour of the palak been more prominent. We get a taste of their Italian dishes with the Pasta Arrabiata. It’s tangy, and a chunk of tomato bursts in our mouths; I would go back to the restaurant just for this dish. “The tomatoes were oven roasted and then mashed into a sauce. This is how it’s made in Italy,” says Yeshwin Mathew of the Grub Food Company, and the consultant for Stuffles. “I went to a house in Rome where they taught us to make pasta. The tomatoes should not be blitzed into a smooth puree. And we shouldn’t add too many sauces. The hero must be the tomato.”
There’s also another Italian hero, the Margherita pizza with buffalo mozzarella cheese and an in-house tomato sauce, it is simple but wins. The dessert is a celebration of an Indian classic — gajar halwa. Samosas are stuffed with the halwa, deep fried, dipped in sugar syrup and topped with sliced pistachios. On the side is cotton candy. As it melts in the mouth, we realise that its rose flavoured; the fluffy pink candy could even be a dessert on its own.
Meal for two is Rs 650.
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