“Karavalli has been around in Bangalore for the last 23 years with 80% of the menu remaining the same from the times the restaurant started”says Executive Chef Naren Thimmaiah. He has every reason to be proud. Any restaurant staying around a city’s food scene for so long speaks volumes about its good food and service.
Some of us were invited to sample the new additions to the Karavalli menu. The new menu aims to cover a few more regions along the West coast of India, which weren’t represented adequately in their menu earlier.
They’ve also added an outdoors grilling section where there’s a variety of fresh fish seafood along with a selection of marinades which you can choose from, making it a seafood lover’s delight.
There’s a slight modification to the lunch menu too, the number of dishes have been reduced to the regularly ordered popular ones and there’s a typical South Indian lunch box ‘set’ in which lunch is served.
Captivating colours of the chutneys
The evening started with some of the bloggers getting behind the burners under the chef’s guidance and grilling the marinated fish two ways, one of them being the black pomfret grilled in banana leaf pockets.
I love this technique of grilling food wrapped in banana leaves. It makes sure the food doesn’t get over grilled, and the leaves impart a delicate flavour to the food wrapped in it.
The vegetarians were served three kinds of starters. The Kaju Kothimbir Vadi (cashew and coriander seeds dipped in batter and deep fried until crunchy and golden) was seriously addictive. My favourite was the Pachakai Varuthathu (Plantain slices coated in spices and deep fried).
It was seasoned just right and when paired with the three chutneys on the table, it tasted even better. The other dish was Oggaraneda Aritha Pundi, which I’m told is a Tulu community specialty.
This tongue twister of a name is nothing but steamed rice dumplings tossed with a tempering of cumin, mustard seeds and spiced with curry powder and topped with coconut. We usually make these with the left overs of the rice dough used to make ‘kozhakattai’ or modaks.
Personally, I prefer the Tambrahm version better, plus this is more of a tiffin item than a starter
The mains were dedicated to wood fired dishes cooked in clay pots. There was a spicy seerfish curry and a South Canara lamb curry. Us vegetarians had a Kadala Gassi, which is the black chana cooked in South Canara style, where the gravy is made from roasted spices and coconut.
My favourite here was the ‘Havyaka’ style Preserved Mango Curry, this was similar to the Mango Moar Kozhambu we make, but using preserved mango instead of fresh. [Read more about Havyaka cuisine here] I prefer the fresh mangoes in this preparation, but the curry flavours were really mouthwatering.
The curries were served with a choice of Malabar Paratha, Aapam, Idiappam or Kuttanad Boiled rice, which is the red rice from Kerala.
The desserts were a unique mix of flavours, perfectly paired with each other. The sharp, tanginess of the tamarind ice cream, to the rich yolky – nutmeg intense taste of the Bebinca and the burst of sweetness from the jaggery of the Ada Pradhaman. The tamarind ice cream is the chef’s own creation.
After tasting the black sesame ice cream in Hong Kong, the wasabi ice cream at a local Asian restaurant, it was lovely to try out an ice cream made using a very Indian ingredient like Tamarind. The bebinca is a multi-layered ‘cake’ made in Goa and Ada Pradhaman, of course is a Kerala sweet-dish made for all festive occasions.
It was a lovely evening, sitting outdoors, aromas of food wafting around us and sated with some good food and conversations. Chef Thimmaiah was a pleasure to interact with and discuss all things food with us foodbloggers.
The only thing missing was a warm shawl around my shoulders as the even turned really chilly.
The outdoor section, softly lit is quite perfect for a romantic evening. Even better if you are a seafood lover.
66, Ground floor, The Gateway Hotel, Residency Road
[Pictures courtesy: Saina Jayapal – Pixel Platters]
(c) Nandita Iyer 2006-2015