This section features the places I visited and found the food to be phenomenal and uber delicious.Sharing my experiences with you so that if ever you prefer to visit these places you know where to go and what to look for!
THE DAKSHIN RESTAURANT – ITC MARATHA
I admit I am posting this a bit late but not so late for the supreme service it offers!The ITC Maratha is one of the best 5 Star Hotels in Mumbai also known for its wonderful restaurants.These Restaurants are 7 in number and by far provide uber delicious, hygienic and healthy food options.
7th of September was Onam – the main festival of Kerala and a trip was made to Dakshin – one of the prominent Restaurants of the Hotel which deals in exclusive South Indian Cuisine to have the Onam Sadhya or a combination of dishes representing a festive feast.
The Hotel in itself is quite imposing with rooms that are spaciously and luxuriously furnished!As we go inside,we are accosted by gracious and pleasant Hotel Staff through great halls impeccably furnished with rustic and royal pieces of art including metal chests at each corner which makes you wonder what treasure trove does that contain!
At last in a quiet corner located in the ground floor itself we come to our destination.The sign reads Dakshin – The Celebrated tastes of Southern India.
The welcome was very inviting as they had kept the traditional Kerala lamp or what we call “kutti vilakku” lit with a kalash(a kind of big pot used for the purpose) of flowers and elaborate floor designs.
The kutti vilakku with the Kalash..a beautiful welcome!
We were accosted to our table and waited for the servers.In the meantime we noticed that the ambiance was very soothing to the eyes and they had minimal lighting but enough to see clearly thus setting an aura of serenity around us.There was typical Kerala devotional music to add to the festivity of the day!
The Restaurant Ambiance…
Finally the server got us our Thali or a big plate capable of accommodating small tureens or Katori.The plates were layered with a Banana Leaf cut out perfectly to fit inside.He first ladled 3 dishes to be used as sides – Puliinji(tamarind and ginger combined to make a perfect Chutney),Inji Thayir(ginger ground with Yogurt and Coconut into a thick paste) and Pineapple Pachadi(Pineapple chopped into small chunks combined with thick Yogurt and grated Coconut).A taste of these sides made us realize how tasty they were and that the preparation was done to precision.
Next they got the main course.For curries there were Avial(vegetables simmered in Yogurt and coconut),Olan(gourd and beans simmered in Coconut Milk),Kalan(Yam cooked in Yogurt) and Ulli Theeyal(Madras Onions simmered in a Tamarind gravy).There was Thoran which was a dish of Kerala style sauteed vegetables – Beans and Carrots in Coconut Oil and mixed with grated Coconut.This lovely combination was to be had with Kerala Red Rice – a rice unique to the region and a ladleful of mixed vegetable Sambar was drizzled over the Rice.This lovely combination was accompanied by assorted crispy fried papads and crisps made with rice and lentils and fried dried vegetables also used in Kerala as accompaniments.
The Sadhya Thali…
There was also a mini pot of Kerala Banana Chips – both salted and sweet and Jackfruit Chips.
The servers made sure that we were not short of anything and kept on serving large portions.When we were completely full we allowed the Thalis to be taken away and the Servers bought the next course – the dessert.This was delicately prepared Ada Prathaman and Pal Payasam.Here is a note on the two of them:
ADA PRATHAMAN – Ada is a kind of Rice Chips which are made in Kerala.Rice is pounded,ground,cooked in water and left to
dry on Banana Leaves after flattening the mixture.The chips are broken up into small pieces and used in desserts.This dessert exclusively uses Coconut Milk and Jaggery and is very delicious!
PAL PAYASAM – This is the common Rice Kheer which is made in various parts of India.Combining Milk and Rice into a creamy consistency,its one of the favorite desserts in India.
After we finished with the desserts we were given Paan – betel leaf filled with select ingredients for freshening the mouth.
The Onam Sadhya was so delicious that it kept me wondering when would I make a visit again to taste the other dishes!Many other people had come to taste the Sadhya and all seemed happy with the preparations.
Overall it was a wonderful experience and as a personal opinion I recommend this restaurant to everyone who loves South Indian and who is interested to get the authentic taste of the South.