Friday, March 1, 2013

State Bhavan Canteen Review - Malayali food experience at Kerala House

We were craving to eat Malayali food for sometime and hence decided to check out the canteen at Kerala House at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. The place primarily caters to the staff and guests staying there and attracts a few office goers from the area around. So go at a decent hour else food may run out because they cook limited quantities and do not expect too many people to come. We reached there at about 2.30pm and the man at the counter asked us to wait for a few minutes. On peeping inside we saw there were tables free and checked again with the man at the counter. He informed us that they had run out of rice and fresh coupons would be issued only once they were sure there was enough food!

The vegetarian thali is the standard available at the Kerala House canteen and then one can buy fish curry or fry or chicken curry or fry separately.

Once seated, a waiter brought a bowl of sambhar, a jug of rasam, a jug of sambhaaram (spiced buttermilk), a jug of water and glasses to the table. Slowly the waiter came with plates served with a cabbage thoren (sabzi), achaar (pickle), onion slices and payar mezhukaperati (long beans sabzi). The rice was then served. We had to ask for the papadam and they gave us broken bits and said they ran out of papadams. They also had fish curry and fry and chicken curry and fry, which one can order with the thali for additional money. We ordered the ailaa / bangda (mackerel) fish fry to go with the thali. They served the Kerala red rice and I bit into 2 stones when eating, guess they did not clean the rice in a hurry to cook it! The waiters don't come around so often with second servings so we had to call them over twice.

The verdict - the food was average - keeping aside the fact that I bit into stones and the fish was not salted and spiced enough. The rasam with garlic and the sambharam spiced with ginger was really good. They seemed to have made the payar mezhukuperati fresh after running out of cabbage thoren.
Don't expect the Andhra Bhavan's efficient standards here. It is a small room in the parking space partitioned off with wood. The waiters don't wear a uniform and there are about 7 to 8 tables in all here. There is a lot of old furniture from the guest rooms and a couple of old discarded cars (an Ambassador and a Standard NE) lying about in the parking space and this is right at the entrance!
Overall the Kerala House food was just ok, to be visited only if in the area.
P.S. Thoren in Malayalam is any vegetable cooked with a tadka of mustard seeds, green chilly and curry leaves with grated coconut added in the end. Mezhukuperati is when there is no grated coconut instead coconut oil is sprinkled in the end to the vegetable.

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