Half a kick of Southern spice
The heavy on spice non-vegetarian eats at Versova's delivery-only cloud kitchen serving Malayali and Tamilian food are promising. But can we expect an improvement in the insipid avial?
Living in Chembur for the last eight months has been akin to living in South Indian cuisine heaven, given the plethora of options for fluffy appams, comforting stews, and spicy biryani. So when I hear a Malayali and Tamil cloud kitchen had opened in Versova that was willing to deliver, I could hardly wait.
But I had to, for when I called the eatery for delivery on a Tuesday, we were informed that it can only happen the next day due to a dearth of delivery boys. I placed the order and was informed about each step via text even as the food took an hour to arrive, by when it was cold.
Coorgi chicken curry
The inviting aroma of the chicken varuval (Rs 260), which I uncovered first (the curry boxes are difficult open) made me take a bite of the dry, starter variant of the Tamil curry. It was spicy, brimming with curry patta and worked well with the malabar parotta (Rs 110), which — though thick and not as flaky as it should be — helped cut the spice. Next up, I tried the avial (Rs 200) and vegetable stew (Rs 210), which looked exactly the same because the avial was too watery, unlike any version of the dish I had before. Yes, there was a curry version served during my last trip to Bekal in Kerala, but it was thick and the veggies crunchy, unlike this weak Versova counterpart.
Karnataka nati pulao
Disappointed, I tried the mutton sambhar (Rs 330), which was more like a mutton gravy without the richness usually associated with a gravy mutton dish. It was more like a rasam than sambhar, thanks to the lack of imli, my South Indian partner who swears by his sambhar told me when I took remnants back home. But the Bangalorean in him did dig the Karnataka nati pulao (Rs 280), a minty mutton pulao that’s a staple in most Malayali homes, he said. The mutton was soft and melted in your mouth, and it went well with the subtle raita. The egg appam (Rs 130) was tough and the egg was wobbly as opposed to runny. So, we tried the soft neer dosa (Rs 130) with the Coorgi chicken curry (Rs 270), both clear winners. The curry was a tad insipid, but retained a generous dose of the spices.
The kesari is a dessert I’ve been hankering after for a month, but hadn’t been able to get my hands on. The mango kesari (Rs 99) failed to satiate my craving — it was hard and didn’t soften even after some water was sprinkled on it and heated. “Where’s the mango?” was my colleague’s question when she took a hesitant bite. Wondering about the same, I turned back to the chicken curry and dosa.
I’ll order the mutton preparations and chicken curries again. But here’s a fair warning: the food may be a tad too hot for someone who’s not a spice junkie like me.
Southies from the mid-day newsroom give their verdict
"The vegetable stew lacks coconut, so it doesn’t really taste like it’s supposed to. The avial doesn’t have enough veggies."
Letty Mariam Abraham
"The chicken varuval was marinated well and the dish works with the parotta. The mutton in the pulao is invitingly soft."
"The pulao is a bit hotter than expected but works because the flavours are right. The appam is fluffy, but not overtly so."
"The stew isn’t creamy like it’s supposed to be. It doesn’t have a coconut milk base. The avial had drumsticks that had gone bad."
AT Madrasam, shop 2, Juhu Versova Link Road, Andheri West.
Time 11.30 am to 3.30 pm, 7 pm to 1 am
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