Much beyond sambar
Pune has finally got an authentic South Indian restaurant in the form of Zambar at Magarpatta, which offers diverse cuisines from down south
As the menu says, Zambar offers more than just sambar. Their range of offerings includes spicy cuisines from across the southern hemisphere.
Their ambiance replete with cane lamps that remind you of Kerala’s little boats and a house-boat creation with tables, tries to bring the coast into the mall. They manage successfully, judging by the couple we spotted happily posing for photographs and children peeping out of the boat’s windows.
Zambar’s menu includes spicy Chettinad food from Tamil Nadu, fiery Andhra cuisine, food from Mangalore and Coorg in Karnataka, Kerala’s coastal delights and even Syrian Christian and Muslim fare from God’s own country. The boat ride begins with platters of hot Kerala papads. Then come shot glasses of their signature rasam topped with foam. The lukewarm, pepper-spiced and taste-tingling concoction appealed to us.
Our Mushroom Peralan (Rs 250 plus taxes), is a Syrian Christian specialty that came in a bowl in a quantity sufficient for two. The mushroom was chunky and the tangy, thick gravy went perfectly with our Malabar Parotha (Rs 65 plus taxes).
Next up, we opted for a Seafood Thali (Rs 575 plus taxes). First there was the Kerala Fish Fry which wasn’t fried fish at all. It was lightly sautéed in a bed of spices and was succulent. A great start. We moved on to the green beans and carrot thoran which was again, a superior dry vegetable preparation from Kerala with a coconut base.
Now, it was time for the fish attack. The crab had a soft-shell and was dunked in a spicy Mangalorean gravy. We polished the gravy with their tasty appam. It was finger-licking good.
The Chettinad Fish Curry had chunks of fish in a tangy, tamarind-based curry that left us in a delirium of delight.
The Andhra Prawn Curry was loaded with prawns (with a bit of the crunch of their heads — just the way we like it). This dish had a cardamom and dry spice rich gravy that we almost wished to order seconds for.
Finally, we downed it all with spoonfuls of sambar and rasam with Kerala rice. We spared a bit of space in our stomach for the curd-rice combination to cool down the fire in the belly.
The Thali came with two small portions of sweets — it consisted of two types of payasam (one based in milk and the other in coconut) and both were mouthfuls of creaminess after the high-fragrance, flavour-rich meal. This was one loaded and soul-satisfying meal.
So good was Zambar that we know we will definitely be back soon for more.
P.S. This review has been written by someone who isn’t really a lover of Indian food. Just to let you know, that Zambar really offered authentic, delicious fare.
At Phoenix Market City, Viman Nagar and Amanora Town Centre, Magarpatta.
Call 66890606 / 66890607