3 years of foraying into 300 home kitchens and over 70 toddy shops, involving extensive research by those who are truly passionate about their regional cuisine, with a resultant 900 painstakingly curated recipes … this is where the story of Kappa Chakka Kandhari takes root from.
The new restaurant in Bangalore that came into being on Dec 18th, 2019, is the brain child of partners Chef Regi Mathew, John Paul and Augustine Kurien and brings to our palates, plates bearing aspects of Kerala’s cuisine sourced from deep inside home kitchens and toddy shops, the likes of which one does not really get to see in fine dine environments.
This is the kind of food that appeals to my heart and hence I gladly accepted the invitation to partake of a carefully curated meal that strove to showcase the various elements of their menu.
So step into the restaurant and discover what Kappa Chakka Kandhari is all about.
About Kappa Chakka Kandhari – tapioca, jackfruit and the special bird’s eye chilli … quintessential ingredients that a typical Kerala kitchen cannot exist without … an apt label for a restaurant that gives its home cooks their due by documenting their recipes and making them available to those who probably had no idea of their existence.
The chef and team’s research of over 3 years, resulted in their discovering that there was so much more to Kerala cuisine than the staples that have been showcased to the world. They hunted down the length and breadth of the state, uncovering gems of recipes from traditional home kitchens and toddy shops.
They opened their first outlet in Chennai where they are thriving successfully for the past 18 months. The ever adventurous Bangalore foodie who constantly hungers for the rare and unusual, has now tempted them to bring their fare to this city and the thronging crowds have pretty much justified their brand new presence.
The ambience is Zen like with no fuss minimalist interiors and the plainness of the walls is interspersed with vignettes of Kerala that are subtly planted to evoke nostalgia by way of paintings in subdued hues, depicting life in the country side as it used to be.
The long wooden tables, reminiscent of toddy shop environs, can seat 90 people in an indoor as well as verandah setting. Another 90 will shortly be accommodated once their first floor is operational, thus hopefully easing the congestion and reducing the long queues of hopefuls that are seen awaiting their turn.
The food –
As mentioned, Chef Regi and team scoured the state’s diverse network, delving deep into its varied pockets and coming up with treasures that hitherto were in the realm of only those who have the good fortune of living with talented and traditional home cooks.
The ingredients are likewise procured from the best of sources, with an added advantage of benefiting women’s and self help groups wherever possible.
The aim is to serve dishes that one would normally not find in a restaurant, so do not hunt for the ubiquitous Kerala parota and such like on the menu but surrender yourself to the novelty of dishes yet untasted. Portion sizes are also deliberately kept small so that diners can sample a greater variety.
Our Meal –
Our meal began most pleasingly with prawns (I cannot imagine a better way to start). The Prawn Kizhi stands for banana leaf pouches filled with prawns smothered with coconut masala. Kizhi meaning pouch, uses a popular cooking method where the leaf and its captive contents are steamed to perfection. Likewise the Koon Kizhi was the vegetarian mushroom variant.
The Mutton Coconut Fry has already established itself as a crowd favorite and as we popped in dainty morsels of cubes of mutton cooked with a proliferation of shredded coconut shavings and spices, we could understand why!!!
This was followed by the ever popular Kozhuva Fry which is a toddy shop favorite with its crunchy deep fried small backwater fish (I was told that they were anchovies), the Kannan Kozhi, a crispy, braised and flash fried free range spring chicken which is a smaller version of its farm grown cousin and the Vazhappoo Cutlet, a crumb fried light and airy patty of banana blossoms and potato, delicately seasoned and crumb fried.
These made up the array of ‘small plates’ or ‘touchings’ as they are called in toddy shops, pronounced Shaaps.
For those who are tickled by trivia (like me), note that they have coded their dishes by serving the toddy shop fare in white saucers and the home cooked food in black.
The entertainer of the day was the Ramassery Idli with Podi and Sambar, a very special variant of the humble idli, that hails from Ramassery, a small village near Palakkad. The number of families making this has now dwindled to a mere 4 and they continue their unique process of steaming this idli in earthenware pots which gives it its special flavor. The process is fascinating and I would have continued watching forever had I not more important matters to attend to. Yes, Eating of course.
The idli is served with a special chutney powder that is made of rice rather than the usual dals.
The Pidi Kozhi Curry is again not a sight that one would see in a commercial restaurant and this home made delicacy consists of rice dumplings cooked and steeped in coconut milk and served with a country-style chicken curry. One could actually mistake these pristine white orbs for rasgullas 😀
KCK consciously stays away from the typical traditional biryanis and instead brings to us the very shapely Puttu Biriyani that gets its cylindrical form from the barrel of the Puttu steamer. Ensconcing a hard boiled egg within, this consists of layers of rice grits and tender morsels of meat (or vegetables in the case of vegetarian).
What is a Kerala meal without fish curry and the Chatti Meen Curry with its gently spiced fish in a coconut gravy is served to us in a chatti (earthen vessel) but of course. The vegetarians need not fret, for the Kadachakka Curry comes to their rescue, with the breadfruit in a delicately spiced gravy … an ingredient that is greatly loved and yet not very easy to come by nowadays.
The beverage menu as expected, also bears traditional drinks like Nannari (sarsaparilla) sharbath, Spiced buttermilk, the Absolute kandhari – secret ingredients spiked with kandhari chilli, Guava temptation and many more. The creamy Pineapple coconut milk was my favorite.
How do Kerala meals end? Well there are the usual pradhamans which are payasams (milk based desserts) of various kinds like the Payaru Payasam with green gram lentils or the Palada with fresh rice flakes cooked with reduced milk.
And while all these are undoubtedly delicious, my day is made when coconut puts in an appearance in the form of the Cloud Pudding … a heavenly puff of tender coconut jelly that takes me right up to the clouds with every bite.
Ice lollies called Kol Ice cream in flavors of Grape Vanilla, Alphonso Mango and Lemon Mint, were a refreshing end to our meal.
438, 18th Main Road, Koramangala 6th Block, Bangalore
Phone – +91 6364671010
Timings – Lunch – 12 pm to 3:30 pm
Dinner – 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm
Open 7 days a week
Average Meal for two – Rs 1500 + taxes
Parking – Valet parking available
Jan 11th, 2020