Monday, July 1, 2013
All right. This one is about Malabar at Crows Nest. My best friend departing for Perth ans myself get invited by another of my close friends to his place for a catch up. He stays in St Leonards. Its a cold day and we settle into his couch and start talking and pretty soon I am narrating incidents about my India trip this year in May and how I am nearly molested but innocent people on the train and the heat. Anyways, we are then talking about where to go for dinner. Options vary from the nearby Nilgiri's to a host of restaurants at Crows Nest, an srea nearby. We walk down and it is a 5-10 minutes walk. We purposefully avoid the Pacific Highway and take the bye lanes of St Leonards and Crows Nest till we hit the market on the Willoughby Road. There are many memories that I have with St Leonards and this area. Many years ago I havr stayed in this area and later with a certain friend there have been many crazy nights. Anyways so as we head on the Willoughby street and there are lines of eateries and restaurants. We then head onto Pacific Highway and then onto Malabar. As we enter we are promptly seated. The interiors are a bit stereotyped but cozy. Dim lighting, big posters of the Mysore procession and the elephant and at the counter there is a little bar with a stacks of bottle. We get going and order. There are four of us. Two Dosa's- one masala and one of another variant. One uttapam. When It comes to me, I love people who eat vegetarian but then I cant be that person else I cant love myself. Besides it was a Thursday. Coming to Chettinaad cuisine, I was quite tempted and eager to have it after many years. I recall a few in the past- The Royal Dakshin in Delhi at Jamali Kamali in the big park near Qutab Minar, and then Anjappar and Korai Kudi at Chennai.
Well the thought of all these institutions aggravates my senses and makes me drool at the thought of the Chettinaad cuisine I have had so far. The spicy fried chicken, kotthu paranthas and the chicken Chettinaad.
Usually we as Indians think majorly of south Indian food as dosa samabhar idly utthapams etc. These however are just stereotyped image of south Indian food, just like butter chicken and tandoori chicken and chaats is to north Indian food. Often dosa's idly's etc are also referred to as tiffin in southern India. But like any cuisines southern Indian cuisines has many variants based on region and Chettinaad being one of them.
Eventually I rose above the occasion and ended up ordering the chicken chettinaad and the malabar parantha.
I think the restaurant staff could feel the rise in positive energy and could recognize a true foodie had arrived. It was that moment when Neo is christened as the One in Matrix. And to celebrate this moment the first dish they serve is the Chicken Chettinaad and the Malabar Parantha. Now it is purely coincidental that although chicken takes more time to cook than dosa and the chances are that I was served something already cooked before, but purely coincidental again. And I wouldn't criticize the great camaraderie and noble character shown by the staff there to recognize me out of all the patrons.
Coming to the food. Dosas- crisp and awesome. One of the best dosas in Sydney. For those of you who don't know what a Dosa, it is made out of rice flour and a thin paper crisp cylinder with a stuffing of potato, or cottage cheese or sometime with no filling. It is usually accompanied with a few chutneys and hot piping vegetables and lentil soup called the sambhar. So dosa's were perfect. Erstwhile Malabar, I liked dosa's at NIlgiris and a few other Sri Lankan joints. But this was clearly the best. Also I was quite amused thinking the fact that the menu had regular and large size and the regular size in itself was so big, I dare not think how big the large dosa would be.
The uttapam my friend had was topped with onions and tomatoes. I think it was quite descent as well. I am personally not a too big fan of the uttapams but I did taste it was good. My friend was quite full and took some effort to finish it off.
Now coming to the chicken chettinaad and the malabar paranthas. The malabar paranthas are simple paranthas with layers in it. Multiple layers of dough bakes to become like a flaky pastry kind of a bread with oil. The paranthas were good. The chicken chettinaad was awesome. Not too spicy, thick curry with a strong coconut flavour and south indian style of cooking with their spices. the portion served in a copper karahi looked small initially but to tell you the truth it is sufficient for 2 people. I hsd to do a take away as I could finish the entire dish. I guess the chicken chettinaad made me over come the pang of south indian chicken.
Price wise the meals are descently priced. An avergae meal for two could be from $25 -$50. All in all a good place and I would definitely visit and recommend to others as well.
334 Pacific Highway
T: (02) 9906 7343
(02) 9438 4207 (Take away only)
F: (02) 9332 3745
Lunch: Sunday - Friday 12.00 - 14.30
Dinner: Monday - Sunday 17.30 until late