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Saturday 7 March 2020

KCK - To The Roots and Back

Malyali Food, Idli, Kerala
The food of a region not only reflects the local produce, but also the influence of cultures and dynasties that have ruled the place, to innovations of migrants who moved here. Kerala is no exception, and the food from this region is so diverse, it would take several blog articles just to go over their food history! To give some context, here are a few ‘Kerala’ dishes that capture the essence of what I mean:

Kerala Sadhya – An epic feast of vegetarian food and the universal symbol of the food of Kerala, their origins lie with the Namboodhari Brahmins, who associate their immigration from Tamil Nadu with the divine creation of Kerala by Parasurama, hence the name, ’God’s Own Country’.

Beef Ularthiyathu- A slow-roast beef dish made with pepper and curry leaves, this is a dish popularized by the Syrian Christian community.

Alisa/Harees – An Arab origin dish of Broken Wheat and Meat, this dish was brought here by the Mapilla Muslim community
Prawn in Banana Leaf

Kallu Shappu Meen Curry – Toddy or Date Palm Wine or Kallu is a mild, slightly sweet alcoholic beverage, that goes really well with extremely spicy food, sold in Kallu Shops. The Kallu Shappu Fish Curry and Beef fry are legendary Toddy Shop 'Touchings' that are not to be missed when in Kerala.

This is but information relevant when reviewing a place like Kappa Chakka Kandhari (KCK), where not just recipes and ingredients, but also local and home chefs who have been brought in from various parts to Kerala to recreate the magic in Bangalore using traditional methods. Ah Nostalgia! That is the beginning of so many great things; art, architecture and of course, food! Chef Regi Mathew, veteran chef and co-owner at KCK went back to his roots to get recipes that he his mother made for him when he was younger. That was the start of a mammoth journey spread over 3 years where the owners visited over 250 homes and 70 toddy shops, tasting, collecting and mastering recipes and techniques.

Squid Rings, CalamariBy the by, KCK is named after these ingredients, Kappa – Tapioca, Chakka – Jackfruit, Kandhari - Bird’s eye Chilli, which quite brilliantly summarizes the diversity of Malayali Cuisine in three words. That being said, let’s have a look at some of the dishes I had here:

Koonthal Roast: Very much a toddy-shop favorite, these are deep-fried calamari rings with Bird’s Eye Chilli. They very much hit the spot! Like fellow blogger and Keralite Abhilash Mithren (GulpnMunch) jokingly said, this is our version of the Ghee Roast.
Seer Fish, Peppercorn MAsala
Ayikoora Nellika Masala: Seafood is as much a part of Kerala food as coconut and bananas. The inspiration of this dish is from the fisherman who roast fresh catch on the salty shore rocks, with nothing much but pepper and salt. This was a grilled seer fish which had this lovely sour aftertase from the sundried gooseberries and a hit of spice with young peppercorns and chilli.
Beef Cutlet, Cutlet, Syrian Food in Kerala
Irachi Cutlet: Another favorite from the menu, these cutlets are a Syrian lunch specialty and are made with braised and shredded tenderloin chunks coated with egg and no breadcrumbs, which really brings out the taste of the meat. If you are a beef fan, this is priority number one!

Ramassery Idly, Idli, Kerala FoodRamassery Idli : These are nearly flat, similar to a dosa in shape and only about half an inch thick, but the tastiest idlis I have had. The secret to making these delightful idlis lies in the 3-tiered unglazed earthen clay pot structure with the mesh in which these are made. The origin of these idlis can be traced to the Mudaliar community of weavers who migrated from Tamil Nadu and settled down in Ramassery, a village 12 kms from Palakkad, Kerala

Puttu and Kadala CurryPuttu draws its name from the Sanskrit Pishta’ – which means jutting out, referring to the cylinder-like vessel in which it is made. This is generally a combination of Rice Flour, coconut and salt.

Kadala, Black Chickpeas,ChickpeasFish Curry, Toddy Shop Fish Curry, ToddyKadala Curry is a creamy gravy of black channa(kondakadalai), roasted, grated coconut, chilli and other masalas with a tempering of curry leaves. I could have this combination for lunch every-day and not regret it, one bit. Extremely homely and super-delicious!

Shappu Meen Curry: Spicy, Tangy and a fiery red coloured gravy, this toddy-shop style fish curry is everything you can hope for in your main course. Mop it up with idiappams(rice string hoppers) or pathiris(paper-thin rice flour ‘rotis’)
Tender Coconut Pudding. Pudding, Tender Coconut
Desserts: Here are 2 desserts that are a little off-the-beaten path, but with core ingredients from Kerala and deserve a place on this review:

Kandhari Ice-Cream – Truly, one of a kind, this is ice-cream made only with full-fat milk and Bird’s Eye Chilli, and the incredible spice hit as you savor your dessert, and the beautiful creaminess that lulls that initial blow. Unique, beautiful, regional. Just like KCK

Cloud Pudding – A dessert that has quickly become the talk of town, this is a tender-coconut pudding that is light as a cloud, jiggly like a jelly and as tasty as it gets. The best damn tender coconut pudding that I have ever had. Period!

Nannari Sherbet, Sarsapilla
Verdict: This place has a lot in common with the best restaurants in the world, local produce, indigenous cooking techniques, sustainable source and a chef who understands the regional intricacies. KCK and Chef Regi Mathew bring long-forgotten recipes and age-old techniques from Kerala to Bangalore, and the end result is homely, utterly delicious food. A place to watch out for and a definite contender for the India's Top 50 Restaurants in my opinion. Highly recommended!

Kappa Chakka Kandhari Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoP.S. : Fun Fact : The Logo of The Uncliched Blog was inspired by the Nannari Sherbet. Checkout the origin story here.

Abhishek Chatterji / Author & Editor

A Grammar Nazi. Suave, Savvy, Geeky. Calm,Impatient,Versatile. Ductile, Malleable yet Brittle beyond a point. A true-blue Gemini!