Walking across a door is all that matters. When you pass that threshold, you find yourself transported to an ancient south Indian temple, where pillars stand tall, where the ceilings and walls are lined with carved timber and decorated with intricately done murals depicting the four south Indian states, adorned with bronze lamps modelled from the lamps of Padmanabhapuram Palace and statues from Chola period. Description resembles some museum?!, nope, I’m describing the interiors of Southern Spice – the country’s most iconic South Indian specialty restaurant, at Taj Coromandel. The detailing doesn’t stop with the interiors and ambiance, even the cutlery, silver and gold plated dinner ware, and the linen oozes the traditional feel from Southern India, and the traditional touch doesn’t stop just there.
Southern Spice showcases the very best of the traditional dishes of South India, with a modern rendition. Dishes I got to taste was part of the Mahavirundhu, which literally translates to “Grand Feast”, and boy, it was indeed one grand feast. Tickling and tantalizing my taste buds with myriad of spices in the traditionally prepared food. With few dishes even kicking off memories from my ancestry region of God’s own country. Interesting part or the modern rendition that I mentioned earlier is that these traditional dishes are given a twist with some exotic ingredients. And the recipes here are from a research that is 15yrs old, a collection from royal clans across south India and celebrity families who have dined here.
The meal starts with a dose of Mysore rasam, and they have a an extensive menu just for varieties of rasam on offer. And then comes a flurry of starters and I just loved hogging down each and every one of them. The taste of each and every dish still lingers on my taste buds.
And then it was time for main course, along came a large plaintain leaf inspired gold plated plate, with an assortment of bowls. Idiyappam, Appam and Parotta were served with Manathakkali vathal kozhambu, Pookose urlai kurma, Kadala gassi, Pachakari ishtew, Royallu iguru, Mangalore yetti curry, Scallop pepper stew, Sankaraa meen kozhambu, Kozhi malliperalan, Asparagus paruppu usili and Zucchini Khaara Poriyal.
Phew, that was a long list ain’t it?
Along came steamed rice with andhra paruppu podi and ghee, the best I have had till date. And then rice with arachivitta Sambhar, a traditional tam-brahm recipe from Chef’s grandma. Also served were curd rice and not to miss, the Bhejwada kodi biriyani, a speciality from Andhra.
To wash down the main course we were given a shot of curry leaves concoction, mine spiked with vodka 😀
And then came my favorite part of any feast, desserts. The twist of tradition was here in the desserts too. Elaneer payasam was just too good. Godhi bella ice-cream, altogether a new dessert for me, made of broken wheat, jaggery and banana. To be served last was a mouth watering surprise, Chocolate Purnam mousse, totally Indian version of chocolate mousse filled with jaggery, coconut and lentils.
Southern Spice has three private dining rooms along with the usual fine dining setting. The thalis start from 2000rs and goes upto 12000rs which includes best of the wines paired to go with the traditional taste. MahaVirundhu is priced at 5000rs and has 30 dishes in it. Now, are you thinking that the pricing is tad high? Well, you gotta experience it to know that the price is worth it. Try it once, I’m pretty sure you will return for more.