A Showcase Of South Indian Soul Food At ITC’s Dakshin

The famed South Indian fine-dining restaurant – Dakshin at ITC Grand Central – has come back with a menu that is intended to give its diners a dining experience that is rooted deeply in the unique characteristic of each of the South Indian states – Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telengana, Karnataka and Puducherry. With choice of vegetarian & non-vegetarian selections clearly defined as ‘Saivam’ & ‘Asaivam’ respectively, an elaborate dining ritual with best of all southern states curations can be experienced through Sampoornam. In the first-ever showcase the restaurant has also introduced ‘No Onion & No Garlic’ set menu for the guests to indulge as per their select dietary preference.

Besides the specially curated experience menus divided by four states broadly, chef Praveen Anand and his team have also designed an experience surrounding fresh seafood. Kicking off the meal with the Dakshin Vishesha – a service of mini paniyarams, adai and banana dosas, served with five different chutneys, the meal was promising to deliver an authentic experience without compromising comfort eating. Each of the chutneys tasted different from one another; however, two of them in particular stood out for their flavour – a pickled onion chutney which was fiery and sour, as well as one made with ridge gourd peels as an attempt to reduce kitchen waste.

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Two delicious cocktails – a pineapple and tequila based drink with an aromatic pineapple smoke as well as a watermelon-vodka cocktail that was sweet and refreshing. Accompanying this was the Dakshin Year – crunchy pieces of prawns coated in a fiery masala before being deep-fried, and chicken cooked in a masala of coconut and curry leaves. Piping hot bowls of peppery rasam and a basket with appalams kept company while appams and parottas were tossed around in the Iyer’s Trolley, making its way to the table. These were eaten with a surprisingly savoury yet mild Kerala chicken stew, the Karur Kari Kuzambu – a robustly spiced curry with tender chunks of boneless mutton and a Nandu Puttu – a dry preparation of crab meat scrambled with onions.

For the rice course, the fiery Tomato Sadam as well as the Andhra Kodi biryani – made with short grain rice (but leaving a lot to be desired), were called for the table. What the biryani lacked, the desserts made up for. Ttender coconut payasam – not to sweet and with tiny bits of coconut malai and paruppu payasam – rice and lentils cooked with jaggery. Add to this a buttery badam halwa and a frozen dessert made with milk and pistachios, and a meal to remember was had! What also seemed interesting enough to visit again and try were the Beans Parippu Usli – green beans cooked with lentils, Mor Kozhambu – a selection of vegetables simmered in a yoghurt curry, the Kara Kozhambu prepared in spiced tomato and tamarind curry and Keerai Massial – a leafy green mash made with lots of tomatoes and garlic.