Relishing regional cuisine in big metro towns at times is a big problem. The cuisine is altered to suit the local palate and also today a lot of fusion experiments spoil the authenticity. As an avid traveler I normally feast on to a number of regional cuisines during my explorations. And when I find any particular cuisine savory, I start searching for it when I come back to Delhi.
And this happened again recently to me when I was visiting Mangalore; Oh no, not for the recent elections, but on one of my normal travel sojourn for a magazine feature assignment. And I really liked the beautiful coastal place that Mangalore is. Lush green fields, backwaters, waterfalls and long virgin beaches, coconut and palm farms, everything was captivating.
But the thing which got me hooked on was the spicy food of Mangalore. Mangalorean cuisine has a distinctive flavour of its own. Mangalorean recipes are quite spicy and fresh coconut is an integral part of these recipes. Rice is the staple food of the Mangaloreans, though for the non vegetarians, fish is also a regular meal.
Mangalorean sweet dishes are known for using jaggery made of palm instead of sugar, so as to keep them healthy. Moreover, this sweet syrup has a fragrance and taste of its own and thereby makes the Payasam more delicious. Also raw mango, tamarind and kokum are integral part of a Manglorean dish.
As I have mentioned earlier, that I look out to savour a cuisine that I have liked in its authentic and traditional manner and flavour. As Manglorean cuisine is not readily available in Delhi, when I learned about this Trail Mangalore Festival @ Off the Hook by Desee Dakshin at Rajouri Gardens, I quickly went there.
It was a revisit to coastal memories and flavours for me as I relished the authentic food servings at this Trail Mangalore Festival, held at Off the Hook – By Desee Dakshin.
Curated with choicest of dishes from the kitchens of authentic Mangalore, these dishes comprises of freshest of prawns, crabs, fishes and other seafood and tingled every guest’s taste buds. Authentic gourmet menu with coastal fare like Fish Tawa Fry, Fish Karavali, Prawn Ghee Roast, Crab Butter Garlic among others were on offer. A lot of choices were available for a veggie like me too, and now I am going to tell you a little about what all did I eat?
The décor and ambiance of the restaurant is quite inviting, pretty simple and decorated with artifacts giving an impression of a coastal outing. Boat rows, beach sand filled bottles, sea-shells and the aqua blue tone lighting, all make you feel as if you are in a sea side restaurant.
We met Mr. Dhanush Alva and his Father Kishan Alva, Director of the newly opened wing Off The to Hook during our recent visit for Trail Mangalore Food Festival. Both of them were keen to showcase the authentic home recipes from Mangalore to the world and Mr Alva’s following words, “I want each one of my guests to relish authentic homemade Manglorean recipes and love it” still echo in my ears. He went on to add that they have never done experimentation with the authentic recipes and that was the only secret that they have.
The menu primarily features Manglorean cuisine along with North Indian and Chinese sections. They had a lot of veggie option which really made me happy.
We started with a traditional drink, Sol Curry. The fresh Sol curry took me back to Mangalore and gave me an indication of what was coming next.
We were then served the appetizers, Ghee Roasted Paneer, Butter and garlic Mushroom, Pepper fried Paneer and Channa Manglorean style. The Ghee roasted Paneer was amazing, Ghee adding the flavours. Traditionally ground spices also added the kick into the appetizers.
The boiled White Channa preparation with fresh coconut was delicious too and showed that a simple preparation can also be quite tasty.
We had Rice balls with Drumstick Sukka, Beans with cashew and Vegetable curry. A super flavoursome combination was liked by everyone at the table. The next dish Idiappam also tasted divine with the vegetable curry. Neer Dosa which followed quickly was quite light and soft and tasted equally good.
I was almost full by now, but then Mr Alva insisted on tasting Appam served with Veggie Stew. And I thanked him for forcing me to taste this. The stew was super amazing; Appam light and fluffy – all in all this was the star dish of the evening.
I don’t like waiting for desserts after my meals and soon started enjoying the Moong Daal Payasam and Naivedyam. I loved the way Moong Daal Payasam has turned out great with Palm jiggery.
I really enjoyed my dinner at Off The Hook, it was just like the food that I had in Mangalore, and then left with a promise to come back and relish some more veggie combinations that chef will turn out in near future.
So folks go out and enjoy an evening of traditional and authentic Manglorean food at Off the Hook by Desee Dakshin at J-2/11, B K Dutta Market.Rajouri Garden New Delhi where they currently are having the Trail Mangalore Festival till the 31st May 2018.