I’m a Gulfie. Not really in the true sense of its definition, but yes, I was brought up in Oman and lived there for the first 18 years of my life! In the Gulf, the Indian population mainly comprises Malayalis (mallus, as they are called lovingly :)), and with a zillion mallu friends and some being my closest, I was exposed to a lot of Kerala’s rich cuisine. Every Onam, my friend and neighbour, Deni, and I would go to the Indian Club and feast on the Onam Sadhya served on plantain leaves (something else that I just love doing). I remember one occasion when her mother had made fried chillies soaked in butter milk (I forget what they are called), and we devoured an entire jar!
Apart from my friends, my dad was a great lover of Kerala’s cuisine, especially the fish curry and mota chawal, and we would frequent Mangalya Restaurant for the sumptuous fare of the typical parotha-chicken gravy with lots of curry leaves meal and mallu biryani, not to forget the payasam (a sweet dish made of vermicelli and milk)! Moreover, the mallustaple breakfast was almost a staple at our place, too. Dad used to get puttu – a cylindrical cake of rice and coconut – and iddiyappam – a kind of flat noodle serving (pardon the description) – with this really spicy chana masala, and I would devour it with so much gusto!
Anyway, ever since I moved to Marol after my wedding earlier this year, I’ve realised that this place has a huge concentration of South-Indians. So, there’s a variety of South Indian vegetables being sold across Andheri East. Apart from that, just five minutes away from my house is a small restaurant called Spice of Kerala. Now, if you’re like me, you’d give this restaurant a miss. It isn’t really dirty, but it’s certainly not spotless and shining. However, the very thought of the kind of food mentioned above lured me to this place — not the mention the ‘live’ parotha counter — and I was not disappointed!
I’ve been to Spice of Kerala twice already and have ordered iddiyappam home once (which was smacking good). The first time, we had fresh and hot parothas with mutton pepper fry and chicken roast masala washed down with Coca Cola. The second was yesterday, when we had fried chicken, chicken pepper fry and parotha again. Super delicious chicken overdose!
Now, malabari parothas are layered parathas made out of maida and fried on a tawa. I have no clue how they get them so super soft, flaky and fluffy, but they do. The pepper fry dishes, both chicken and mutton, are to die for! Dark succulent meat and chicken is fried with diced onions, pepper (a lot of it!) and curry leaves (and some other mysterious spices, I’m sure), and the result is this mouthwatering dish below. It’s slightly dry, so they serve it with a spicy-coconuty gravy to add some wetness.
That’s the parotha with the chicken pepper fry
Fried chicken garnished with papad and salad
The only drawback is that neither the chicken nor mutton are boneless in this dish, so that takes some of the fun out of savouring it! The roast chicken gravy, the photo of which I haven’t taken, is this smooth, thick red chicken gravy that speaks of chillies, a dash of coconut and coastal flavours and of course the quintessential curry leaf garnishing. On the other hand, the fried chicken is a dark red, almost foreboding dish that almost resembles the Indo-Chinese chicken lollypop but has no schezwan sauce to dip into. It’s crusty, tasty, but I wouldn’t rave about it — comes garnished with papad and salad.
Sadly, Spice of Kerala doesn’t offer sweet dishes, or I’d have called for the payasam. I think they should – everyone wants a sweet dish after a spicy meal! Don’t you agree? Apart from the delicious food, one of the best things about this place is that you can go when you’re broke. Between the two of us, we had a chicken pepper fry, 6 parothas and fried chicken with two 500 ml bottles of Coca Cola, and the bill came up to a mere Rs 259! Talk about going easy on your pocket!
Either way, the experience has been amazing both times, and I would definitely go back for more finger-lickin’ food.