Ente Keralam, nestled in a smallish bungalow in the ultra-exclusive Poes Garden estate (the Chief Minsiter of Tamil Nadu, ex-actress Jayalalitha's residence is a couple of streets away) is one of the most popular Keralan restaurants in town. There were at least a couple of dining areas, and we occupied what appeared to be the largish front sitting room of the bungalow. Dark-wood furniture, subdued lighting and low ceiling gave the room a cosy feeling.
We started our meal with a plate of hot, crisp-fried Trivandrum fried chicken - very well-seasoned fried chicken pieces, slightly spicy and fragrant from the spices and generous sprinkling of pungent “kari” leaves. Great start.
The mains came in quick succession:
- “Meen Moilee” – Seer fish fillets cooked a coconut crème-rich, ginger-infused stew, scented and given a golden yellow tinge thru the use of turmeric. Well-prepared, though not exactly unforgettable;
- Mutton Khorma stew was also creamy, studded with sweet little pearl onions, and spiked with pepper. The stew was tasty, even if a little under-spiced.
- The “Pachakkari” vegetable (carrots, potatoes, scallions, onions) stew was, again, coconut crème-rich, with light, subtle spices (hints of cloves, cardamoms). Another overly-rich stew – am beginning to sense a pattern in this restaurant’s cooking.
- Crisp “appams” and soft, pillowy ”putus” (steamed rice-flour cylinders) were perfect to absorb the delicious curry gravies.
- “Thalaserry Biriyani” – cooked using aged short-grain “Khaima rice”, which had an almost quinoa-like texture. We ordered the chicken version, which came subtly-spiced and fragrant, generously sprinkled with crisp, golden–fried onions.
The recommended dessert – “Ila Neer Payasam” (tender coconut flesh in milk) was a serious miss. It was served lukewarm, instead of chilled, and was just way too sweet. There was hardly any coconut flesh in the dessert. A rather disappointing ending to an otherwise enjoyable, if not particularly outstanding, meal.
Kasturi Estate, Street 1
Poes Garden, Alwarpet