We were invited for a tasting of an ongoing promotion in Ente Keralam called the Secrets of Seas last week. The restaurant is located on Ulsoor Road, in Bangalore – a quiet corner that also houses Teppan and Benjarong. The place is simple, a duplex set up almost reminded me of a house. I have attended many sea food festivals, but this one promised to be quite different. The menu had a pretty comprehensive selection of starters, mainly the Porichathu (fried) and Pollichathu (grilled), and mains of fish, squid, lobster, crab and prawns. And the variety of fish was also commendable – each served in a host of authentic preparations of the Kerala cuisine. Each table thoughtfully had some local snack on the table, including banana chips – yay!
Our dinner commenced with the Njandu Rasam – a simple and refreshing crab soup that felt therapeutic really. The fresh masala and the soft crab meat brought together a contrast rare in soups, and was delicious. Mr.Manoj at the restaurant took out time to explain the menu as we finished with the soup, and our next dishes were two variants of the fried fish – Ayala Varuthathu (mackerel) and Kane Varuthathu (lady fish). Now the intrinsic quality of a fish lies in its texture and taste – fish fry preserves those inherent traits quite well, and hence we love it. I hadn’t had lady fish before this, but the chilli and turmeric mix and fry gave it quite the crunch, while Tapash loved the mackerel. The chemeen cutlet and pepper fry (prawns) that came next were nicely done as well. One of the things Bengalis swear by are fish cutlets, so the prawn batter fried cutlets came pretty darned close. And this was served with a beet root chutney, interesting – it worked though I couldn’t have envisaged it before this as a possible combination!
We took a break before the next course. They have this really nice coconut drink, which also had tiny bits of tender coconut in it – wonderful and also a great palate cleanser! The Neymeen Pollichathu was basically a spicy preparation of seer fish slices marinated with tamarind masala and grilled in banana leaf. Kora, Vatta and Aleppey style mango curry were our mains – served with Appams and Idiyappams. In order of preference, I loved the Aleppey mango curry – I was told this is available in their regular menu as well. The seer fish was cooked beautifully in a blend of raw mango and coconut milk with a finish of chillies. Wonderful with rice or appam. The Vatta Varatharacha Curry was another spicy preparation, but quite different in flavors, roasted ground coconut making this rich brown gravy the second best. Accompanied well with the iddi appams (string hoppers). The Kora (Indian Salmon) Ittuvacha Curry was an Indian salmon cooked with Chinese potato and coconut milk. This had too much going on, and I couldn’t really move past the spices.
The desserts had helpings of Elaneer Payasam – a tender coconut payasam, my all time favorite – served chilled and tender coconut ice cream. What better way to end a truly experiential meal! Mental note to myself – come back here soon! The festival menu is available across Bangalore and Chennai until 10th July. This is truly a festival serving handpicked seafood delicacies from the God’s own Country.