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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

Keep calm and curry on at this new Khar eatery: Curry Tales review

Curry Tales, Khar’s latest offering, offers both hits and misses with gravies from the west coast of India.

more-lifestyle Updated: Oct 11, 2017 16:06 IST
Antoine Lewis
Antoine Lewis
Hindustan Times
The interiors of Curry Tales are charming and quirky.
The interiors of Curry Tales are charming and quirky.(Aalok Soni/HT Photo)
Curry Tales
  • RATING: ***½
  • WHERE: Shop 5, Bhavya Plaza, 5th Road, Khar
  • WHEN: 12 – 3:30 pm; 7 pm – 12 am. Mon closed
  • COST: Rs 1500 for two. No alcohol served
  • CALL: 9820073765

Like many people trapped in high-paying finance and management jobs, Sandeep Sreedharan dreamed of doing something small, but meaningful. So he traded in his business jacket for a chef’s coat about two years ago and started high-end catering and pop-ups focussing on Kerala and west-coast cuisine.

Curry Tales – Curated from Homes, his foray into the mass market, is a bold move backed by sensible planning. For one, it’s strategically located down the road from Social and Hoppipola and at the edge of Khar’s pub hub.

While the bright illuminated sign is hard to miss, the side entrance leading into the corner restaurant is not immediately obvious. The bulk of the seating, about six to eight tables, is in the enclosed, outside area, with just 2-3 tables in the AC section. We’re told when it gets packed at lunch, the six-seater tables are converted into create communal sharing tables.

The mildly flavoured squid sukkha is cooked with freshly grated coconut and a sweet-spicy masala.
The mildly flavoured squid sukkha is cooked with freshly grated coconut and a sweet-spicy masala. ( Aalok Soni/HT Photo )

There’s not much thematic coherence to the interiors, except that it works to create a charming, amatuerish quirkiness. Yellow LED fairy lights on one wall give the space a festive look. A mock green-and-yellow rickshaw jumps out from one wall, and in the centre a sculpture of metal pots and pans hangs ominously.

We start off with a Keralite-style chicken ghee roast that opens on a tangy note but quickly descends into hellish pungency. Though we frantically search for something cooling, we don’t find the buttermilk – it’s labelled as an appetiser drink along with the rasam soups. We are grateful for the relief our second appetiser, the mildly flavoured squid sukkha. The chewy squids cooked with freshly grated coconut and a sweet-spicy, ground masala help soothe the palate somewhat.

Sandeep pops around to the two occupied tables to check if everything is going well, and we are discovered. We place our main course order based on his suggestions and he throws in some complimentary dishes.

The surmai fish fry is disappointing; the fish is fresh but the masala lacks flavour. Curry Tales’ signature mutton varatharachaduis, a thick, dark brown, ground coconut gravy, is mildly spiced and has a very pleasing home-style character.

The crispy bhendi pachadi, done Mangalorean style, is an exceptional dish on Curry Tales’s menu.
The crispy bhendi pachadi, done Mangalorean style, is an exceptional dish on Curry Tales’s menu. ( Aalok Soni/HT Photo )

But the breads are fantastic: the appams are light and fluffy, with crisp edge and a distinctly sour aftertaste. The thick home-style dosas are closer to uttapams. Another exceptional dish on the menu is the crispy bhendi pachadi, done Mangalorean style. Crisp pieces of chopped, fried bhendi are arranged on a cool, tart coconut-and-yogurt gravy that’s as soft as a pillow. The unexpected lusciousness is quite addictive.

Fans of southern Keralite cuisine may take offence at some of the food. But for the rest of us it’s a chance to taste an under-represented cuisine. Now if they could just do something about that evil chicken ghee roast.

(HT pays for all meals and reviews anonymously)

First Published: Oct 11, 2017 16:06 IST

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