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Monday, December 08, 2014

Dine and Whine-3 : Curdspotting

I hate trashing a restaurant. It’s easy to pass judgment, to ditch anything that strays from your idea of perfection. It’s tempting to revel in rhetoric and sarcasm, forgetting the effects of the bad press on the lives of many. While I do not assume that my denouncement of an eatery will throw its people out of work, I prefer to use criticism with caution. This habit of mine presents a peculiar conundrum at times. What do you do about a restaurant that disappoints you? Do you just take a hit and walk away? Well, there is the odd place that puts me off permanently; but at most places I manage to find a dish or two to my liking – sometimes after multiple visits. And once in a while, that item turns out to be so good that it justifies the whole exercise. I have a similar experience to recount today, about Kudumbam.

Needless to reiterate, my first few visits to this place were utterly disappointing. I accepted the undercooked vegetable stew, hard and unyielding Appams, and the tasteless fish fry with quite a bit of grace and tolerance. What truly disturbed me was the Crab Masala with its de-shelled and refrigerated meat that didn’t mix well with the gravy. But this review is not about these poorly conceived dishes or missing crab shells. It’s about something that’s not even advertised on the menu. The buttermilk curry (or Kachiya Moru, as we mallus call it) served with lunch thali is, in my opinion, nothing short of exquisite art. Every time I drank it out of my palm, it melted away every bit of resentment I ever felt with Kudumbam and its owners.

Its quite a simple dish at first glance – curd, water, dried red chillies, chopped green chillies, salt, red onion and oil. The preparation isn’t too complex either. Getting it ready might take just a few minutes; but getting it right, perhaps a lifetime. The curd needs to be of the right age, texture and sourness, chillies need to be mild without being neutral, and onions shouldn’t be sharp. In the perfect Kachiya Moru, every flavor stands out, and yet none prevails over its soul – the curd. It’s a curry in itself, and a versatile base for a whole hoard of Moru curries (with pretty much every vegetable you can imagine) that are the hallmark of Kerala vegetarian cuisine. The folks at Kudumbam have got it right beyond doubt – I am a regular visitor after this discovery, and it tastes great every time. It’s a travesty that the restaurant ignores the best dish in its kitchen. The next time you find yourself at Kudumbam, skip the non-veg fare and order the vegetarian meals. Relish the brown rice and banana flower upperi, but behold the kachiya moru with reverence, awe and above all, pleasure.

Personally, breaking crab shells is a gratifying experience.

Find the review at: https://www.zomato.com/couchpotato