For those ‘non-mallus’ reading this post, what do you think of when we say Kerala? I am sure you are thinking about the picturesque landscapes, the backwaters, houseboats, Ayurveda and so on. But for me Kerala reminds me of the soft appam, parotta (that’s Kerala paratha), Sadya, paayasam, puttu with beef varattiyath…I could go on and on.
After living in Dubai for all these years, with countless options for mallu food outlets in every nook and corner of the city, I have only liked very few restaurants that serve authentic kerala food cuisines. I prefer my mom’s home-made Kerala dishes as opposed to anything served in mallu restaurants, and that’s the reason why my hubsy and me never really try out many Malabar restaurants.
But after coming back from a week long trip to Georgia, we were all craving for some authentic Kerala cuisines, and obviously….too lazy to cook, we all ended up deciding to try Malabar Express after hearing great reviews about this place.
Located on the main road side opposite the Karama Post Office, this place can be easily spotted while passing through the area. In a city where finding a parking spot is the hardest part, this restaurant is lucky to have got ample parking space right in front, if you take the service road facing the building.
Malabar Express looks like any other casual restaurant except for the unique Indian train inspired theme going on at one part of the first floor of the restaurant. The restaurant is decently decorated and can accomodate quite a number of people.
Now coming to the food, we mainly went with the suggestions of the staff, and sure enough, we were not disappointed.
Soon after we placed our orders, the lemon mint welcome drink came in a tumbler filled with champagne look-alike-chutes and it tasted sweet, refreshing and gave us hope for the dishes that were to come out of the same kitchen. We were also served a unique plate of mixed salads – including pomegranate seeds, sweet corn, cucumber, carrots and radishes, and though the combination was a little confusing…it tasted surprisingly delicious.
For starters, we had the Hot Chicken Fry which comes with coconut fragments and fried shallots. This was a delicious treat to start the dinner with and I could not get a good picture as we all dug in as soon as the dish arrived. Then there was the pack-on-the-cholestrol mutton soup which was good but lacked the spiciness that you would expect from a ‘naadan’ mutton soup.
Most of the Kerala dishes are prepared in coconut and various spices giving a sharp pungency in the flavour that is further heightened with a hint of tamarind. The use of coconut gives richness to the dishes and also absorbs the tongue teasing hot flavours. And also, Kerala being a coastal state, seafood is found in abundance and hence it is cooked in various different styles. So, to be a succesful Kerala restaurant, you have got to nail the seafood dishes.
Now let’s see which all main course items you ought to try here!
Hamour Fish Tawa – You can choose the type of fish required and they will tawa fry the fish as a whole. This is one of their popular dishes and it had a very delicious masala on the fish and was cooked to perfection.
King Fish Mango Curry – Came in a ‘mannchatti’ (clay pot) and had an authentic South Indian flavor to it. The mango pieces mixed in together with the coconut gravy gave the King Fish an extra taste to it.
Fish Mulakittath – Wherever we go my sister definitely has got to order this curry. She loves spicy fish red curry together with the kerala parotta and since poratta goes well with anything and everything, we all dug into this too. It was a good curry but nothing spectacular.
Green Masala Chicken (Boneless) – We ordered this after seeing that it had a green masala on it and looked yumm. The masala was indeed delicious but the chicken a little dry for me, may be if they add chicken pieces with bone, it might taste even better.
Kunjan Kozhi Hot Chilli Chicken Curry – I wanted something spicy to go with the poratta and so the staff suggested this curry. Was not at all disappointed with it – a must try if you visit here.
Could not try their special chicken curry that comes inside a coconut. Next time will try that for sure as I have heard many people rave about it. One more thing I have got to say before I wind up this post is that, the dishes came in real quick and the staff were friendly, helpful and inviting, definitely a pleasant experience.
If you love South Indian cuisines, you sure need to try this place out and if you happen to go here, then get ready for a joy ride down the gourmet’s lane of Kerala’s delights!
“Happy Nibbling you all”